Usha's latest post prodded a long-forgotten memory.
When I was working at my first job, I used to commute, with my coworkers, in a bus to the factory/lab. The commute was one of the best parts of the job because it gave me almost an hour of continuous reading time each way. Of course, sometimes the person sitting next to me would be chatty and I'd put my book away. Anyone who knows me knows that I like to talk as much I like to read!
So one day, I was engrossed in reading, when I felt someone occupy the seat next to me and I was amused to note that it was the Big Boss's nephew, who had recently joined the company. Big Boss was the General Manager. His nephew stood out in the crowd because of his ultra-hip haircut and his 'hi-fi' accent, as we girls called it. You see, this young man (let's call him B) had spent some years getting his higher education in the UK and thus spoke with what we called 'a foreign accent'.
Anyway, so B and I introduced ourselves and started talking. He turned out to be quite interesting (and not weird, as we used to think). We got around to talking about the row between Prince Charles and Lady Diana (Yes, it was that long ago!) and he asked me if I thought she should divorce him. He, in fact, asked me, "If your husband was super-rich, he made sure you led a comfortable life, didn't physically abuse you but had extra-marital affairs, what would you do? Would you leave him or ignore his infidelity?" I was quite flummoxed - this coming from an almost-total stranger! I don't remember exactly what I replied but I'm pretty sure the answer would be quite different, were he to ask me the same question today!
Well, after a little while, I gathered enough courage to ask him, "So why do you speak with this funny accent? (Okay, I may not have said "funny"!) And he said, "You know what, I'm not the one with an accent; you are! You speak with an Indian accent while I don't have any accent." It didn't make any sense to me! I prided myself on not having a regional accent at all and this guy says I have an Indian accent? He's nuts!!
Only now do I realise that he was probably right. In the West, especially in the US and UK, if you speak "like them", then you don't have any accent. While if you speak what I considered unaccented English, it is accented. And even among the English and the Americans, there are regional accents that set them apart: the Irish Brogue, the Southern Twang etc.
So I've come to the conclusion that we need to shed this complex about having or not having accents. They're no big deal. They just indicate where you are or where you came from and should be taken like that. Accents are "put on" or "modified" for clarity and better comprehension and not just for "impressing" people.
I wonder where in the world B is today and how he speaks! And does he have any idea that he has inspired a whole blog post?