Wednesday, April 26, 2006

urdu

five years after buying a twenty rupee instruction booklet in connaught place
five years after wanting to learn the script but always finding excuses to never try

i finally sat down, last saturday evening (no, i do not have a life!), dusted the book, and opened to the urdu alphabet.
two hours later, i could write all the way from 'alif' to 'badi yeh' out of memory...

now, three days (and about five hours total of studying) later, i am already beginning to read (and write) words and phrases, though fluency will take a while yet. it doesn't feel short of a miracle. what was unintelligible sinuous gibberish three days ago now flows with meaning.

three days. five hours.
at this rate - i should be reading urdu with basic comptence in about two weeks. (touch wood!)
even assuming that i'm 'smarter than the average(desi) bear', which i am not, and am learning twice as fast as average - one month of urdu, two hours a day, should be enough to teach anyone familiar with hindustani how to read and write in this script.

sixty hours.
and that brings me up short. just how much effort would it take to fit sixty hours of urdu into twelve years of school education?

'nuffink luv. 'nuffing at fecking all...

and yet

millions of people like me, who went through the 'good' schooling systems of modern north India have been denied this - denied literacy in script which only two generations ago was as important a means of communication and culture as Devnagari, and not just for Muslims.

The vastness of the Hindi-Urdu divide seems so absurd when you think that a month could bridge it...

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