Thursday, March 12, 2009

HINDI........Our National Language

The hotel I checked into at JAIPUR was comfortable and could stay for a week at the company’s expense till I would get my own accommodation. From the time I spoke to the room boys at my Hotel, at the tea shop, restaurant, the Bank, the shops, the city bus, petrol pump,Post office... everywhere the problem was common --- I did not know HINDI. I could only speak in SIGN LANGUAGE, as none were willing to speak in ENGLISH.

I went to my new office and found all the 3staffs there were hostile in attitude towards me. But I wasn’t worried of it. My worry now was HINDI- the language was new to me and English to them was alien. My Mother was a M.A. in Hindi and she did advise me to learn the language but never in my wildest dream did I think that there will be a need in my LIFE.

So initially I was on a mode to know everything at work and was very friendly and never did I exhibit any bossy tendency. I remember going to meet a customer as I was into marketing and I could not understand a word he spoke and had to stop him mid-way, and asked him to speak in ENGLISH. He looked at me from head to toe and with a look of bitterness in his face told me “Kai ke liye idhar aye ho, vapas chale jao, thum kaam ke liye nalayak ho bina HINDI ke.” (Why have you come here, just get back, you are useless here without knowing HINDI).

That shook me like I was slapped on my face. I went back to my office and felt I was like fish out of water.
I made up my mind that I would learn the language at the earliest. On my way back I got myself a transistor to listen to the local news, advertisements and all the programmes to learn HINDI. I ensured that I also got a dictionary which was from English to Hindi and to speak only in HINDI even if I were wrong. Then started my pun/fun and a comedy of errors, but I wasn’t to give up.

I did get myself an accommodation in a Punjabi infested locality despite being a bachelor. My landlord was a Hindu Punjabi and his family was friendly. His mother was an old lady of 65 years who looked at me like her own son. His two kids and his wife were also friendly. But I looked like a comedian in their midst. It was like virtually I could converse only in actions as if I were dumb, because they weren’t familiar with English and me not in HINDI.

The land lady, who was just 3years elder to me, would go into peals of laughter if I would speak a word. But I wasn’t to give up. I wasn’t ashamed and did tell her that she can have some good entertainment at my cost and the price she would pay is to teach me the correct dialects to improve my linguistic skill in HINDI. That was a deal.

I would go to my office half an hour earlier and would prepare for the day with my dictionary of all that I would have to speak to my colleagues there. I would use the words learnt often to perfect myself.

I remember the day I called my office peon and handed him a letter and said “yeh chitti daak ghar le jao aur isko panjikrith karkey bej deh na”( I asked him to take the letter to the Post office and post the same by registered post) he was shell shocked that I spoke to him in HINDI with clarity within 2months of my arrival.

I could speak to all and that gave me more confidence to meet the customer who had slapped me with a negative remark-- to get back without knowledge of HINDI. He could not believe it and welcomed me with a cup of masala chai which comes from his house to his shop. That was satisfaction of TRIUMPH which made me warm inside despite the temperature being COLD outside.

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