Why do we talk so much? Unlike the scripts of the Far East languages, which are all pictorial or graphic, all the Indian languages have phonetic scripts. So we do not see when we read. We hear. What we hear is what we write (was this why the Chinese invented paper?).
Storytelling has always been part of our folklore. Whether it is the Jataka Tales or the Panchatantra, the story begins with a storyteller and an avid listener.
But is that all. Is this why we speak so much?
As a democracy, we have enjoyed the freedom of speech for more than 50 years now.
And even in the ages gone by, our kings encouraged us to speak. The court was an open forum where we could speak. Ask questions. Raise issues. And stir a debate.
So we speak a lot. Possibly more than any other race in the world. Our temperate climate encourages speech. Relatively short winters. No smothering in thick woollens for months on end.
How does our penchant for speaking affect the marketing world?
The mobile revolution has possibly been given a rapid leg up, thanks to our love affair with speaking.
Now we can speak to anyone, anywhere, anytime. And this was brought home to me on my pilgrimage to the Sabarimala hills.
The trip was, in the days gone by, seen as one of the most arduous undertaken by a pious South Indian.
People used to leave on this pilgrimage with the possibility of never getting back. And till a few decades ago, the only means of communication was the measly postcard one could drop home from the hills after a successful darshan. Older people at home told me that often you got home before the postcard!
It is all different now. Not only are the pilgrims “mobiles enabled”, they even know which network works better on which hill.
The only challenge we noticed was the lack of mobile charging facilities in the pilgrim rooms on the hill.
People say that we are on our way to becoming a country with 300 million mobile phones. Experts tell us that mobiles will one day give us a lot more than just talk. But my belief is that we will continue to talk, and the mobile will help us talk even more.
Mobile companies be warned, the clearer, the sharper, the better the voice clarity, the happier we would all be. While the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has quite rightly usurped the title of The Argumentative Indian, each and every one of us will have to find solace with the more loquacious title of “The Talkative Indian”.
The author is executive director and member of the management board of Draft-FCB-Ulka advertising.
As told to Anushree Chandran