17th October 2017

This is one of the most important lessons that Germany has taught me about Pakistan

If there is one thing that every country in the world can learn from Germany, it is their unwavering loyalty to their culture. They have nailed the way to prosper without sacrificing their roots. They have employed such systems in place that ensure that natives learn to appreciate their heritage and expats need to embrace it to fully experience the German lifestyle.

In contrast, Pakistani culture and language are rapidly chasing extinction. Look at the language we speak today (I recently saw a judge on Battle of the Bands say that the performance was “tight”. I gagged and now listed to all performances on Patari – sans comments). Rola is a word (yes, I can’t let go of it). Urdu that many use today is devoid of proper pronunciation. And the absolute worse, English words are being accepted in written Urdu script as well.

During my tech detox last week, I had enough time to ponder upon important things in life and realised that with my generation, many aspects of our culture might die – from food to fashion and language. With this nagging thought in the back of my mind, I started scribbling English language letters during one of my gazillion meetings for the day at work. Letters ended, but the meeting did not. So I moved on to Urdu letters and to my utter disappointment, I couldn’t recall all of them. I had forgotten the sequence and few of the letters. I was ashamed of myself. How could I?

My exposure to Urdu in writing, for last couple of years, is limited to a few disjointed verses of Urdu poetry every few weeks. That’s about it. I scroll down if I see an article in Urdu on social media – not because of lack of interest but I know that reading through it will probably take me an hour and kill the joy of reading.

The situation looks dismal but I aim to change it. Especially now that I have realised that Pindi Boys does not equate to Desi Boys (in my defense, I hadn’t been exposed to people from Pindi until recently. Bad excuse but the truth).

To make amends, I have started weekly Urdu posts on my Instagram and Facebook channels, to practice writing, and hopefully inspire people to engage and write in Urdu (not the embarrassing Roman Urdu please).

I also intend on getting a few books when I go to Karachi in December, no matter how notorious their covers might be. There are a few websites where you can read Urdu novels online, but I am an old school girl and prefer black and white on paper.

What can you do to make sure you and the generation that follows is not deprived of the pleasure of Urdu language – I sound preach-y but I am only trying to help. Please skip if it offends your sensibilities.

  • Pay attention to children when they are learning Urdu. I studied in an “English” medium school, and Urdu language course at O-levels was a joke (unless you take it as a foreign language, and are a gora of some sort).
  • Continue reading Urdu, at least once a week. Visit Liberty bookstore, and pick up a few books that look interesting. Read through them as if you were assigned to do so for a project at school.
  • Write a letter to your mom or dad in Urdu every month. Communicating events and emotions in a language is probably the toughest task, and undertaking this exercise will keep your Urdu command sharp and honed.

Language is a matter of pride, and Germans did a phenomenal job reminding me of it. Let’s try to at least pass on our beautiful language Urdu to the next generation, with the hope that they would do the same to the lot after them. While the world is shrinking by the second and cultural lines are being blurred, it is more important now than ever to cherish and preserve individual identities, and stand tall and proud with your cultural assets.

Until next week folks. Check out links below for background stories on some of the anecdotes mentioned in the post:

About Shaheen 1023 Articles
Need coffee, romance, fashion and manicure to survive. KHI - DXB - CGN

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