Tuesday, September 09, 2008

As Hinglam as it gets

Having moved in to a new city just a couple of months back, the past days have been filled with esteemed visits from painters, electricians and carpenters among others. Predictably, none of these guys know English, not even Hinglish at times and neither my mother nor I know Hindi. We know little enough to give directions to taxi drivers in the range of “seedha jaayiye”, “left lelijiye” etc. but can deftly read and write Hindi (with the help of the third language Hindi courses we did back in school respectively).

Since I am at office during the week, most transactions happen between these guys and my Mom. During weekends, I too am treated to a few of these conversations! Some memorable snippets as follows:

Supervisor: “Rod kal aayega”
(Apparently understanding what he says): Kallu kal aayega? (kallu is Tamil for Stone)
Supervisor: Kal aayega
(turning towards me): Paravale! Kallu naalaikku vandhidum (Good, the stone will come tomorrow)
I, having understood the conversation a little better than her tell her it might not be so after all. She chides me saying that I do not know Hindi enough to understand their conversation. I shrug my shoulders and give up.
(now back to the main conversation and making some actions with her hands): kallu (stone).. kallu (stone).. wo kitchen ka kallu.. stone.. kab aayega?
(an enlightened man now): Kitchen ka stone abhi nahi aayega. Bathroom ka rod kal aayega
The conversation is finally over! My mother is unhappy that the more needed stone is preceded by the unnecessary rod. I heave a sigh of relief at having been saved from forgetting what little Hindi I use to survive this megalopolis!

The medicinal treatment
I walk home one day with groceries and vegetables in my hand. A heated one sided conversation is taking place in Tamil. The painter leaves and then I ask my mom, “Is he a Tam?” She gives me a very naughty smile and says, “No he is a Marathi.” I get confused and ask her why she was talking to him in Tamil. She says, “He knows that I know neither Hindi nor Marathi and still kept talking for 10 minutes straight in a mixture of those two languages. So, I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine. As soon as he stopped, I talked non stop in Tamil for 5 minutes. He got terrified and left”!!

Relationship Building Measures (RBM)
The other day, Mom and I were walking into the building. My mother walked up to the watchman and started holding a conversation with him. She said, “Suresh, Ganpati ko no chutti?” meaning “No holiday for Vinayak Chathurthi?” Since I did not want to corrupt my already scant Hindi, I decided to watch this spectacle from a safe distance. During the course of it, both participants were vigorously shaking their hands in different ways and shaking or nodding or shaking and nodding their heads and talking. Finally it ended and we got into the lift. I asked her what they had been talking about. She responded with a “Who knows? I talked in English + Tamil. He talked in Hindi. It is just a part of my relationship building spree with the people here.”
Project RBM is executed in more ways than one.
(to carpenter): Naam? Naam? Aap ka naam?
(to fitter): Bhai behen hai? Bhai behen?! Sister brother?
(to servant): Ghar kahaan? Beti which class?
(to refrigerator installer): Kaana (meaning Khaana) over? Want Paani?
And so on it goes..

And, yeah, God save the world!

P.S. Hinglam = Hindi+English+Tamil


Ramya said...

lovely.... aunty rocks anywhere anytime.. its time aunty starts learning marathi as well...

Deepa said...

Good stuff !!! Free entertainment :-)

Archana Kumar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Archana Kumar said...

Pinni pedal thaan po Aunty...watchman episodekku kodukara reason - real class...
neways, seeing the title i thot it's abt Hindi + English + Malayalam...& wondered whether u know Malayalam...forgot abt the word Angilam :P

An idle mind's wasted lines... said...

Nice one.... I have spent my chilhood in Patna.. and had similar experience watching my mom try out hindi... Good luck with it! :)

kavity said...

@ ramya: I will pass on the message to her :)

@ archu: paravale! figure out pannitiye!

@ diggy: thanks.. need loads of luck with this!