You know how they say a man is known by the company he keeps. I would add that the company one keeps slips out with the words one speaks. Your choice of words slowly starts showing who has been having the hours of the day with you. The choice of words, which two do you put besides each other in a sentence and what thoughts you express will all reveal the influence of those you have been spending most time with.
It is a funny thing, language. Sometimes you won’t even realise that you are speaking the words of those with whom you may not even share a word. I realised that while talking to my mom on the phone one day when I referred to something as ‘mere bajoo mein’. The Bambaiyya lingo, as they call it, was slowly creeping up my tongue. Now I have reached a situation where the words ‘magajmaari’ and ‘syaapa’ both form part of my internal monologue.
Sometimes, you can be reminded where you are by parts of a language that are not even words. The prime example of this is the unique way in which I have seen Mumbaikars calling out to strangers. The funny kissy sound or that weird hissing that I had sworn I’d never use, but ended up doing in a train anyway. It is as if the whole city hasn’t heard of the phrase “excuse me”! As usual, the city’s small incomprehensions keep me laughing…