Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hindi Helps

I've decided to learn Hindi.

I'm not going to bother learning how to read and write Sanskrit, as I'm only in the country for a couple of months. I would like to learn conversational Hindi though, as I doubt I've been anywhere in the world where such a slim minority of people spoke English - it's refreshing!

My teacher's name is Chris (see pic), who also teaches me how to cook samosas and a few Indian culinary classics on the side. When my first lesson begins, I'm embarrassed. I don't know how to say hello or goodbye, just 'go away!' Out of shame, I write down a couple of pages full of expressions and phrases that I'd like to learn if possible. I think that when spoken, Hindi sounds similar to Japanese.

Here are the most helpful phrases I now know (the spelling may not be correct, but it's an attempt at phonetics);


Hello - Namaste
Please/Excuse me - Kripiya
What is your name? Aap ka naam kya hi?
Nice to meet you - Aap se mil kar accha laga
My name is ... - Mera naam (Fry) hai
How are you? - Aap kase hain?
                 * I'm very good - May bhaut acha ho
                 * I'm OK - May tik ho
                 * I'm bad - May acha nahi hu.

Some helpful ones for dealing with vultures trying to rip you off are;

How much will this cost? - Kitneka hai?
That's too expensive - Bhaut mainga hai.
That (price) is funny! - Majak kar rahi ho!
Are you a comedian by trade? Kya aap majakiya hai?
Do I look like an idiot? - Kya mai chutiya dikh raha ho?

Save these insults for the wankers that deserve it ->

Go away! - Jao!
Fucker - Chootia
Go to hell! - Bahall mi jao!
Vulture - Gid.


Although Hindi is only the mother tongue to around 20% of the population, a great deal more speak it and through travels in India, particularly in the North, you will find it to be the most commonly used language. It's great for conversing with locals, and on my last night in Varanasi I am able to thank the hotel staff in Hindi for putting together a going away party for me. It caught me by surprise as I'd only been staying there for around a week, but as they told me "you are family, family will not go away without party." Once again I'm humbled by the sheer friendliness and hospitality of Indian culture, you can bet your bottom dollar this wouldn't happen at a 'Holiday Inn.'

The whiskey bottles make their entrance, and the staff members or 'family' as they constantly correct me, become rowdy and joyful in the presence of the amber fluid. There are 8 of us in total, drinking on the rooftop, but 9 glasses are poured - one for Lord Shiva (see pic). I meet a girl from Sweden, on her third trip to Varanasi. She tells me that she returns to the same guesthouse each time, so it can't just be me who thinks this place is wonderful. She tells me that the next time she comes here will be her last time, "it breaks my heart to leave each time." The city has an addictive feel to it, and the more time you spend here - the more you find to see.

I feel I have made some true friends in Varanasi, and not just people hoping to part me with my money. I exchange e-mails and hugs (Indians are not fond of handshakes or personal space) amidst sad farewells. I promise to return one day, and intend to do so. A week in Varanasi just opened my eyes to the place, and I feel there is much more to see. It's always good to discuss English Literature with those who appreciate it too, like Sandeev pictured below (right of picture). I pass on my copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Beautiful and Damned' and he promises to let me know how he finds it. A true character, with a tendency for hasty proposals with the fairer sex, I'll miss him most of all.

Nothing left to do now but swim in the Ganges!

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