Lingua Franca

Can you remember the first French word you had learnt? I can. Let me take a guess about you, was it "Bonjour", "Monsieur", "Mademoiselle", "Au Revoir"? If you say yes, I can safely assume that you were the novel-reading types and you must have read these in a dozen fiction novels where the protagonist travels all over Europe trying to escape from KGB, MI6, CIA or trying to uncover some deadly conspiracy against all odds. I am equally sure that you would have pronounced them in your mind like how you would pronounce an English word. Only later, you would have known that "Mademoiselle" sounds like "memmozee" or "au revoir" sounds like "avva".

If you were not the novel-reading types, in the post-cable-tv-pre-Internet era, there was only one way to get your basic French education - Fashion TV. You had to tolerate horrendously dressed zombies to catch a rare episode of Rio Carnival. I need not say that most of the times it was watched on Mute, so that the elders would not figure out the rate of erosion of Indian culture and values. It was then we came to know about "Michael Adam presents"...and then "Lingerie". And like our novel-reading siblings, we had assumed that it was pronounced the way it was written (only after many years, on one of the Non-mute occasions, we realized that it was pronounced something like "lawn-sje-ray". More weird the accent, more authentic your French is!)

On my way to Mysore (more than a decade after the first French education), imagine my joy when I see this on a wall. Somewhere in this world, even today, there are people who pronounce it the way I used to. Isn't it strange that we humans can relate to each other in the most unusual scenarios?

P.S: My most favorite word though is "Oui". I love the way the women say that in French movies!


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