Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Me and my knowledge of Hindi
Rakesh should be back this week and that would mean a little more use of Hindi for me. A lot has been said abt my knowledge of Hindi. Growing up with a mom who speaks very little of the language and a sis who speaks a bit too much of it ensured that my knowledge of Hindi was praised and ridiculed in equal proportions within the Nandy house. The same trend followed me to college. Staying with a bunch of people from North India and dating a wonderful South Indian ensured flak and praise in comparable amounts. However, if I had the liberty, I would prefer English over Hindi any day for the simple reason that Hindi has the most complicated gender usage I have come across. Friends have tried instilling the logic behind the Hindi gender system in me, only to befuddle me further. I still have no clue why 'beard' is feminine. Seriously, the notion of terming something growing on the cheek of men as a feminine object appears a tad bit cheeky, right? It would have been fine if, to compensate, the saree was made masculine. But no! That's a lady too. I just pray that I never see anyone supporting both a saree and a beard together.

I cant help but mention one of my favorite gaffes with Hindi. Eons ago I spent some time in Chennai courtesy dad's transfer there and remember the most amazing conversation I had with a lady in Hindi. Somewhere during the course of the conversation I forgot the Hindi word for rain i.e. 'barish'. Now Hindi was the only common medium of discourse between this lady and me and I tried my level best to explain to her what I was talking abt but she just couldn't imagine that I had forgotten the word 'barish'. So while I tried describing to her that I was talking abt water falling from the sky, she went on to guess everything from a leaked roof to hail storms. That's what lack of practice does to a person like me :(

Shall end this post with another hilarious anecdote, this time involving the darling G, who spoke less Hindi than a North Indian goat. The girl could count only till 5 in Hindi and on facing the onus of asking a shopkeeper for 12 pieces of some item said - "Panch Panch Do Do" (give five five two). Aaaah! Woman you take the cake - the entire dozen.

Reminded of a grand-aunt who apparently was trying to tell a Delhi autowallah to hold her umbrella while she got her wallet out to pay him. Instead she said "Mera chhati pakro, mein paisa deti hoon."

Hopefully you figured out all the implications of that statement.
ani, that's a gem - true to it's content it is giving me a 'hearty' laugh :)
unrelated o the thread but i noticed that in my prev comment i have used the apostrophe incorrectly for "its" and not used it for the "it is". little amusements.
Reminds me of my PS in france when I wanted to ask a guy in a photoshop whether the shop's open on monday. I know ferme is closed, lundi is monday. I tried putting everyother word in between - he looked at me as if I was talking in mandarin. Finally, exasperated, I asked him in english, "Is this shop open on monday!". "Yes of course", he replied in impeccable english. Sometimes, it just helps in talking in the language you know best :)
Back in BITS, at the end of sem,the Raidiwala comes to my wing and asks my wingie,"Jee panch sau rupayee dena hai".
My friend, an apparent hindi-literate ponders as if he has to make the decision of his survival and replies clasically " boss, mere ko nahin chahiyee". Our dude thought that the raidiwala is planning to give him 500 rupees. let me save the expressions of the raidi-fello after my wingie's dialog.
Hey Chait, ur wingie pretty much sound like my mom - she once told our neighbor "betey ko bhejey din". now "bhej" is send but "bhejey" in Bengali is "fry". all this when my sis was rolling with laughter :)
OK - this one is the best till now. A little long, so bear with me.

A Bihari friend, K, takes a trip to Calcutta to visit his Bengali pal, R without telling him. Unfortunately thanks to Indian Railways he reaches R's house at nearly midnight. When he knocks on the door, R's very suspicious mother opens and the following conversation takes place in Bengali, which K knows reasonably but not well enough.

K: R aache? (Is R there?)
Mom: (naturally suspicious of strange Bihari men who show up at her house at midnight) Naa, bondhur barite aache. (No, he's at a friend's place)

K realises that the lady is suspicious and asks to meet S, sister of R, who knows him and will verify his identity.

K: S aache?
Mom: O ghumochhe (She's sleeping)

Now K confuses the Bengali word 'ghum' meaning sleep, with the Hindi word 'ghumna' meaning to wander. Surprised at his friend's sisters nocturnal wanderings, he asks -

"Eto rattire kar shaathe ghumochhe?"

(Who is she sleeping with at this time of night?)
Baker's dozen, you mean...
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