So really, who owns Hindi?

Alright, okay. So I am a North Indian, and someday I will be branded a Northie and questioned in Bangalore as well. I can take that, and would understand the sentiments and politics around that. But, at times, when I am called a Hindi guy as opposed to a Northie, I pause and think.

Would you have guessed that both my grand-moms (ajjis, as in daadi and naani) found it hard to talk in Hindi? One used angika, and another maithili, both of which I can describe as languages that sit somewhere between Bengali and Hindi. Yeah, one is more of a dialect today, but maithili has well documented grammar and literary history as well.

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A Bollywod script – “Full circle”

Flashback. The Girl came home. And told her dad, “The name is Khan, Mrs I Khan”. Dad, a popular leader, an upper caste Hindu with rich roots and cultured upbringing, stared at her young husband who had a Muslim sounding last name. He said, “No way”. Tension persisted, and a few tactical moves later, Dad won the battle of last-names.

Fast forward. Husband didn’t last long, ill health the culprit. Meanwhile, Dad got to rule the land, and passed away in office. After a lull, the Girl took over. A dynasty began. Sons grew up and got wings. One flew long and far to land seven seas away to return with a wife. The other one stayed loyal to his country. Sadly enough, only the better pilot survived to succeed. Eventually, the Girl too lost life in office, and so did her successor-princely son who left behind a son and a daughter.

Longish lull, things get dull, and then comes the climax.

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Indus valley or not?

I have been reading tidbits about the debates – was Harappan civilization truly the “Indus valley” civilization? Or were those cities built around some other river as well (Saraswati, Ghaggar-Hakra?) that doesn’t exist today? How did it end, an invasion, or geographical changes? In that context, I looked up the latest class XII NCERT text books to see what they say. Well, they do use the phrase “Indus valley civilization”, (Refer class XII material on Harappan Civilization), and there is no talk of Saraswati yet. On how it ended – the book leaves it open ended with talk of drastic climate changes as well as a note on the invasion theory.

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The treasure called history

I was barely out of high school then, and was visiting an uncle’s native place to attend a function. I didn’t know why but the name of that place sounded familiar – Suryagarha, a small agricultural village on the banks of Ganga. At the Railway station though, the board said Surajgarh. And then it struck me why it sounded ‘heard-before’. Wasn’t this the place where Mughal army of Humayun lost a famous battle to a rebel? That battle almost changed the history of Medieval India, almost – they say almost because Mughals reclaimed the empire a little later only after that rebel lost his life in a freak accident a few years later.

Somewhere in Surajgarh, on the banks of River Ganga and Kiul, Sher Shah defeated the Mughal Army in 1534 to start his journey towards becoming the ruler of most-of-India. For those who didn’t know this much history, Sher Shah was the king who first built our National Highway #2 (Kolkata to Amritsar today, Dhaka to Peshawar then, or the Grand Trunk road). I remember asking a few folks there if they knew this bit about their place. Some said they did, but didn’t know where that battleground was.

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