I stayed at a PG in Hyderabad for a few months when I was house/roommate hunting. It was the first time I live in a hostel like setting and had to share a room. I used to keep to myself most of the time as I didn’t know any of them and most of them had lived to together for a while then. Most of them only spoke Hindi. I was very concious of the fact that I was replying to them in English everytime they spoke to me in Hindi. Though I had a fair idea of what they were saying to me, I could hardly speak 3 sentences confidently in Hindi. In my defense, some of them spoke Hindi like Telugu. After a point it really annoyed me that my knowledge of Hindi or the lack of it became the general topic of conversation. It put me off so much that for as long as I stayed at that PG I plainly refused to speak in Hindi.
A couple of years and a really supportive roommate later, my Hindi actually got way better! In my smug moments, I think it is pretty good. But there are somethings I still don’t get about the language.
- I can’t fight in Hindi! The words just don’t come out right. There have been times I burst out laughing at my Hindi in the middle of a fight.
- I don’t know numbers in Hindi. I can say 10, 20, 30, 40 type numbers but 58 and 74 and the likes are beyond me. I just don’t get it!
- I don’t know what vegetables and some ingredients are called in Hindi. For that matter, I don’t know what some vegetables are called even in English. So I sorta gave up trying to learn their name. I just go to the shop and point and say – ‘yeh kitne ka hai’ or ‘woh ek kilo deejiye.’
- Last week when I went grocery shopping, I wanted to buy ‘ghasaghasa.’ I had no clue what it was called in Hindi and the shopkeeper didn’t understand English. The husband had no clue what it was any language. So I went online and searched for ‘poppy seeds in Hindi’ on Google!
- I can’t swear in Hindi. I find it extremely eeky.
- I definitely don’t get this Hindi poetry type stuff.
In spite of all this, the last time I was in Madras, I sat in an auto and started giving the auto driver directions in Hindi! Ouch