KOLKATA: The city's Chinese are returning to the classroom to learn Mandarin. With the non-Chinese in Kolkata outnumbering the Chinese population in their ability to converse in China's official language, Kolkata's Chinese are taking lessons to brush up their language and participate in the thriving trade and business opportunities between India and China.
Unlike Mumbai where the minuscule Chinese community — third and fourth generation Chinese in India — are now Hindi, English and Marathi speakers, most of the Indian Chinese in Kolkata still converse in Chinese as they have continued to reside in two pockets: the old Chinatown in Terretti Bazar and the new Chinatown in Tangra. But their dialects are distinctly different from Mandarin, the most-widely spoken language in China.
"At present, nearly 65% of the Indian Chinese in Kolkata speak Hakka, a dialect spoken in southern China. A sizeable section of the rest speak Cantonese, the lingua franca in Guangzhou and Hong Kong. The rest speak Hubei, the dialect in which people in central China converse. Only a few know Mandarin that has emerged as the most important language in the world due to China's emergence as a global economic superpower," said Bean Ching Law, president of Chinese Indian Association, who speaks Hubei at home.
“目前，加尔各答的印度华人大约65%说的是客家话，是南方的一种方言。其余相当一部分说的是广东话，是广州和香港的一种通用语。剩下的说湖北话，是中国中部的一种方言。只有少数人会说普通话，而随着中国崛起为全球经济超级大国，普通话成为了世界上最重要的语言。”中印协会主席Bean Ching Law说，而Bean Ching Law在家说的是湖北话。
While Hakka is closest to Mandarin — akin to the similarities between Hindi and Bengali — those who speak Cantonese and Hubei can catch words and phrases in Mandarin but may not be able to decipher sentences that make a conversation.
A realization has now dawned that despite the inherent advantage of being Chinese, they need to learn the official Chinese language to be relevant in the new world order. At 45, Law — a trained architect who is now into IT business — has enrolled into a beginner's programme to learn how to write Chinese and speak Mandarin so that he can transact business with his Chinese clients better.
"There are many Indians in Kolkata who now speak Mandarin fluently. Earlier, Mandarin was taught at Pei May school in Tangra and Moi Kong school in central Kolkata. But with Indian Chinese migrating to other countries in large numbers in the past couple of decades, these schools have now become defunct. Except a few families that took personal initiative to teach Mandarin to their children, the young generation never learned the language," explained Law.
“加尔各答很多印度人会说流利的中文。早些时候，塔坝的Pei May学校和加尔各答市区的Moi Kong学校有教中文。然而随着印度华人过去几十年里大量移民其他国家，这些学校已经关门。除了一些家庭主动教孩子学习中文，年轻一代再也没有人学习这门语言。”Law说。
Hsing, a seventh generation resident of Kolkata, speaks Hakka, English and a smattering of Hindi. "My grandfather spoke only Hakka. My father spoke Hakka and English. I picked up Hindi. My children can speak these languages as well as Bengali. Unlike a few decades ago, it is not uncommon for people to know multiple languages. I am sure the Indian Chinese in Kolkata can add Mandarin to their repertoire of languages and benefit from it," he added.
SECULARS, WHO WILL INTERSEPT CHINA SP1ES?????
But who really cares?
Long live your Mother Tongue - this is very close tonthe heart, as Fathers hardly get to speak their terms.
Chinese are playing a clever game by injecting their things in Northeast India. They may be seeing for what p*rks are doing and Hindus do not retaliate and taking advantage of the situation. This is a high time for Hindus to unite stand against these false intention things. If we do not take steps now, things may go out of hand.
Amit • Piyush
The Chinese are not only clever, they are also very hard working people. They have overtaken us in nearly every matter and will continue to leave us behind if we have this narrow minded, xenophobic attitude. Most great cities of the world are proud of their China Towns. Kolkata once had a bustling China Town too, but as with every thing else, Kolkatans have killed it. Ofcourse, Kolkata cannot be called a "great city" anymore. And ofcourse, your city of Bangalore is hardly a modern city and its citizens are as parochial as you are. Just keep your head buried in your computer . You know nothing about the world, let alone the North East.