Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Anecdote - Achchaji/ Aapka suitcase ji

I like Hindi and still trying to learn it.Didn't have an opportunity to learn Hindi in school. Picked up few words of Hindi from colloquial Tamil(?!). e.g. 'Dhosth', 'Dar' (used a lot in Madurai), 'Bada' (bejaru) and 'kammi'. The Ramayan and Mahabharath serials played in Doordarshan in those days helped in picking up few more words like 'Pithashree', 'Paranthu' and 'Aakraman'

   When we went to Delhi as part of the college 'All India tour',
 I witnessed how the students faced problems due to limited Hindi knowledge. A group of students would ask some shop wala, 'Kithne Rupya?' in pukka pronunciation like that of a Hindi pundit, the shop wala would say some amount in Hindi. The students would look at each other, trying to check whether any one of them had understood and when every face was blank, they would finally tell the shop wala 'Tell in English!" in chorus sounding like Shakespeare. Some students when attempting to buy something, though the shop wala had told elephant's price in Hindi, assumed that the shop wala told cat's price and attempted to bargain it for mouse's price. The net result was they didn't get the product instead they got a punch or shove from the shop wala.

  Immediately after finishing degree, had to go to Mumbai to attend the B.A.R.C interview. To know the bus stop location, I asked somebody for help in my own(!) Hindi.To my surprise that person understood my question and told the way to the bus stop. I stretched my hand and showed the index finger only to deliver "Shukriya!". It sounded like thanking in a threatening way.Was not comfortable with lengthy responses though. The questioning process was continued till somebody used a hand to show the bus stop which was at a distance or told "you are standing in the bus stop!" by pointing to the ground. While going in the bus, wanted to know how much time it would take to reach the B.A.R.C. I used all my Hindi vocabulary to frame a question in Hindi word by word for 5 minutes and finally came up with 'Kithne samay ko B.A.R.C?' and asked my neighbor in the seat. The question was asked in good faith that the short answer would be within the limits of my Hindi vocabulary but it was not.
   My elder neighbor didn't get a clue about my Hindi knowledge, since he wasn't supposedly good in mind reading, started telling a lengthy response which lasted almost 5 minutes. 5 minutes question got 5 minutes answer. I was not understanding any single word of his fluent Hindi. I felt like watching a Bollywood period film without sub titles. Inside I was panicking that he shouldn't know that I didn't know Hindi. To continue my act, every time he paused, I was saying "Achchaji". Internally I was thinking "Boss! please stop, you are wasting (y)our time!." It seemed my neighbor was a chatterbox in Hindi like I was in Tamil. Those two human systems had common natures but didn't have language compatibility in Natural Language Processing.Finally when he finished I prayed god for making him finish his answer, told him "Dhanyawad" with respect and turned to the window side. Never turned to his side till I got down at B.A.R.C

Delhi Tamil nadu express
   Once I was returning to Chennai from Delhi in train. In one station,a large group of uniformed,armed men boarded my compartment. Though that compartment was full, every one of them wanted to find a palm size place to sit. I was in lower berth. Wanting to help the armed men, I told two of them using hand sign to sit, after pulling my legs. That gesture was responded by three big persons and I felt like a man in Win zip. Though I was uncomfortable, wanted to help even two more guys by showing them a place to sit in a funny way. I showed two guys a huge suitcase which could comfortably do the role of a bench for them temporarily. One of them asked with gratitude in his voice, "Aapka suitcase ji?". I hand signed to say no and showed a sleeping old man. Both of them laughed at my silent reply but didn't miss to use that temporary bench.

No comments:

Post a Comment