Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Hindi - never ever giving up!

- So, what do you speak in Norway? My friend looks at me. - Norwegian, I say. - You have your own language? She is showing a mix of shock, impression, and amusement. - Yes, I respond, - but-it-is-quite-similar-to-Danish-and-Swedish. Why do I always say that? Like that can explain it. We love our language though - with all the different dialects and variations.

A luxury maybe, our very own language, for around 4 million native speakers, in Norway. Ok then - also for the Norwegianamericans and for a few more around the world - so spoken by around 5 million people.

Now, I live in India, a country with over 1,2 billion inhabitants, and over 1000 spoken languages. Over 400 million people speak Hindi, the official language for the Republic of India (together with English).  But the different states also have their official languages, and no - they do not necessarily understand each other!

Of the 1000 languages, 22 languages have more than one million native speakers each and 50 languages have more than 100.000 native speakers.  In our state, Maharastra, they speak Marathi, as do 90 million people in India. In Punjab they speak Punjabi, in Kerala they speak Malayalam and Gujarati is used in Gujarat. Just to mention a few.

So, is it confusing for a foreigner? Well... I am grateful that so many people speak English! And then I can spice it up with some Marathi or Hindi words. BUT - do not believe I have given up! Do you remember, I did a Hindi crash course? Well, I have been practicing a bit, but - it is really difficult... ( re-phrase: I get lazy, because I get by so well with English).

However, a funny thing happened when I was at a market, shopping for some garlands. I was looking around, and I overhear this lady next to me asking the seller: - Kitna he? Oh, joy - I understand - she is asking for the prize! He answers her: - (something) pachas (something).

- Aha, 50 rupees, I say to myself ( extremely pleased, I admit, both with the prize and with myself ) So, I look around some more, and find some (slightly different) garlands I like, so I ask the seller (in English, because-what-were-those-words-again..) - How much are these? He tells me: - 80 rupees. Hm, that was odd?! I look around a bit more, and take up one of the garlands the other lady had looked at: - and this? He nods at me: - also 80 rupees, mam

Ok. I could have walked away or maniac-bargained, but by then I had already started to giggle inside, so I could not help myself, dear reader. I turn around, smile at the seller and say - I am going to give you 200 rupees,  and you give me 4 garlands, so I have the same prize as the lady who just asked you about the prize and you said 50. Ok? 

He looks at me. Not sure what he is thinking. He wobbles his head - Ok, mam.

What? To funny - for a foreigner. And kind of encouraging. A curious mind like mine - I just can not give up right? Got to learn some more Hindi. Got to! Watch out, market sellers - I'll be back:-)

So, today's useful lesson:
KITNA HE? = How much is it?
GARLANDS KIA BHAAV HE? = How much for the garlands?
BHAAV KAM KIJIYE ( optional: KRIPYA)  = Reduce the prize (optional: please)
Well, today is the last day of the Ganesha festival, and I might head off to see the immersion of the huge  - really huge - Ganesha statues (we are talking 6,7 meters tall here!)

And, maybe I will practice some Hindi while I am out there - Ganpati Bappa Morya...  - wasn't it? See? There is hope! :-) Have a lovely evening, dear reader!

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  1. It's a nice feeling when you understand Hindi, but then you go to say it yourself and completely forget how!! Even though foreigners get overcharged, I pve noticed they don't charge too much more..

    1. Yes- really nice to understand! Should practice some more though...:-) Have a lovely evening:-)

  2. Oh!ya market sellers change their price on the spot!Its always nice to know the local language ....Post 'Acha hai'-Its good!

    1. Ha ha ha - definitely! I agree:-) Have a wonderful evening Shwetha:-)

  3. I grew up around people who speak Hindi / Urdu and although I can understand, my accent is

    Kudos to you and your family for taking such a big leap and moving to India! Amazing.

  4. Thanks:-) It is exciting to be here:-) Have a lovely evening, and thanks for commenting:-)

  5. That was a lovely account of your Hindi speaking lessons on the streets of Mumbai, Eli. And, you seem to be doing pretty good already! I am sure with more instances like these, your Hindi will only be getting better and better. :)

    1. Thank you so much Arti - for encouraging and kind words:-)Will not give up yet! And shopping in the markets in Mumbai is hilarious. Love it! Warm thoughts to you!


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