Monday, July 10, 2006
Busting a few Myths
On the bus to Satyam Cinemas to watch Superman Returns, I encountered a rather interesting incident. Somewhere near Panagal Park bus stop, there erupted a bit of a commotion on the bus. The conductor appeared to be loudly telling off a passenger, and I suppose the guy responded with protests. The argument continued for a while and soon the conductor's admonitions began to to be interspersed with words in chaste Tamil. Then I heard the passenger loudly responding in what could only be a broken Tamil with a Hindi accent, interspersed with words in chaste Hindi.
As it often happens in such cases, each of them soon discovered that they had better things to do: the conductor was busy giving away tickets and the passenger was looking for a place where he and his baggage could stably park themselves for the rest of their journey. Despite that, each of them was mumbling away in their own languages, but not at each other.
The passenger found a place near where I was seated, and then almost immediately, a concerned fellow-passenger began to talk to him in a heavily Tamil accented and broken Hindi, interspersed with Tamil accented English. They then started discussing the events that lead up to the fracas, in Hindi. (I do not wish to go into the details here as I was not paying too much attention, plus, buses are usually noisy enough to have loud, yet private arguments). Then another chap joined in the discussion, also in moderately accented Hindi and English. The three men, all strangers, two of them obviously Tamil, were having a rather elaborate conversation in Hindi, speckled with Tamil and English, on a bus in Madras. Ok, how random was this incident, or how typical would this be? Not very, considering that on this occasion I got a seat on a bus (a rather rare event), but yet, it showed up a few things. Some of us (including me) are more multilingual than we're prepared to accept.
Comments to Busting a few Myths
Hindi? In a Chennai bus? Wow!
I admit, that I'm familiar with the language in passing. Never had a problem with it, but never saw the point of learning it either.
That said, I have had a coversation in Hindi with Tibetan refugees who were a few months old in the country, so I suppose it's more common than you thinks.
posted by Kingsley3:00 pm, July 13, 2006
I too am surprised by the amount of Hindi I can actually understand and speak. I strongly suspect they inject us when we're born and it takes us a while to unlearn it.
posted by Anand9:49 pm, July 13, 2006
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