Friday, March 05, 2010

How Do You Say "Help! I'm Being Eaten by a Tiger" in Hindi?

OotyI'm slowly checking things off of my To Do list before we leave in ten days. India, here we come!

I feel rather sheepish--once we finally decided to take this trip I got the "How to Speak Hindi" bug where I was determined to wow the locals with my impressive vocabulary. I got a few phrases and words down and made Andrew smile with my comic attempts to say important things like "My tongue is pink" and "Why do you have my library book?" but then I stumbled upon some key information.

Apparently they do not speak Hindi where I'm going.

So much for my "Bharat ek adbhut desh hai." In fact, it's worse than that. In Tamil Nadu I read that it is offensive to even attempt Hindi because of the way Delhi has pushed the language on them. So don't even try it, just keep on walking. Don't even turn around.

ChennaiGreat, just great. Back to the drawing board. So what language do they speak you ask? Well that's a bit more complicated. In fact, India has more dialects than people (I've heard) so pinning down exactly what language to speak can be difficult. There are 29 states in the world's largest democracy and we'll be going to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Anna Pradesh (at least that's the count so far, it could vary) and in Karnataka they speak Kannada (not to be confused with Canadian--that I can speak. As in "Are you bringing extra beer to the hockey game, eh?") in Tamil Nadu they speak Tamil and in Anna Pradesh they speak Telagu.

The only language anyone speaks with any consistency is, in fact, English. My parents know couples where the wife may speak Telagu, the husband may speak Kannada and neither understands the other's native language so they talk in English which is the second language of both. And it's not as if these are languages that resemble each other. The script and the words are all different, though there are some words that can be similar, just as you'd see in Italian and Spanish or something.

For example . . .

Hello in Hindi? Namaste
Hello in Kannada? Namaskara
Hello in Tamil? Vanakam
Hello in Telagu? Namaskaram (the formal version)

So maybe I'll just practice my vacant American stare and goofy smile for when people speak to me, though I am determined to at least have a couple words in each language down by the time we get there. What else are 23 hours of flight time good for anyway?

I'm planning on writing about every step of the trip, I'm sure you'll get completely tired of me by the time I'm done but as a preview I'll tell you a few of our plans. I got a note that Mom and Dad made reservations at the Cicada Resort on the Kabini River where we'll be on safari. My parents were there this past year and had a great time so they're taking us back with them. We'll be going to Ooty--which is just like "booty" only with less B--to see the tea plantations (picture at top). It is actually called Udagamandalan so I can see why they shortened it to Ooty. People were passing out from lack of oxygen by the time they finished saying it.

Also Chennai (formerly Maddras) which is pronounced She-NI and is the capital of Tamil Nadu. On the way there we'll be stopping by Sampath's village. Who is Sampath? Well Sam-pot (if you're looking for help pronouncing that) is my parents' driver who has practically become one of the family. No really, I think the last report on the status of their wills said "Nichols kids out, Sampath in." Or something like that.

Aishwarya RaiAnyway, they love him and he drives them everywhere on their adventures but they've never been to his village. They've planned to visit it especially while we're there so we can see it and meet his family too and according to them it is an actual village--two, maybe three hundred people--so I'm going to get quite the spectrum of Indian life from raging metropolis to country hamlet.

Of course I'll be all over Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka (and home to Aishwarya Rai whom you see here). Actually I don't know if she lives there still, but that's where she's from--Karnataka. I mention her because I loved Bride and Prejudice and that's pretty much my only introduction to Bollywood. Obviously my education has been lacking. Those eyes are completely amazing. How far would I go in life with eyes like that I ask?

Mysore PalaceWe'll be in Pondicherry, a former French colony and renowned for its colonial architecture and culture, and Mamallapuram (also called Mahabalipuram), known for its temples, and Hyderabad (capital of Anna Pradesh) with its Golkonda Fort and over to to Mysore for the Mysore Palace (which you see at left here) and . . . all sorts of places in between. I cannot wait.

And monkeys . . . there will be monkeys. Oh yes, I can assure you. Lots of monkeys.

You won't want to miss it.

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28 comments:

Becky said...

I have to say, I am SO jealous, but I can't wait to hear all about it from you! Eat some samosas for me.

Boskey said...

As an Indian, living in Mumbai, it will be interesting to follow your trip and what you think about things around this part of the world! Welcome...

Patricia L said...

Monkeys are to them like rats are to us (as in pests), right? I think I heard that somewhere. Have a great trip!

Mel said...

I HATE MONKEYS!!!!!!!!

Dad

owlfan said...

My mom is going to Greece this summer and decided she wanted to learn some Greek. One of the first phrases she learned was "I understand a little Greek", which I found hilarious as she clearly doesn't! It doesn't seem like learning about library books is much more useful. Why don't they have better foreign language for travelers - I want to know how to say things like "where is the" bathroom, bus stop, etc and the words on menus!

Stephanie said...

What a fun adventure. I am looking forward to your posts.

NorahS said...

Have fun! I cannot wait to read every detail.

Janelle said...

Can you fit me in your suitcase?

cndymkr / jean said...

While India has not been on my list of places to go, I can't wait to hear about your trip. Where are the kids going? I'd be more then happy to come up and watch them.

Scribbit said...

Patricia--I don't know exactly, I do know that my Dad hates them :) (if you notice his comment). I've heard they're aggressive and invasion and cause plenty of trouble so maybe that's true. Though that's a BIG rat.

Boskey--nice to hear from you. I'm worried that I'm going to melt with the heat. My parents have become so accustomed to it that I see them wearing sweaters when it's dipping down to 85. I hear we'll be hitting the beginning of the heat so I'm hoping I don't completely die.

I'm expecting great things though, I've heard so much from them about how wonderful it is that it ought to be great. It's so nice to have someone there to guide us around and show us what to see.

owlfan-I've got three lists on my computer, basic words in all three of the main languages and I think I'll try memorizing as many as I can. I'm looking forward to meeting many Indian people, as my parents live there and all their friends and acquaintances are Indian it's not as if we're going to get the hotel version of things. We'll actually get to meet people while we're there and I'm really looking forward to that. Seems that sometimes you go to a foreign country and only meet the desk clerk or the bellman.

cndy-my sister is watching the kids while we're gone (one of the great things about having family nearby) and she's been amazing about it all. I wouldn't be going if it weren't for her. Can you tell I'm a big fan? :)

Jenny86753oh9 said...

You know I grew up there so I have to say:

1. When in Tamilnadu, if you sound like you're swallowing your tongue while talking, they'll accept any form of Tamil. :-)

2. My absolute favorite dish in South India is a Dosi. I'll be floored if you don't love it! I also love all varieties of Thali's too. Hope you get to try those.

3. Lastly...I'm SO, SO jealous.

Can't wait to hear about your journey!

Organizing Mommy said...

Have a great trip!

Chrissy Johnson said...

Aishwarya Rai is (I think) the most beautiful woman in the world! I love the restraint and poise the Indian actresses show.

planetnomad said...

It's funny how much farther you can get in English (or French) than local languages in so many places. YOu'll just have to work on your accent, which I believe you do by putting your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
I'm totally jealous of your trip btw (India is on my must-see list!), and am looking forward to living vicariously thru you :)

Kim @ What's That Smell? said...

Wow, that sounds like an AMAZING trip. Have fun and good luck with the language.

Personally, I'd pretend to be from Canada or England or something, that way if you offend anyone...LOL

imadramamama said...

Oh my gosh, I hope you have an amazing time! And you better take LOTS of pictures of those monkeys!

Daisy said...

Have a wonderful trip!

Mrs. Organic said...

I am so excited for you. Do you get to experience a traditional Indian toilet? I know, such an important question.

And yes, lots of pictures, please (whatever will you do with all the daylight?)

Lori said...

I have two friends who are from the Tamil region and they also speak Hindi (and English for that matter). I'm sure you'll do fine!

I can't wait to live vicariously through you!

bigguysmama said...

Again, thankful for this post!! I had ordered a TON of Hindi stuff for my daughter to learn before she goes on her mission trip. Guess we'll just cancel them from the library!

~Mimi

Jthemilker said...

I'm looking forward to hearing more about your trip. My line of work is physician credentialing so you are headed to areas where I often write to. Very neat! Enjoy!

Suzie B. said...

Will you be taking a break from the blog while you're gone? Or reporting back to us 'as it happens?' Either way, can't wait to read all about it.

Anwesha said...

Have a wonderful trip.I will be watching this space eagerly for wonderful anecdotes and stories of your trip.
Shubhyatra.
(Bon Voyage in Hindi btw :) )

Anwesha

Boskey said...

The summer is starting around here and the tempratures, esp. in South of India should be above 35 Celcius, so, for someone from Alaska, its gonna be a really hot place! Once here, just try and see how comfortable you are before you begin your road trip

Stephanie said...

What an incredible experience this will be for you! I can't wait to see your photos and hear your stories. Is everyone in your family going...or is it just you and your husband?

stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

Scribbit said...

Just Andrew and I are going--I wish we could take the kids.

niveditha said...

It would have been nicer if kids accompanied you. Anyway, language shouldn't be a much problem to you, as Bangalore itself is like a Mini India, you find people speaking almost all the languages of the country. English will save your throughout Karnataka at least, i can say. And one more thing, its not Anna Pradesh, it is Andhra Pradesh, a neighboring state of Karnataka

Candace said...

I had missed this post! SOOO jealous...India is *the* place I most want to go but I am going to wait until the kids are older.

Oh, and monkeys--my husband had to scare off a monkey that was chasing me in Cambodia.