It was out of their sheer love for Hindi that 15 French students travelled over 7,000 kms from France to Bhopal. Drawn towards the language either by Bollywood films or in quest of their roots, the French scholars are learning the language for a few years now.
Francois, a film technician who cannot get over Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’, said: “I was deeply influenced by Indian cinema…I always wanted to come here and speak in Hindi with Indians.”
Francois along with the French delegation visited several tourist spots in the city, including Tribal museum, Manav Sanghralaya, Sanchi and Bhimbetka rock shelters, during their three-day tour of the state to get a better idea of the city’s rich heritage.
Hindi is the fourth most natively spoken language in the world and is the official language of Madhya Pradesh.
Liza, who is learning Hindi since 2012, said: “My dadaji (grandfather) was from India. I wanted to reconnect with my origins and that’s how I started taking Hindi lessons. It’s my first trip to India and I am happy to be able to talk in Hindi with the locals.”
Sharing her excitement, Kavita Garg, an NRI who has been teaching Hindi in Paris for the past eight years, said: “I started my class (in central Paris) with just one student and now I have taught Hindi to over 500 French citizens. I am surprised to see their love for Hindi. I brought some of my students to Madhya Pradesh seeing their eagerness to become more articulate in the language and also Indian culture.”
People in Bhopal are very eloquent in Hindi, Garg said.
But it was the fluency of these French students that caught Padmaja Srivastava, an arts enthusiast who guided the group through Bhopal. “I couldn’t believe initially, when I saw this group of foreigners speaking Hindi fluently without any major grammar mistakes,” she said. The group left Bhopal on Friday for Gwalior.