In today's world, we all keep moving from one city to another in search of greener pastures on the employment front. You end up working in places where you are not familiar with the local language and culture. Understanding the culture of a place or city, may be little easy. But picking up the local language would be a tough task.
Knowledge of local language is very important to strike the right chord with your fellow employees, neighbours and with people we face in our day to day life. However equipped you are in the common communication language like English, local language would be a big plus. I have seen people from many parts of India coming to Chennai and working here. I also know many people who have left Chennai or Tamilnadu to work in a different state or city.
From my personal experience, I can say that guys who move out of Tamil Nadu have picked up the local languages much faster than those guys who come to Tamilnadu. It is possible there are exceptions like guys moving to Bangalore and they are under no obligation to learn local langauges. But even in Bangalore there are many friends of mine you have picked up Kannada and talk very fluently. I know of guy who is a Telugu but has worked in Bangalore and Chennai and he speaks all these three languages, Telugu, Kannada and Tamil. I can also speak some Telugu(!?) though I have never lived any part of Andhrapradesh.
I think generally, people from South India easily pick up new languages compared to my brothers/sisters from northern states.
I have seen hundreds of my colleagues and friends in my office and outside, from North, West and East India, who have failed to pick up Tamil even at conversational level after so many years in Chennai. They still speak one or two words in Tamil, which is usually something like poda, kirukku, eppadi erukku(!!) etc and they think that they have mastered the language. They still can't strike a conversation in Tamil with a colleague or with an auto rickshaw driver.
Normally, their conversations with auto drivers would be like this:
Waves his hand to stop an Auto-rickshaw and the dialogue goes like this:
Auto-rickshaw Driver (ARD): vaanga, Sir (Please come in, Sir)
Man: Evvaluv? (How much?)
ARD: Kilpaukkulla entha pakkam, Sir?
ARD: Where? Where? Kilpauk..
Man: Mummy - Daddy pas (near Mummy Daddy)
ARD: Nooru rupa kodanga sir (Please give Rs100, Sir)
Man: How much?
ARD: Hundred. Hundred.
ARD: Sir, Kilpaukulu orrey one-way Sir.. chuthi chuthi poganum Sir..
Man: What? What? No One-way..No one -way...only 70
The conversation goes on like this and finally they would settle for a via-media price.
But look at the South Indian who goes to Delhi for 5 years. Can you imagine him living in that city without knowing Hindi? He would learn that language within 6 months and even if he comes to Chennai, he speaks like kya hyar?? kya chalta hai? etc.,
I cant understand why these non-southerners have a big mental block in learning the local language. Let it be Tamil in Chennai or Kannada in Bangalore, I can bet 95% of them would not have picked up the language even after being in the city for more than 5 years. At times it irritates you when they start talking in Hindi assuming that everyone around understands that. Wont it be interesting if you try to learn a new language? I am sure it would be fun. I have interesting experiences trying to learn Telugu from my room-mate.
Will write that next.