It is easy to confuse Jackfruit and Durian. Jackfruit is one of the famous ‘muk kani’ [முக்கனி – மா, பலா, வாழை] trio of fruits from Tamilnadu – Mango, Jack and Banana. Durian is not quite native of Tamilnadu [AFAIK], but more popular in equatorial south east Asia. Not to be out done, Tamil people have gotten taste of this fruit as well; globally however Durian aficionados remain a minority – the fruit is more widely known for being banned from airlines, airports and public arenas for its somewhat off-putting smell to the people unfamiliar with its taste; those ignorant of such this finer thing have no proclivity to this fruit and continue to cast bad light on it.
One day last year during the Thanksgiving holiday here in California, I went out to a grocery store in Bay Area. Silicon Valley, Lyndon B. Johnson’s opening up gates of America to Asian immigrants, the Gold Rush, Spanish Missions in reverse chronological order has settled this area with several immigrant populations – and today we are thankful for bountiful Pan-Asian, European, Hispanic options in the area.
At this grocery store there was big sign : “NOT DURIAN”, and a 1lb pieces of fruit were marked $5. Fresh Jackfruit is pretty much unheard of in USA except when imported and sliced open by immigrant run grocery stores in diverse communities in the area. Definitely, Bay Area qualifies for such a place. While the sign was written with intent to invite Durian wary folk to try and taste the Jackfruit, it did leave a bad taste before trying out the fruit.
Maybe, just maybe our languages and heritage are having bad publicity and marketing and sometimes misrepresentation and misinformation to turn away new speakers, learners and teachers, adoption of language in newer markets and products. Maybe our languages are not Durian. We are the Jackfruit.
அடிக்கடி தமிழில் பலர் சொல்லி கேள்விப்பட்டிருக்கேன்: “தமிழ் பலாப்பழம் மாதிரி, வெளியிருந்து உள்ள வர முள்ளாத் தெரியும், ஆனால் சொழ சொழயா பழங்கள் இந்த முள்ளை தாண்டி வந்தால் காத்திருக்கு!”. முயற்சி திருவினையாகும்.
P.S.: Images credit Wikipedia.