Does the name Satshya Tharien ring a bell?
She calls herself a serial hair dyer, is the Queen Bee of language hacks and shares the occasional financial advice you wish you knew. This food-obsessed enthu cutlet is our dose of happiness, or as I’d like to call ‘our happy pill’, on Instagram.
Mangalore-based Satshya Tharien is a content creator and a senior content strategist working at an ed-tech startup. It’s very hard to miss her bubbly posts (unless you don’t follow her, which you should). Because, when it comes to her content, she’s essentially sharing her learnings in the most creative way possible.
I am going to real honest here. I didn’t know Satshya was a Malayali when I approached her. I was under the impression that she really loved our language so much that she decided to learn it as a hobby. Turns out, I was wrong.
So, here’s me, breaking the bubble I created about Satshya, and going on an adventurous trip to know the Malayali within her.
Even though Satshya is a Malayali, she rarely visited Kerala. She lived all her life in Karnataka and would travel to Tamil Nadu/Mysore to meet her grandparents. A trip to Kerala would have happened only to attend a few weddings. As such, she lost touch with the language. “When I was younger, I thought Malayalam was too ‘uncool’ and would refuse to speak it, and unfortunately, missed out on speaking it on an everyday basis. So now I’m trying to make up for the lost time.”, Satshya shared.
She further added, “Apart from the linguistic aspect, I’ve also found Malayalam difficult because I’ve faced a lot of ridicule from other Malayalis. This has made me extremely hesitant to talk in Malayalam in front of other Malayalis. But I’m slowly learning and getting more confident.”
The lockdown gave her a chance to look back at her language roots and she decided to give learning Malayalam a chance. She commented, “I really enjoy speaking to my parents in Malayalam and I was very determined to improve it. That’s when I noticed how so many words are similar, yet familiar to me and I wanted to share my learning process with people.
Having grown up speaking in Kannada, Tamil & Malayalam, it was always a big jumble in my head. Like Desham in Malayalam is anger but Desha in Kannada is country. So I would use visual cues to remember words from different languages. Eg ‘thod’ is earring in Tamil so I would always picture a frog earring (toad). Regarding similarities, I’ve found that the Kannada script is very close to the Telugu script. Malayalam and Tamil share a lot of common words.
But it is certainly not true that if you know one South Indian language you will automatically learn all of them. I’ve learnt so much through making my ‘Hacks to Learn’ series and I hope others have too!”
Many people are jingoistic about their ‘mother tongue’ and look down on other languages; English and Hindi being the main victims of this hate. Satshya is a believer that knowing more languages is a boon. When she was younger, she used to think speaking only in English was ‘cool’ and so she neglected learning a lot of local languages. Only after moving to Delhi did she begin to appreciate the nuances and rich cultures that these languages carry with them. “Having come across people in Delhi who refer to Malayalam as ‘oonga boonga boonga’, made me all the more determined to give more attention to it.,” she commented.
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Satshya Tharien’s tip for non-Malayalis eager to learn Malayalam is to watch truckloads of Malayalam movies. I completely agree! Right from the storyline, acting to cinematography, everything brilliant is served on a silver platter to the audience. “That’s how you can also pick up more conversational Malayalam as well, which makes it easier to talk to your Malayali friends”, she said. And of course, watching her Reels would help you too!
Here are a few fun insights about Satshya Tharien I bet you didn’t know about her”
- The toughest Malayalam word, according to her is, thollaayirathiyhonnuttiombath, which translates to 999.
- Her favourite Malayalam word, though, is kozhi katta. She loves it because it’s fun to say and is a really yummy dish too. Some of her other favourite words are panjaare, kochhe, mol, kuttane – all words of affection she has heard growing up. It always makes her feel all warm & happy.
- Her favourite meal chorr, beans thoran, more curry & some chemmeen roast.
Satshya Tharien is the kind of creator who knows what it means to be an insider-outsider. Through her initiative to learn the languages she grew up listening to, we can all learn to appreciate the role native languages play in shaping our identity. Our history, culture, and sense of belongingness stem from our language. This is the larger value Satshya has managed to instil within us.