I have fond memories of Hanif Sanket's 'Ittadi' from my childhood. It sometimes featured sketches of Caucasians speaking in Bangla, and acting out plots based in a village. It was funny and I felt happy whenever I saw people of different cultures speaking in my native tongue.
Today, those warm and happy feelings are replicated whenever I come across Maria's content on social media. Maria is Romanian, and is married to Shehwar from Bangladesh. They are both social media influencers based in the UK. The interracial couple became popular among Bangali viewers because of Maria's near perfect Bangla.
In celebration of the International Mother Language Day, I reached out to Maria to know what inspired her to learn Bangla.
"I started learning Bangla when I met my 'shundor shami.' I have always had a passion for languages. Bangla sparked my interest because I wanted to understand my husband's culture. I also want to perfect my Bangla because it makes hanging out with my Bangali friends more fun," said Maria.
"I learnt how people greet in Bangla, how to say thank you, and eventually learnt of the common phrases that people use in conversation. I think I have improved a lot since then. I can now hold an informal conversation, and I understand quite a bit when watching tv," she added.
Bangla is known as the world's sweetest language in the world according to a UNESCO survey. Maria said she finds it to be even sweeter.
"When I found out that Bengali is known as the world's sweetest language, I absolutely agreed. I think it's relatively simple to speak and understand, and there are no rough or harsh sounds in the pronunciation. It has simplified vowel and consonant sounds which makes it easy to the ear," she said.
"Expressions like 'ishh', 'aarey', 'ah', 'ahhare', add to the character of the language and to its cordiality. If all these reasons are not enough, I find Bengali even sweeter because it's my husband's native language," she added.
Maria also shared her thoughts on International Mother Language Day in Bangladesh.
She said, "For Bangladesh, this day is accompanied by great sadness and loss. It marks a rare moment in history where people sacrificed their lives for their mother tongue. Today, we celebrate this day to pay respect to the great memory of the martyrs, and to honour languages and cultures everywhere."