Dec 14, 2010
Nov 5, 2010
“Oh you know Hindi!, That’s surprising” . Now that is not surprising.
With a typical South Indian (Madrasi is it?) demeanor that I have, the fact that my north Indian colleagues are surprised at my Hindi ‘skills’, is not surprising.
“Oh I passed out of Kendriya Vidyalaya you Know…We studied even Social studies in hindi…So yea.. I can handle hindi!’ Would be my typical response, a tad proud that I got them incorrect in a certain way!
But then, I know for myself on how much of Hindi I can ‘Really’ handle! .Quite clearly, the only Hindi exposure, if I can say, has been academic and I don’t remember having the need of interacting with people around me in Hindi on a regular basis. All that changed when I moved to the northern part of India a few months back. It is not that, Hindi knowledge, rather, the lack of it, is detrimental if you are looking at living in the North. But then, the realization dawns pretty soon.
I end up talking to people around me in hindi almost always! And that’s where I start discovering that what is spoken in this part of the country is way different from the Kendriya vidyalaya’s Course-A Hindi Syllabus (Both Swathi, the poetry book and Parag ,the prose textbook!) .
There are certain things which just cannot be accomplished by Course-A hindi lessons that were taught in school; like bargaining with the Auto driver. You are supposed to sound upset with the rates they quote, argue for the best rate, all in an accent/slang that would convince the driver to reduce the rates. Needless to say most often I fail miserably J. With my textbook diction, I end up entertaining the driver through my failed attempts at bargaining. So I always have one standard line to say
“Arey Bhaiyaa!. Roz (X-20) dekhe jaata hoon main!” where X= amount quoted by the Auto driver!
(Hey brother, I pay (X-20) everyday for the same route)
Now, I don’t even know if that’s a correct statement technically! Nevertheless, It seems to work!
If Accent/Slang is one challenge, recalling the numbers in hindi is quite a handful as well!
As clichéd as it may sound, it is unquestionably true that my first lesson on numbers in hindi, up to 13 atleast, I owe to the legendary ‘Ek dho theen’ song,. And for me, the Kendriya vidyalaya course A hindi took that count to 50 (Pachas you see!). Thanks to my Primary Hindi teacher’s life threat on me for failing to memorize numbers in Hindi up to 50.
Despite taking up the tough part of ‘ 50 to 100 : hindi version’ in secondary school, I don’t seem to recall them quick enough to use in conversations.
Coming back to the Auto chap, the (X-20) that I quote usually, is a number above 50. So, when he quotes X, I take some time to process it. Step one of which is to subtract 20 from it and arrive at my ‘response to the quote’. The second step requires me to translate the same in hindi and confidently throw it back at the auto driver. Now, the challenge here is, I have to do it rapidly in order to stay in the bargaining game. After a few initial bloopers, I got hold of the numbers, atleast the ones on the regular routes.
And then, I encounter this auto chap who reminded me that I was not quite into Hindi numbers yet! The conversation goes something like this
Me: Sector 126 chaloge?
(Me:Can you take me to sector 126?)
Auto chap:Chalenge sir…
(Auto chap: yes sir,we can.)
(Me:How much would you quote?)
I wanted to know his quote (X),so that I can proceed with further steps.Usually the X is Rs.90 or Rs.100, in which case my response would almost always ”Arey Bhaiyaa!. Roz satthar (70) dekhe jaata hoon main!” This guy was plain honest!
Auto Chap: saath rupaya sir
(Auto chap:Rs.60 sir)
I heard it correctly, but I had already assumed it would be either 90 or 100!. So I go with my usual response
Me: Arey Bhaiyaa!. Roz satthar dekhe jaata hoon main!
(Me: Hey Brother, I pay Rs.70 everyday for the same route)
Auto chap: Kya? Kitna bola aapne?
(Auto chap: What?How much did you say?)
And then I realize the mistake!! He actually quoted 60 and I offered 70! Now, regaining whatever senses I lost, I responded!
Me: Kitna Bola aapne?
(Me:How much did YOU say?)
I could have easily told saath (60) when he asked me and sealed the deal, but chose to hear it from him. He did quote 60 again and was hoping I would make the same mistake. Thankfully, I didn’t
From such unintelligent encounters with auto drivers to situations where I had to breakdown a 3 digit number in hindi, digit by digit (eg: 145 is equal to ‘Ek sow painthalees’ is also equal to ‘ek chaar paanch’ :D), it is hilarious in a way.
It also reminds me that it takes more than a Kendriya vidyalaya course A to claim comfort on hindi conversational skills!
Sep 20, 2010
Sep 12, 2010
Sleeper berths in Indian railways are ideal for those who fit into the boundaries of the berth. Once you cross one of those, more often than not, you are in for action!
It can be anything from those unknown Co-passengers on the walkway, touching your feet with their heads to weird 'S' shapes on the berth while sleeping. My friend describes the 'S' shape dilemma here. Given an option, I always prefer upper berth where a protruding feet is not a problem for the walkway passengers. Indian railways don't give an option every time you travel, do they?!!
My amma and I were traveling back to madras in train after a good 4 day vacation at friend's and this time I had to deal with the 'Side Upper' berth which actually gives an isolated feel and hence minimal disturbance to other passengers in the bay. However, they are a bit shorter than the other berths (or i feel that way!). I try negating the length by choosing a diagonal position which works most of the time(Refer Pic 1!).
Picture 1: Top View of the Sleeper berth (And that is me!)
My amma though had other plans. She chose to make my problems a bit more complex by giving me two hand baggage to be kept besides me as they had 'valuable' contents. Keeping them under the seats would be risky! Apparently!
So now, My problem statement was simple. Sleep on a berth that would not fit me in and also safeguard the 'valuable' contents! I was trying to stay awake by sitting on the berth, leaning on one of the baggage and holding the other on the inner side of the berth like in Picture 2
Picture 2: Side view of the Berth (Chose the side view so that the baggage positions can be clearly shown. Again, Thats me!)
Obviously,I knew that was not the way I can sleep a whole night.I was just delaying my sleep as I could not come up with any solution,so to say!
An 'S' shape facing outwards would create two slots on the inner side where the two bags can be placed. This is how it looked
Picture 3: Back to top View of the berth to show the 'S' shape. Though I have shown the bags to fit into the slot, they actually didn't!
However, the baggages wouldn't fit into those slots (Damn! will enything ever fit In!!??) More than that, IT WAS painful to be in that position for more than 30 mins!
Whatever it was, One thing was pretty clear that I was not going to get a comfortable sleep that night.So I had to settle down for a less painful option. One that will ensure the safety of those bags and accommodate me on the berth...well almost accommodate me! And the solution looked something like this
Picture 4: Side view of the berth. I was in that position for 5 Hours with my eyes closed and trying to sleep!
The inclination on the bag helped in reducing the body length to be accommodated in the berth by a few inches. Owing to a poor torso to limbs proportion, it wasn't a major reduction! So I had to take the diagonal position as well! This position was not comforting, but less painful. One which I could take for 5 hours and not more than that!
And It was 6 in the morning. I stepped down from my berth and found my mom awake. She asked 2 questions
"Good morning! Did u sleep well last night? And are the bags safe??"
She wished me Good morning! So I chose not to talk the details of it, just smiled and said "Yes"!!
Jul 6, 2010
Few of those ‘smile’ moments I had last week
A colleague at office to me: “It took really long for me to move back to delhi.I was finding it tough to manage in HCL Chennai for the last 2 years.Language problems, no proper north Indian food you know….I think there is a conspiracy behind all this for which Shiv Nadar is responsible. He is deliberately moving North Indian people to Chennai and people from Chennai to places like Noida. That clearly explains why you are here! “
( Trust me!..He was damn serious about his observation and …..I chose not to answer…..errr….Chose to smile…Phew…Of all the things in the world, Shiv Nadar handed over the reins to Roshni Nadar,ONLY to get into this ‘Conspiracy’ thing full time!...huh…..)
My little 3 year old niece to me:" I think I am not going to talk to you the next time you visit me. You are so grown up and I always see you in half pants. I think Grown ups are supposed to be only in full pants and you are one of them! We will talk further when you are in full pants"
(Boy! I didn’t see that coming….and didn’t have an answer!)
At hindsight though, I guess those questions were better unanswered, for one, it would have dragged the conversation to no logical conclusion and perhaps would have diluted the ‘surprise/silly/fun’ part of those questions.
The best part is it gives you a reason to smile! Helps people who just cant stop smiling! I have quite a few friends in that category!! (ahh well....I am in that category too..)