In­dian Chi­nese re­dis­cover love for Man­darin


DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Pra­jakta Kasale pra­[email protected]­

Mum­bai: The city’s Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion, in a bid to make them­selves more at­trac­tive to po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers from across the bor­der, are learn­ing the lan­guage of their forefathers. In­dia is home to about 4,000 peo­ple of Chi­nese de­scent, who mi­grated to Mum­bai and Kolkata around six decades ago. But given the po­ten­tial ca­reer prospects as­so­ci­ated with know­ing Man­darin to­day, they are try­ing to re­con­nect with the lan­guage.

Kevin Chu, a 22-year-old from And­heri who is study­ing an MBA and look­ing for a job with a multi­na­tional firm, says, “Hakka, one of the Chi­nese

di­alects, is our na­tive lan­guage. Though it uses the same script as Man­darin, the lat­ter is very dif­fer­ent in many ways. We need to learn it from a pro­fes­sional stand­point.”

With firms in­creas­ingly do­ing busi­ness with Chi­nese clients, it helps to know the lan­guage, es­pe­cially if you also have a shared lin­eage. Nikita Wu, a former jour­nal­ist and sec­ond gen­er­a­tion Chi­nese-In­dian, now runs a busi­ness in New Delhi. She agrees that learn­ing Man­darin would give one an edge. “This is a new trend. Like English or French, Man­darin is also ben­e­fi­cial if it re­flects in your CV. The younger gen­er­a­tions of Chi­nese peo­ple look at it a way to a bet­ter fu­ture. Even my sis­ter has got her six-year-old son learn­ing Man­darin,” Wu says.

For oth­ers, it’s just about rekin­dling an emo­tional con­nect with their home­land. “Penny Lee is a Chi­nese-Gu­jarati stu­dent who wanted to learn be­cause it was her way of forg­ing links with her cul­ture. She is in China to­day. Her fam­ily had been here for many years, and gelled with the na­tives. Many have par­ents from the re­gion. They cel­e­brated their cul­ture and also en­joyed In­dian fes­ti­vals,” says Sne­hal Joshi-Kulka­rni, an In­dian na­tional who teaches Man­darin in Mum­bai.

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