o continue with musings about my life here in Shanghai, recently I went to a DVD shop to buy some, well, DVDs. This is definitely not something I do only in Shanghai. I obviously did it back in India too!! What was unique however was that I bought a DVD of 3 Idiots in the shop. Yes – a DVD of a Hindi film in a small out-of-the way shop in Shanghai. Our own 3 Idiots, subtitled completely in Chinese! It is also not uncommon to find youngsters sing “All is well” with élan. It was indeed interesting to see how a film was bridging the gap between the youths of both the countries. Perhaps this was a reflection of a sense of shared experiences of the youths of both the countries!! Recently, I also met my friend Akash. No – he is not someone who had come over from India to especially meet me but a native of Taiyuan, China. His actual name is Jia Yan and he is a final year student of Hindi (Hons) at the Peking University. And he is fluent in Hindi. For many, this may not be a new phenomenon. Many already know about Chinese students learning Hindi. I wanted to further explore the reasons for this. For Akash, to study India and to understand India, it was necessary to study “one of the main languages of the world which is spoken by 400 million people… ..I think Hindi is indispensible for understanding the lives of ordinary people in India.” The rest of his classmates chose to study Hindi as they were either interested in international relations and trade or Indian history, culture, religion and art. The prospects of studying Hindi also seem to be bright wherein students can go to work in the public sector or enter into the booming bilateral trade domain. Academics
also offer a bright future where research on India is increasing by the day. In fact, research about India has always been under-taken in China, albeit more about Indian culture and history. China has produced a great Indologist, Prof Ji Xianlin, who has translated the Ramayana into Chinese. By 2008, even the Mahabharata had been translated into Chinese by scholars of Peking University. In addition to Hindi, Peking University also teaches Urdu, Sanskrit and Pali!! A Master degree course in South Asian studies is also run by the university that teaches about various aspects of India. Currently, I am on a trip to my friend Rita’s place in Gansu. Again, as you might have guessed, she is my Chinese friend from a small city called Zhangye in Gansu. She studied Hindi at the Xian International Studies University. After graduating, she teaches Hindi at Yunan University of Nationalities. Her university started its Hindi language course just last year. According to her, there are now six universities in China that teach Hindi as a major. The teachers are mostly Chinese, with a few of the universities having full time teachers flown in from India. The others employ Indian students studying there as Hindi teachers. Thus, it seems that from Indian films to Indian language (China Radio Prof Ji Xianlin, translated the International is supposed to Ramayana into Chinese be airing channels in Hindi, Urdu and Bengali), the gap between Indian and Chinese peoples, especially the youth is reducing. The future seems to be promising…
Three Idiots in Shanghai
‘INDIAN BRIDE’ A Chinese girl admires herself in a Indian wedding saree.
Sumelika Bhattacharyya Chronicle Bureau, Shanghai
January-February 2011 India-China Chronicle |64|