MUMBAI: "Mera chehra dekh ke price mat bolo," says Sylivia Chang, an interior designer and mother of two, while shopping on Mumbai's streets. She's part of the city's minuscule Chinese population estimated at around 4,000 people. Many, like Sylvia, have lived in India for generations. She speaks English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and a bit of Bengali. But her features ensure she's routinely called Nepali or North East Indian. "I get to skip queues in government offices as they think I'm a foreigner. They are surprised when I start speaking Hindi," she laughs.
South Mumbai resident Kitlin Chang (20) says shopkeepers on Colaba Causeway put on an accent when she passes by. But shopkeepers in Shanghai are far worse, and shoo her away when they figure out she can't speak Mandarin.
"Where are you from?" is a question she's frequently asked in India. Born and bred in Mumbai, this third generation Chinese settler tells people her parents are from Kolkata and Mumbai. The questions persist. People want to know where she's 'actually' from. The questions tire her.
A bid to connect with her roots is part of the reason she recently joined Mandarin classes in Mumbai conducted by Inchin Closer, an India-China language and cultural consultancy.
But sentiment isn't the only inspiration for learning Mandarin. Like many Indians, she hopes Mandarin will give her a competitive edge in the global job market where China is an important player.
"I'm currently working at an IT start-up that collaborates with a Chinese manufacturer. I recently attended a job expo in Mumbai attended by many Chinese, one of whom began talking to me in Mandarin. I couldn't understand what she was saying. I wish I did," says Kitlin.
While Kitlin speaks a smattering of Hakka, native to the South China region her family comes from, Sylvia speaks Hupeh, another provincial Chinese language. Both feel Mandarin, like Hindi, would give them access to much larger swathes of the country.
yet another guy
Other Indians will follow soon for better jobs in Chinese firms
Chinese speaking 5 Indian languages really interesting information....they are cleaver people...
Another trick by this newspaper to put blame on Modi and Hindus. I was educated in Shimla and we all knew there are Indians of Chinese origin and no one had any problem with them or made any remarks. Present government has to enact an act to compel media to be neutral and stop spreading lies to create religious, caste and ethnic hatred. Indian media is in forefront of this conspiracy.
Learning their native language is a must for them to scale up and get a space in Indian huge opportunities!
This plurality is the beauty of Indian social mosaic!! Let us be proud of it!!
These people need to be expelled back to China
Hire them now! Work for Bharat!