Nepali Times
Nation
Not so hip


RANJAN ADIGA


When I was a St. Xavier's student in the early 90s I looked forward to our English classes but hated Nepali.

One reason was that English was taught by Americans, some soberly clad Jesuits, others younger, flashier volunteers who had taken a year off from their otherwise hectic lives to come and teach in third world countries. Few doubted, or doubt, the noble intentions of these young teachers, but thinking back, it seems they might have unknowingly conspired to lure us away from boring Nepali classes.

When a twenty-something white American walks into a classroom with a guitar and some Springsteen songs, the old-fashioned, topi-wearing 'Sir' of Mahendra Mala is destined to fall out of favour with most students. No wonder Nepali teachers devised their own theatrical performances while teaching - teary recitals of passages, exaggerated flourishes of the hands while rendering Devkota verses - but despite their efforts, Mahendra Mala always looked like the poor unwanted cousin when the next class promised renditions of "Born in the USA" and viewings of Dead Poets Society.

Nepali was not hip. If you did well in Nepali, you were viewed with some suspicion by other students: "he must be a pujari's son, or a closeted, pure bahun", as if those categories had a unique claim over the language. Today, though I don't have the figures to prove it, conversations with batch mates the world over indicate that almost eighty per cent of those who graduated from St. Xavier's with me reside in the western world. From doctors to engineers, software pros to scientists, STX '92 occupies some of the most lucrative positions abroad.

Occasionally, we meet for drinks and pride ourselves on our Xavierian heritage; we riff on Hollywood and hip-hop; our children speak in 'pure' American accents, and a mere mention of Devkota, never mind Rajesh Hamal, elicits the obvious shrug or sneer. Many foreign-born children, on their part, grow up with little appreciation, or knowledge, of any Nepali language. They rattle off English more naturally than their Xavier's educated parents, and while the parents half-heartedly bemoan this eventuality, I can't help but notice the unavoidable glint of pride in their eyes. Sadly Nepali, it seems, has become even less hip than it ever was.



1. ripvanwinkle
in high school i loathed studying nepali. the teachers were the worst of the lot. i find it very out dated, missing elegance and very hard to rhyme. no wonder there are not a lot of notable poets. a language that can never be short and sweet but long annoying and alwasy indirect. and also the fact that the parbate kids used to make fun of me because i pronounced few words with an accent. and its quite obvious that the writer has a privileg¡dged life because he speaks good english, imagine where he would be if he had gone to public school and was an expert in nepali.
yes nepali and nepal are quite LAME, and annoying and irritating, and .....
or if u prefer not hip


2. ananda
Ranjan ji, you forgot to address most important question about what those American volunteer teachers conspired with your country: 'they eventually made a clan of people who later could serve their country without even bothering to think about their own country - Nepal' !!! so sad :-(

3. mags
You, as an immigrant Nepali raising your family in an English speaking land, are one of the reasons the Nepali language is dying among your more educated peers. If you want to retain your  Nepali language and culture for the next generation, then return to Nepal and devote yourself to your amazing country. But don't blame American volunteers with their Springsteen songs, for your desire to leave and raise your children in the USA. And don't forget that your children, being raised in America, do not see themselves as Nepali. They see themselves as American first (which they are, American of Nepali parentage). Don't blame them for their lack of interest in promoting the language. They are not Nepalese anymore, and had you wanted them to be, you would have raised them in the land of your birth.

4. putali
and hence so is the state of this country ... jesuits have sucessfuly inflicted a self-loathing culture on these poor souls.


5. NIraj
The loss is yours (or your children's). You will realize it some day - but in the meantime you have a lot of growing up to do.

6. Kenji
A tremendous disadvantage that Nepali has in holding the interest of the young and well educated is the almost complete lack of interesting books for young readers.  Over the years as our daughters have aged I've searched every kitab pasal in Kathmandu for the Nepali equivalent of English nursery rhyme books, engaging alphabet books, Disney storybooks, young reader mysteries, etc, only to come up empty handed.  I would have been happy to find even straight ripoffs of Western stories, coverted to Nepali and printed in color on quality paper, but the best I can find is lame ka kha ga gha books in single color.  In Europe, even tiny markets like Denmark and Holland have a plethora of local-language versions of popular international kids stories.  On the video side the story is similar, with a wealth of English titles from Barney the dinosoar to Postman Pat to hundreds of Hollywood titles targeted just at kids (not always a good thing!), whereas the choice of Nepali fare specifically produced for children is extremely limited.  Personally I think there is a huge unmet need for books, magazines, and video in Nepali for the under 10 age cohort.  Come on Nepali entrepreneurs, get copying!

7. mange
It's all a matter of what you want: you can raise your children in the west while teaching them Nepali and bringing them up such that they consider themselves as Nepali-Americans- not just Nepalis of American parentage.  We have.  The world is not black or white anymore folks.

8. Bikash Pradhan
The legacy of St.Xavier's. Bravo! But you cant blame the school for this. Comes down to how the individual wants to have a relationship with the language.


9. U2R1
Lets us not generalize things based on one empirical observation. Schools like St. Xavier's and St. Mary's are far removed from the average education offered in Nepal. As a result it has produced well educated and extremely successful citizens of the world who now, unfortunately, consider the West their home. It has nothing to do with young America teacher and their flashy acts compared to old Nepali Gurus and their spectacular stories like Kalo Gufa. The bitter truth is the culture of exclusion and aristocracy STX developed in the mid 80's. Like may STX students, I too had thrills running away in the forest of Godavari or climbing the wall that separated St. Xavier's from St. Mary's to retrieve a volley ball after kicking it across the wall. Like most kids who attended STX, I was not for a rich or a well connecter family, neither was I the smartest. But, many time I definitely feft like I was out of place. I could not take part in games during breaks that involved alphabetically naming English rock bands, especially with no tape player at home. Knowing Nepali songs was not cool. I can guarantee that 97% of STX students never read a single Nepali book besides the course books, but there was always a sense of great achievement after reading a complete series of Nancy Drew novels. Come on, with such a culture it is hard to expect much loyalty for Nepal or Nepali. I am guilty as charged. But let's be men and accept the truth and not blame our teachers for out guilt.



10. rambler

funny that the "american" teachers were the ones who called themselves nepali more than the nepali students. i remember our Fathers whose sang shree man gambhir with so much pride in assemblies and they had more love for nepal than us.

you write very well in English. maybe next time you should write in Nepali.



11. Nepali dude
What Ranjan has written is but an effort to share his experiences with the English language in these changing times. As we are not a well-documented society and media is fairly new, there are a lot of stuff that Nepalis need to share with each other. Some of those views may have to be taken with a pinch of salt, but running to conclusions, esp negative and unfounded ones, will not help understand each other. So,
...let's listen to one another first....
                  ......before jumping to assumptions...
          .....before becoming needlessly cynical.....
 ......let's listen
     ....and give revealing feedback like U2R1

cheers!



12. Kes
I could not comprehend what the writer is trying to say.


13. jange
If you are good in one language there is no reason why you cannot be good in another, especially in your own language. Just a question of motivation and will.


14. raj

This is such a cheap article.The writer denigrate his own language while glorifies English a foriegn language. Most of the student who goes to STX and STM are rich kids who found English and English culture superior to Nepali and its culture. These kids are very arrogant and abnoxious sometime. They often redicule the hardworking students from outside their circle. And I dont blame these kids who even after growing in a western world doesnt change their snobbis attitude and write such irrelevant article. I dont blame these spoiled brat because even great leaders like Nehru once thought making English a national language. But he later found it very impractical and dropped the idea. You dont have to be real fluent in english to achive high ( take example of Dr Upendra Devkota)or make your children (In US ) speak pure american accent english. Any child grown up in US can do that irrespective of thier parent's educational or social status.

Actually country where people take great pride in thier own language are the fastest growing economy in the world today. lets take the example of China, Korea and Japan. They teach English as a second language but they dont denigrate their language. Toyota Boss dint know how to speak english when he appeared in US congress. He had a translator. This is true with most of the korean, chinese and Japanese. Beside they ( elites like STXians STMians) dont overstay or apply for green card in US and be happy that their children speak English fluently. They take the knowlegdge from US and produce world class consumer goods. They even outbeat the inventer. Sony's founder came to US and took some chips and transistor to make walkman that he thought would capitalize on the music lover hippis in the 60s. Look where is Sony today. Think big... achieve big......just speaking other's language fluently aint greatest thing on the earth. I assume if these STXians and STMians took great pride in Nepali culture and language and explore it today we would have different Nepal. Its thier flashyness that creates many frustations in Nepal.

So please be mature and think before you write such D grade article. the editor let this article published because he/she may have thought that majority of readers are people like this writer



15. raj

just one more example came to my mind after i sent my earlier comment. Take the example of Boby Jinal the Louisana governor. His parent were barely educated. However they were hardworking people who took immense pride in their culture and language whose influence produced the child who is next aspiring candidate to become a president of US. His achievement ( being governor) is already enough to tell Arrogant Nepalese that just English is not everything.



16. rame
Oh! and ask those STXians and STMians to complain about Nepalese system and they would go to any length as if they tried too hard to correct. And, what about Nationalism, ah!, if you have US PR, then you super Nepali. Nothing to be inspired of.


17. Bauji Uncle

I enjoyed reading the article, but I like the comments more. And I agree with mags, and Niraj and some others. I hope Ranjan writes next time about the Nepali youth of 2010 and not of 1992 and what they think about Nepal and Nepali.

Bauji Uncle



18. kundale
This article reminded me of a joke that I heard a long time ago....

On the return from a visit to England, a Nepali official was asked "What did you find the most impressive in England?". His reply - "I found the English to be brilliant people, very intelligent you know, even little kids speak English so well!".

Of course you can feel proud that your kids speak English with an American accent, but the fact that you think Nepali is somehow inferior to English points to your own ignorance (of Nepali) and nothing more. Hope you realize that.


19. Ram

Some personal parallels:-

Three languages were 'hip' during my childhood:- Nepali, English, and Hindi. I gobbled up the Panchatantra in English and Hindi while reading 'lagu kathas' (really short stories) and hip 'nibandas' (essays) in Mahendramala (The one about gurus (teachers) in 6th grade was the shiznit) Saral Nepali Shrinkala ('K nepal sano cha?" by Devkota in 9th grade! dang!), and these cool student magazines that used to publish on and off for a few months in the mid and late nineties. I unfortunately do not remember the names. I don't know if any readers here remember but someone used to write about the crazy adventures of one 'bhyaguta' (frog) in Nepal.

In my teens Read 'Mother' (duh!) and 'Animal Farm' along with 'Lajja' in Hindi, and Oh man! Nibandas by Shankar Lamichhane. Oh Oh! Bhupi's poems! Devastating critiqes of Nepali society! Oh! And the hugely entertaining novels by Alexandre Dumas in abridged Indian publications. Those things were the shit. And R.L. Stevenson! R.K. Narayan! Harivansh Rai Bacchan! Pushkin! Tolstoy! Chekov! Parijaat! The guy that wrote 'Chyatieka Anuhaar'!

I am now  in the United States and college keeps me from reading Nepali and Hindi texts but i find time for news in these languages online.

So, my point is that  school policy, distance, social status etc. may prove as obstacles to learning but really the responsibility of learning is all up to you. I once got thrashed by this teacher from Darjeeling for daring to argue with him over the 'conversations in English only except Nepali class' policy of my school (located at Old Baneswhor). That didn't really stop me. I kept talking in Nepali in school! Ha! Suck it Mr. Gurung (no offense to other Gurungs) Also, all languages are cool. Yiddish is number one though.



20. cool_stx
Raj and rame... let me tell you one thing....  We Xavierians are proud to be Nepalese and we are patriotic.  The way you write shows that you are not from STX.   STX school doesn't produce a person of your attitude, which I think is negative.  That's why you spend half an hour writing something negative instead of  doing something useful for your country....  We are taught to be positive... Live for God, Lead for Nepal has been the motto for the school  and we live by that motto.

21. s_joshi
May be it is the case with STX and others but speaking of me, I used to enjoy Nepali class more than any other classes, I loved to read pagal kavi, Laxmi Prasad his luni, sakuntal, bankusom and many more-really captivating. Tara je bhane pani jun mithas ra rujhan nepali ma huncha tyo aru ma hudaina, khai aru lai kasto lagcha malai ta testai lagcha manche ko aafno aafno bichaar!!!! I love NEPALI LANGUAGE Tesma pani JHARRA Sabda haru ta nikkai man parchani ni hoo.....

22. Sagarmatha
Well written Ranjan! You have opened a sensitive issue, so there are various outcries. English was and has been always promoted not only in the educational institutions such as the Jesuit schools STX and St Mary's, but also in the so-called boarding schools found a plenty in all the cities, towns and nooks around the country. The society itself prided if their children spoke English well and no one cared if they di not learn their mother tongue so well! I remember, in summer of 1994, while I was walking along the hot valley of one of the tributary rivers of Trishuli, children aged 7-12 were running along wearing ties on their necks, and shouting at each other not to speak Nepali as they were entering their school grounds. This was in a place where the motorized vehicles were yet to arrive!

It was then I realised that Nepal Society preferred their children to be versant in English and would be proud if their children said " Hi dad" instead of " Darshan Buwa".


23. sugar
Nepali literature is there for those who seek. http://www.wavemag.com.np/issue/article3362.html

24. AiDeeAh
Ranjan, A fascinating article. It goes to show how kids can sometimes  be mean snobs who  judge teachers by pretty shallow measures such as their dress, looks and accent. Such a social outlook often tends to moderate itself with  time and age. However, if such snobbery is  more than a passing phase in a person's life, then it is their loss since they  are holding themselves back from leading a truly fulfilled and content life.

Also, unless you are an ardent literature buff, talking about Devkota or Bernard Shaw during a high-school reunion  is unlikely to lighten up the room or result in a roaring conversation - regardless of where you went to school. The nature of prose and poetry  is such that it requires a good deal of interest and knowledge in the subject for people to engage in conversation around it.

As for Rajesh Hamal, also a St Xavier's alum, I think it is the quality of the movies he has acted in that makes many people shrug him off. I bet  people might be more receptive to talking about Hari Bansa or Madan Krishna  (both of whom are from less privileged backgrounds and speak poorer English than Hamal) simply because people can  connect to Maha's humor in a way they cannot connect to Rajesh Hamal's acting.

However, the idea that some people are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face is well taken and I can only hope articles like this will help change their minds.


25. Salil Pradhan

Every body with a good command over a language does not necessarily write sensibly, as is evident in the write-up by a certain Mr Ranjan Adiga.

How did the editorial borad of the Nepali Times, which I hold in such high esteem, let this one slip off? The article suggests as if St Xavier's was the only school around in 92.

Mr Adiga, every school in Nepal did not boast of an American teacher. We sure had a very high-profile teacher in our school who steadfastly taught us the grammatical rules and some great poetry, but we never looked down upon our Nepali teachers, neither did we treat Nepali with any utter disregard.

We studied and grasped the essence of 'Yaatri' by Devkota as much as 'Lucy' by William Wordsworth that was taught to us at our school. Looking down upon Nepali was your fault Mr Adiga and please do not believe that every other Nepali echoes the same thing. There are people who are even well-educated with a better command of English than you do and they still regard Nepali with the respect it deserves.

And whose fault is it if your children do not speak in Nepali? From parents who think like the way you do, what can we expect from children who get molded in any which way they are made into. It is not their fault at all. For a change, try reading Muna Madan, perhaps you shall appreciate Nepali language a little more.



26. BedP
Nice article, Ranjan. Well written. I confess prose is the first thing I looked for when I read it and was delighted from the very first sentence.
I think the comments show how sensitive the issue is and how we overreact probably because we are troubled by the "hi hi angreji" syndrome which most of us don't want to acknowledge.
I saw love for Nepal and Nepali come up many times in the comments and wondered how many Nepalis, when they go shopping, would want to buy "Made in Nepal" if they could afford anything made elsewhere.
I also believe with the commentators, though, that we ought to throw out lot with Nepal against the tide of History (in which we have played no small part) that has made us ashamed of our national identity. 
I am not implying, Ranjan, that you meant otherwise. I take the article as an effort at objective observation, not a statement of position.


27. ak
Is the writer lamenting or gloating? I can't tell.


28. Marian

I am a proud nepali woman who spent her last 12 years studying in St. Mary's and is working no where else but in Nepal and plans to do that in the future as well. I cannot comprehend what the writer is trying to say...there was no need to include the jesuits educational system...hats off to the number of years they have devoted to help the children learn and compete in this globalised world... Please take note that i am a hindu and in my 12 years in st.mary's i have never ever been pressurised to follow the western culture, its religion or its language. Its a PERSONAL CHOICE and i hope the writer understands that....

and this is especially to serial number 14. Raj, who has given his thoughts on xavierian and marian people to be rich and arrogant bunch of people...Raj you are heavily mistaken....if only you knew!!!



29. oohi ashu
Interesting discussion. 

This 2-page PDF (please click on the link below) contains a "reading list" of Nepali language books that may be of interest to those who want to start reading works of literature in Nepali language.

The list was prepared by writer Khagendra Sangraula at the request of an English-using/Nepali-loving STX alum :-)



30. Prasanna Ghimirey Singh

Prasanna

Yes, indeed nepali subject in the school is always been hatred one for everybody. In school, everyone hate studying nepali bur beina nepali we should be proud of this language as well as the country no mateer where the country is heading towards nowa days but we the new generations should think about it. Nowadays everyone including me wants to reside abroad thinking the future of our as well as our childrens. no matter where we reside Nepali should be our first language...



31. atul
Well i am myself not so good in english neither spoken nor written and so is half the world. But like you guys of Xaviers i have been successful to practise medicine here in Australia. Irony is i treat english speeking patients without my self being good in english. So MR author i am the english teacher and my patients the "nepali students" is your article.So i think it is knowledge that matters rather than the language..


32. Rants

I am not sure what the problem is here and how it is STX centric. Isn't it finally up to you where you want to focus your interest? or are you simply trying to say, you were a teenager who missed out on Nepali because he got lured into a more fascinating world of English? Are you just trying to blame someone else for something you didn't try or are you blaming the Nepali teachers for not trying as hard as the English ones? either way, it seems like rants to me.

1) Given, I don't have much experience outside of schools in the valley, but I have studied in a school before STX, and taught english in one after STX. In my school before STX, the engish teacher, who was not 'a white American volunteer' or something racially biased like that, alternated between reading out an english novel and teaching english every other class period. In STX, the 'white American volunteer' gave my class a spelling list in english, and used to take a quiz on 10 words each morning...what was so fun or hip about that?...I even recall the 'white American volunteers' coming into class with a guitar, wearing dhaka topis and covering Deep Shrestha songs.

2) I found my nepali classes as interesting, be it Kalo Gufa, or Senior Khanal sir's reminiscing how things were during his times, or heck, even Biswojeet sir's malaysia tales...given, Nepali was a bit harder to learn (for me) since it is a more intricate language (the 'raswas' and 'dirgas' always got me)...but never the less, the Nepali teachers had their own ways and they were equally good.

Be it Engish or Nepali, it is just a genuine intent of teaching english thats all...it's not as hyped as some of you (including the author) intend to make it...it's not an intention to move students away from Nepali..it's just an intention to teach english the best way they knew how to.

So, from my point of view, the issue here is non-residents missing Nepali for themselves (and their kids), more than it being an STX issue at all. I myself am settled in the US, and am currently reading Narayan Wagle's palpasa cafe.

Don't blame your weakness or lack of interest in learning Nepali to good people and good teaching institutions with good intentions of teaching. You don't have to dissect everything in a negative way in the guise of 'critical analysis'. Show some respect to the school that has given you so much.

This 'hipness' and counter culture 'cool' stuff comes to all teenagers and is not limited to STX or the way it teaches...I personally picked more of this stuff hanging out with friends from in AND out of school during the teenage days.

And for the record, I never prided myself on reading any Nancy Drew series, but yes, I do pride myself in finishing off the list of books Father Zimmer spent time researching and putting together for us students, to cultivate a reading habit and upgrading our english vocabulary skills. Had I asked Khanal sir at the time for some good recommendations, he would surely have opened a treasure trove. But I sadly didn't and it's my loss, not a hip american volunteer's brainwasing skills.



33. सेन्ट बोरिस स्कूलको भू पु बिद्यार्थी
नेपाली कम अंग्रेजीमा बढी रुची भएका मित्रहरु,  जो गुद्रुके शैलीमा अंग्रेजी बोल्छन्, बिशेष त वहाँहरु को लागि लिंक: http://sanjaal.com/nepalipoems/tag/bhupi-sherchans-poem-jwar-mukta-surya-jalan-mukta-akash-ra-tripta-taal/


34. rishav
I appreciate this writers honest views giving us some insight to what happens to ex STX graduates. It was very bold of him to write about what actually happens to foreign based Nepalis and their kids, opening himself up to attack by Nepali's who find it difficult to understand let own emphasize with his situation. I guess English, especially American English culture was very cool and hip in those days especially in schools like St Xaviers/Mary's. I guess a topee wearing traditional Nepali language teacher  had very little chance in getting the deserved attention from those kids at that time.

I sense from his writing he has some feelings of regret and sadness of what has been lost in the attainment of modern westernized education resulting in a career path abroad.  He has highlighted a few interesting issues here, firstly education or teaching must be a continual evolving process incorporating what was written in old ancient text books for the consumption and understanding for our modern day young citizens. Secondly, it has highlighted the negative stereotyped opinions by Nepali's  for those who have moved abroad for what ever reason by reading some of the comments above. Thirdly, the American Nepali identity which many Nepalis living abroad who have kids would understand. As mentioned most of these kids are pretty much American with Nepali parentage, the amount of influence of Nepali culture or understanding on this child is unfair to solely point at the parents(too easy a target) as most of their communication with friends and education would be in English. Compared with the American - Indian(South asian) identity who are obviously a lot larger and more established  have developed their interest through Bollywood movies, young cultural events including dance even dating events etc which is more appealing to the youths and develop their culture abroad that way.  


35. J. Sherpa
An interesting read, Ranjan. Looking back at my days of Nepali classes (where i floundered, while excelling at English), I think there are a number of reasons.

The 'old fashioned, topi-wearing' teachers were one of them - Nepali teachers were always Bahun and predominantly male, and often came with a teaching style that probably stemmed from that history, which failed to resonate with the wider demographic. With that teaching tradition for Nepali comes a reliance on rote learning (and 'ghokne' is not the most stimulating learning experience), and, often it seemed, intimidation - is it any wonder that some young American with a guitar would be far more fun and approachable? How often do you see someone trying to teach Nepali classes with movies and songs?

... which is the other thing. For urban, relatively privileged Nepalis (and let's spare ourselves from pretending that most people on this website and this discussion forum are anything but), English quickly becomes the lingua franca for development, progress, entertainment, and getting away from Nepal's myriad problems. (also, increasingly schools are 'english medium', which Nepali simply being one subject rather than the structuring language of a child's whole education. Some of the comments above also note the lack of everyday Nepali reading material for young students.) Nepali hasn't exactly kept up with English in terms of having an accessible media and pop culture environment, and even the Rajesh Hamal movies mentioned here are so mired in a stilted ethnic and linguistic history that the high-falutin' speeches the hero inevitably makes generally reference obscure Hindu texts or philosophies, which are actually foreign to huge parts of the population for a variety of socio-economic reasons. 

Finally, it's important to acknowledge that Nepali is not the natural first language of so many people within Nepal, and has often come to the detriment of indigenous tongues (here's where I disagree with Ranjan's statement - in my experience it was the pujari's sons that excelled.) Also, even for many who do speak Nepali, textbook/official Nepali is still far removed from the day-to-day use of the language. Anyone who has tried to deal with some smug bureaucrat will have experienced the disadvantage over 'street' speak that 'proper' Nepali is engineered to create.

"Nepal", like any other nation state, is a construct, and if the (undoubtedly Bahun, male) powers that be want the Nepali to be the language which drives country, something has to give - and that something is probably the arrogance and domination that it still signifies over anyone who is uneducated, poor, or outside the Hindu-urban group that is the stronghold of the Nepali language. Learning English may play right into the hands of neo-colonial western cultural and economic domination, but does memorizing Devkota really offer an attractive and practical alternative?


36. Bipin

When I was not a St. Xavier's student in the early 90s I cared about the English class just as much as any other. Maybe to me it was just another class that I had to take a test and pass. Or maybe I was exposed to the "white Americans" (just the way the writer used these words in his article, I would think that true Americans are always white…….if I didn't know any better) at a very early age due to my grandfather's employment at the United States Information Services (USIS) in a prestigious position. He didn't go to Xavier either. I can only wonder where he would've been in his career had he gone to the Xavier. All he got was a mere award by then US vice president Hubert Humphrey. It could also be that I didn't have it engrained in my brain that white people are superior to me. They are just another human being so it is not mandatory for me to admire and be bewildered by anything and everything they do.

I wish I was like the Xavierian elites who can easily recognize which language is hip and superior and only focus on learning that one superior language rather than as many languages as I can. I am confused though! Since it was the English class that was "hip" to you and your class mates, how come eighty percent of them ended up in a career that has nothing directly to do with the English language. I would've expected them to be a great writers or poets becoming New York Times' best selling authors.

Slave mentality always serves you well. I learned that from our neighbor's to the south. They liked their white owners so much that even after their independence from the British; they decided to keep English as their only official language for a while. They knew it was a "hip" thing to do. They wanted to be (and still do) "in the mix" so bad that regardless of how much Hollywood and any other "hoods" in the English speaking nations of the western world made fun of their accent, they pressed on to speak the superior language with bad grammars while squashing their native tongue. Those who couldn't speak English (while they could speak their mother tongue just fine) were inferior to the English speaking elite. Sometime I wonder why the French, Russians, Chinese, Japanese, Germans, Scandinavian countries, Italians and many others don't have to speak English in order to be elite. I always see Indian head of states giving speeches in English but I don't see Japanese prime minister or French president doing the same. Are they proud of their languages? Fools! Give up you language and creativity like our neighbor's in the south and you'll have bustling movie industry where you can easily remake Hollywood movies. Ditto!   

By the way you I hope that Mr. Adiga would tell me what "pure" American accent is? I have living in the United States for past 18 years and I have yet to find that pure accent. As much as you seem to admire America, I think you have not known all that you can learn from America and about America.

Pardon my bad English as I still can't speak and write pure "English" for the reason I may have just realized. I didn't go to Xavier. That is why I am baffled that I am in the same profession as 80% of STX 92.

P.S. I hope that the writer was trying to provoke a debate using a reverse psychology on how Nepalese devalue many different languages within the country in order to act superior.

BG



37. Purushottam

Mr. American Accent Adiga seems to take a pride on his English stuff and i think he is relutant to say himself a Nepali. That is a shame and the article is really cheap although he might have taken some time to write this. We have got Nepalese all around the world hopefully with a good english then what he has learnt with "Born in the USA"

Jai Nepal



38. Nepali Chori

Its true that Nepali wasn't as 'hip' as the English classes we had back in school, and for that I'm not sure if we should blame the volunteers, or infact credit them. For being able to make learning so interesting. But it is also true, from my own experience, that in school, you'd rather be better in English than in Nepali. Even the teachers preferred the students who spoke in English fluently. No denying that.

I am a Nepali, and mighty proud to be one too. But we really need to start growing up. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and observations. We need to be less reactive, and more perspective.

This article seems to make us a bit uncomfortable.



39. Dr B
By the time I got to comment 25 on this article I just had to go back and read it again in case my "pure English language upbringing" had deceived me and I had misread it. No, I hadn't. The author as far as I could see had not criticised the Nepali language, nor had he said that English was better. What I perceive being said is that the teaching methods applied to learning English were more stimulating than those applied to learning Nepali. Why should he be criticised for that? He is merely stating the obvious that at certain ages the style of teaching is as much if not more important than the content, especially if child centric as opposed to teacher centric.
My faith in my perception was restored when I read J Sherpa's comments (35) who seems to have seen the same intent as well as adding further insights.
A shame that Bipin's comments (36) are so acidic towards the writer with a rather facetious comment "I am confused though! Since it was the English class that was "hip" to you and your class mates, how come eighty percent of them ended up in a career that has nothing directly to do with the English language. I would've expected them to be a great writers or poets becoming New York Times' best selling authors." Perhaps the answer Bipin is that it inspired them to be great scientists, engineers, economists, psychologists, lawyers ....... Does it matter?

40. Doc

I think the way the writer wrote it is derogatory. It would have made an interesting read amongst his friend circle who shared his back ground. It must have been true in a certain school in Nepal and definitely not in other schools for sure.

I would rather say a good command over English language is a huge advantage. I do not agree when some one says that knowledge is more important than language (number 31), neither do I comprehend what Mr Shrepa is trying to say (number 35). Language is the medium to express any knowledge. So English is important, but that does not mean we should belittle our Nepali language in any way.

 

 



41. rishav
Firstly - I do not blame schools, pupils and other interested parties on focusing students to learn English well over Nepali. We have to be practical in this modern World and unfortunately knowing English well would get you a lot further than Nepali. However, as the author is reflecting upon whether it really was worth it to lose our own Nepali cultural language in the process.  I get a sense of feeling of appreciation finally, understanding and regret for not showing respect to his traditional topee wearing Nepali "Brahmin" teacher compared to the young American-English hip teacher.

Perhaps things will change and the rise of India and it's Hindi Language would also create an upsurge interest of other similar languages such as Nepali or at least the Nepali population that can speak Hindi as well. Here is were I bring an interesting point which is divulging from the main topic a little bit. The act of encouraging all  the non sanskript/devanagari script based speaking ethnic populations of Nepal to learn Nepali has actually been very advantageous for them that includes you too Mr Sherpa. Nepali being very similar to Hindi in many aspects is very easy to pick up from a person who knows Nepali, i.e. from watching Hindi movies. This ability has opened up India for these ethnic groups, especially those who don't go to English Medium schools, would have been usually shut on their face.

So the age of old argument whether a language is really worth to focus on for either  practical reasons or for traditional, historical , identity and cultural ones instead. I guess it really depends on the person their views on all these aspects and societal pressures. Like this Author writes how our views and what we find important to us or cool at one time does start to change as we get older.




42. Karki
I am little baffled at the comments people are posting against the writer. However, I will not deny that I might not have comprehended it as intended. I think most of the readers don't understand what the writer is trying to say. If you read all the way to the end then you will realize that writer is NOT PROUD of what he went through but is actually SAD that all of this is happening.
I don't think this story holds true only for STX but is a common to most of the so called "BOARDING SCHOOLS" in Kathmandu. Its not Nepali language but the country that has become unwanted second cousin to the US for us Nepalese.


43. kisho

Look I was in so called boarding school. I got 38 in nepali.I never blame for it anyody, I can't even undersatand my own hand writing after half an hour writing.  But, It has never stop me reading nepali and english stuff equally.

If  u can read and understand, it does not matter whether it is hip or not over other language. You do not need to regret that you did not took it seriously. I guess you still speak nepali with your nepali friends . you can try with your kids talking some words if they are intrested.

 



44. Bipin

Dr. B (Congratulation on achieving that title by the way. You seem to love the title more than your name),

I don't know if you meant humorous or frivolous when you said you found my comments to be facetious but if it is the latter then the intent of the "80%" comment that you have quoted is to point out that to be a scientist or an engineer, you don't necessarily have to be in love with the English language while dismissing other languages (Nepali in this case). You could love other languages just as much and still be a scientist or an engineer.


Initially my understanding of what Mr. Adigi is trying to say was similar to what you have described. Teachers need to be more creative in their teaching to engage students in the learning process. Nepali schools (what I mean by that is most schools in Nepal run by Nepalese) discourage such creativity. At least that is how it used to be when I was a student in Nepal. I was thinking that Mr. Adigi was trying to provoke a debate on lack of interest in Nepali language in Nepal and schools in Nepal are partially responsible. It's the teachers of the language that are responsible, not the language itself. When he mentioned about how eighty percent of STX students from his batch are in the west in high paying job, I wasn't sure if my initial thinking of the intent of this article was correct. I didn't see the correlation between knowing the English language and becoming a scientist or an engineer. China produces more engineers than the US and majority of 1.3 billion of them barely speak English. Better understanding of mathematics and physical science is required to be in a career field that the writer has mentioned. Creative thinking is required and English is not the only language which provokes creativity.

 

Let me make one thing clear here. If someone had written an article about "boring" English language, my response would have been the same. To me all languages carry the same weight. One is not more "hip" than the other.

 

To conclude Mr. Dr, ……no it doesn't matter to me if one is a doctor, or a psychologist, or a lawyer, or an economist or a scientist, or an engineer, but it does seem to matter to you if one is not.



45. Bauji Uncle
Ranjan must be having a big laugh and some satisfaction at raising an issue so dear to readers. The range of comments from profanity to profundity and some shadow boxing among the comment makers is what tickles one to a chuckle or a guffaw.

46. Rants
@Bauji Uncle, couldn't agree more...:-D

47. Dyang ko mula

It is indeed an irony that a school with the motto "Live for God and Lead for Nepal" has 80 per cent of its graduates in foreign countries and none (baring countable exceptions) are into Nepali politics. For me my STX experience was different, I did well both in Nepali and English classes and I took pride in it. Both Nepali and English elocution contests were my forte, and none of my friends ridiculed me for that. It was not the guitar wielding teachers in their 20s, but the desire to be able to speak the language of Dhaka topi donning American born Jesuits (who spoke Nepali with full clarity, command and authority) as well as they spoke my language, that got me attracted to English.

It is our collective mind set that makes anything more or less hip. And of course it would be a tragedy if his children, born Americans, did not speak English with an American accent. They would have spoken English with Castillano accent if they were raised in Spain or English with Indian accent if they were raised in India. That does not make any language hip or not hip.

I have met so many foreigners who speak Nepali very well and it is "hip" for some of them to speak this "exotic" language. My point is may be for Ranjan and his folks Nepali was never hip nor will ever be for his children but there are people for whom speaking Nepali would be the most hip thing in the world.



48. Jyapu Kid

Thorough my school days in the 'hip' Jesuit school, I struggled with my Nepali and never knew why. But I remember that we, non Nepali speakers, were always made to feel inferior of our ethnic identities and languages. Our accents were derided.

I'd rather my children learnt to speak, read and write Nepalbhasha well. Nepali is the language of the conquerors and I really don't give a damn if English conquers it.


49. Observer

'Dyang ko mula' has got the essence right. I agree with him.

'Jyapu Kid' makes an attempt to make it more communal. Do away with such antics.

Mr Adiga wrote it in good spirits and we have been entertained. Let us make an effort to uplift Nepali.

Why don't you clear the air Mr Adiga, once and for all ?



50. Jyapu kid
No wonder we have not been able to move forward. When a person of a different ethnic group tries to forward a genuine argument, he's branded communal and his words become an 'antic'. Am I communal when I say that I was made to feel inferior because people made fun of my accent and looked down at my Newari ness? I am not trying to be communal and neither is my words an antic. If only you people could understand our pain. Remember one this: ethnic feelings is here to stay. Either learn to understand our point of view or see the social tensions in this country deteriorate.

As for Mr. Adiga's article, it's a well written one. But from our world, 
we really don't give a damn. And why would we? Do you Observer for instance care that my language (Newari) is an endangered language and that the Panchayat govts did their best to kill it? Let's learn to accept that people can speak from different ethnic points. I'm sure people belonging to other groups who are pained by the death of their languages would also feel the same.

Adiga is now that his own language is being swallowd by a bigge one.


51. Mula
This article sucked! It is unfortunate that Mr. Adiga was a Xavierian. It is also unfortunate that he was given a chance to study in St. Xavier's. Mr. Adiga, the soi-disant "cool kid" in his class, exemplifies brain drain. Its a shame that Nepali Times published this article.

52. Observer
I am sorry to have hurt your sentiment 'Jyapu Kid' . Languages survive on their merit and does not die merely because some one tries to kill it off. The argument is why English pipped ahead of other languages. I am sorry that you have been mocked and made fun of due to your accent. We should get over it. People should be penalised for doing that.

All the best. Do as much as you can for Newari. 


53. Mr. Hamal

I've been following this article ever since it got published. The feedback its gotten for the most part is, hillarious! I love the article and I think more thought proviking pieces as such should be written.



54. Durga
This seemed like a simple article a light reading and it's interesting the comments it received. A writer's dream indeed!
Like some who've noted here already it's a personal choice how you do things. My kids are born in America but they speak fluent Nepalese and English and read them too. We make an appoint to speak both languages equally. Language is language. But I feel we have to do what we can to try and preserve our language and culture by handing it down to our children. By the way, I studied in St Mary's.


55. jhankri
I really don't understand what the point of this article is, the guy has no interesting observations or ideas.  Only good thing to come out of this article is the comments, I love them.

56. Manish
All that comes in to my mind after reading the article is that the write suffers from acute slave-mentality. Is it either because of his personal achievements in US (being in the 80% elite)??, or because of his mental poverty, he takes so much pride in glorifying  his achievement in english and the so called "pure accent", at the cost of devaluing his own mother-tongue. He tries to get away with demeaning Nepali language by blatantly stating (thanking??blaming??) that it is because of the influence of the Jesuits and the "white-skinned" volunteers teaching his glorified language in his school, STX, which i also happened to be a student of. May be the writer only remembers about the english teaching Jesuits and boring nepalese Gurus, and has forgotten all about the motto of the school, and people like Fr. Moran and Fr. Law who spent their lives for the good of Nepal and Nepalese. I am proud to be a Xaverian, coz it has imparted in me the knowledge as well as virtue to serve my country and my countrymen, and not that it has given me english language training, which the writer seems to be so proud of. Good education makes a person knowledgable, wise, and at the same time humble. I am sorry to say this, but after reading the article, what i feel is that the writer might have become knowledgable, but not wise.

57. NG

OK this article makes me cringe. It is pretty pathetic. Why was it published Mr. Nepali times?????

Who on earth thinks Nepali is not hip, especially in America??

Ranjan says "Occasionally, we meet for drinks and pride ourselves on our Xavierian heritage; we riff on Hollywood and hip-hop; our children speak in 'pure' American accents, and a mere mention of Devkota, never mind Rajesh Hamal, elicits the obvious shrug or sneer"

If you "elicit" a shrug or a sneer talking about Devkota, then I am sure you are hanging out with snooty ppl that no one likes. It is rather unfortunate. Who talks like that??? I have met a few d-bags in NYC who are fake as hell, but even then they never look down upon Nepal or Nepali literature. Aren't you supposed to get smacked if you say something like that?? I know I would.
Ranjan Adiga....time to get new friends.. cool and hip. and grow some balls to smack all of them who sneer @ Devkota. Nepali literature is rich and beautiful my friend.. nothing un-hip about it.



58. thuski
Its funny how the very essence of finger pointing and class envy/guilt that we are fond of as Nepalese manifests itself and can be observed here- all you need to do is read the comments. Having studied in St.Marys myself, I understand the preference of wanting to study/read english over nepali. As young kids you are either forced to spend your entire energy into doing something or you are propelled by your own interests. English in St.Xavier's or St.Mary's was something like this. For those people who think these schools forced kids to study english over nepali or glorified english is absolutely wrong. Grammar was ingrained into your system, be it nepali or english. And how many nepali novels could rival Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew for a growing child? However, it is very sad to come to terms with the fact that some of the brightest and sharpest minds produced in Nepal don't serve it or even respect it by making sure their kids stay rooted.


59. nuji
Please don't speak for all of us.  I was in a boarding school for  10 years in India. When I came to Nepal in the 9th grade, I found myself listening to Nepali like I was learning a new language. I found it beautiful, and found myself trying to speak in the purest form that I could.  Alas 2 years of  Nepali classes (and rote learning to pass the SLC) before STX did not bring me up to speed for college level Nepali.  I was too embarrassed to seek help.  Did not appear to me that anyone responsible even saw me falling behind. Often times, teachers are so wrapped up in the glory of their subject and trying to inspire, that they forget that there are kids out there that really have to get it - sat ground zero, before they get the beauty of it.  I will tell you that I sat through all my Nepali classes, and skipped most of my English ones.  Although I did not pass Nepali by a hair (1 mark) - that was the one class I sat through without skipping. 
Unfortunately, I excelled at all but Nepali.  To this day, I try to speak in Nepali with reverence.  I try to remember the those awesome expressive words that a string of English word could possibly not express.  Let me tell you...I regret it.  And I regret never learning Sanskrit...seemed like mot of the most beautiful words and expressions were derived from there.  Now I find myself desparately trying to teach my kids
Nepali.  I DO NOT snear about Devkota's mastery of the language or the beauty by which he expressed his tales...but you have to admit, his tales were extremely depressing. Not something a teenager instinctively connects to.

Anyhooo...not saying you or your friends did not experience Nepali how you described it.  Just saying that my reason for lousy Nepali is different from yours.  I tried.  NO body gave me time of day to get where I needed to.  I did get  extra tutoring...but trying to squeeze exquisite Nepali in 4 years is not easy.  I have been to Nepal 2 times since STX...and I am afraid my window of opportunity just passed me by.  Anybody know of a good Nepali teacher in the Boston area, please post it.  I would like to relearn the language with my kids.
~sincerely


60. nuji
@ J  Sherpa:
You have expressed the problem really well. I started writing about the lack of reading materials of interest to an average teenager - particularly if the language does not come easy.  And you are right about the disconnect between well meaning teachers and their demographics.  For the 4 years that I was immersed into "text book" language, I was at a loss.  For the first two years, I never even understood it.  Mind you, I had been speaking Nepali all along. Just was forced to speak only English for 10 years while at a boarding school.  Nobody even blinked!! I "rote" learned entire chapters of Nepali because I was very competitive person. I was too busy trying to pass to stop and smell the roses....
sincerely


61. nuji

@ bipin..:) love it! But I am a STX, and I tell you...I was snootier in another school than when I arrived at STX.  STX is was opened me up to diversity, acceptance and love for all things intelligent...so please, don't let  this article taint your perpective of what STX stands for.  I'm not sure about the God part (I need someone to prove to me that there is a higher being than a super super computer out there)...but the "lead for nepal part."..man...I wish I could speak nepali well as I could English!!!!  and I wish I could stomach the the ethical standards of most. I would have been in there, with all sincerity, serving to my STX standards.  However, I've seen my father be burnt in the crux of his career while he maintained the intergrity of a decent human being and an honest sincere visionary and, I opted out. Shame on me!!! But you know, opportunities never knocked my door..or anybody I knew (if they were honest).  Trust me, my family knew a lot of very important people.  My mother initiated unionization  of all things inferior,  Girija attendend my wedding to appease labor  unions(lowest of the low) that my mother established, simply because he had more hearts to win.  His daughter has been to my house to calm her nerves and borrow clothes and jewelery from my family  so she would not look inferior to her ;international counterparts. 

You know why I  opted out? I could not speak Nepali to save my life.  I could have told the population one or two things about corruption, and and the what a few  good people were doing  to influence the world and it's people.  I regret it.  And so much time has passed that I can't go back and open up that window again.  You know why??? I can't freaking communicate in Nepali.  Now, what is sadder than that? 

 Apologies. :(



62. nuji
FYI: I should clarify, when I met Girija and when I met his daughter and when my mom decided to root for them, they were there for the people...as best they could.  A lot of time has passed since then.  The palace politics, the maosists...and everything in between.  If only I could tell you and the masses, what they have been through to bring a democarcy, their sincere efforts to end all things ancient, their sincere effort to bring the world to an understanding...I would have expressed it in nepali, or english, for that matter.  Time has passed.  Everyone has changed.  I find myself thinking, WTF...I missed this opportunity beacuase I could not communicate in Nepali??? And therefore did not have the ocnfidence to speak in the inferior English language...How freaking sad????

63. nuji

@ raj. you might want to do some real research on the culture and motivations of STX gratuates before you call us snobs and elites.  We  are honest intelligent students, who went through hell and back to meet the STX philossophy and standards...who just so happen also to speak English, for one reason or other.  Not that we don't pride ourselves in mastering a language other than our native language but, SOME of us do not pride ourselves for not understanding our own.  It's not the comapnay we keep or the choices we make, it's the ooprotunities we missed.  So please, don't rub salt on our wounds!!!



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