the language of failure.

5 May

i may be a lot of things (awkward, slightly chubby, loud, flaky etc.), but i am definitely not an ignorant person.  ok while lack of ignorance is generally the rule, i have just realized a less-than-exceptional exception.

so as we have established, i didn’t really do much in the way of preparation for this year.  what little i did do  included spending no more than 5 seconds thinking about language issues.  literally, this was my thought process:

second 1: “wow, india is far away. shit.”

second 2 – 3: “[looking at google images] that’s really weird writing on those signs. what language is that?”

second 4 – 5: “bah who gives a care. weren’t they a british colony for like…ever? everyone will speak english anyway. ooh look, a cookie!”

so you see, kind readers, this ingenious line of thinking (which is true, sadly, and not simply for your amusement) has brought me here, to a country that i have only just come to realize is filled with 18 official languages. none of which are english. thanks, imperialism.

ugh – i’m ignorant.

anyway, this unfortunateness brings me to today, as i waited ever-so-patiently  in line at the ramakrishna cultural school for the language class admissions officer to comb over my visa. about 15 minutes later, after watching him look at every page of my passport, he announced the following: “well, your visa looks valid.”

“no shit, sherlock. i’m standing in front of you”, i was thinking. “i’m through immigration and past the guys with the big guns! so sign me up for beginner hindi or feel my wrath!”

while my internal voice was going b-a-n-a-n-a-s, on the outside i was simply nodding my head and smiling sweetly in the passive aggressive way only canadians know best. it was super effective, as always.

60 minutes later and several more angry stares in, mr. investigative immigration officer slash admissions man finally announced that hindi classes were on tuesday and saturdays 6.30 – 8. oh joy! oh bliss! but my elation was short-lived, as he then said i couldn’t sign up today – i’d have to come back saturday.

i don’t think i’ve actually stomped off anywhere since i was like 2 1/2. 

you guys – seriously – i’ve been containing myself so well since i got here with their weird (lack of) processes and blatant disregard of timing. unfortunately today i lost my patience. but, while amusing, i guess that’s not really the point of this tale.

having realized my sheer language ignorance, i am now almost frantically desperate to learn hindi – evidenced by the above tirade.  i need to have the freedom of india’s main language so i can talk to taxi drivers, pizza delivery men, market ladies, clients in the field, colleagues and most importantly – my caretaker tapas. 

tapas, his wife (name as yet to be discovered) and baby (who i am calling habib, because the name sounds something like this) have been so amazing to me.  he has facilitated my toilet-fixing escapade, the gas-getting and he even brought me the six glorious beers of last friday. she has made me tea, invited me into their 1-room apartment and has fed me many a delicious snack. 

and little habib? well he has entertained me with his incredible propensity to slap people across the face and then giggle uncontrollably. 

baby habib and tapas's wife. who actually isn't angry at me - although she looks it here...


unlike my clear language ignorance, the land lady said tapas knew right after i moved in that  he’d have to learn english to take care of me.  and he’s doing just that, impressively enough. (although i’m not sure who is teaching him because he keeps calling my maid the “washer lady”.  which amuses me, so i don’t correct him.)

really, this long-winded post is to tell you that while i am trying to avoid being the i-word here as much as possible, it happens.  and when it does, i am finding inspiration to change from wonderful people like tapas and his family.

now let’s see what happens on saturday.


8 Responses to “the language of failure.”

  1. A.A.B. (auntie angie baby) May 5, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    I hate to sound obvious but you’re white allie – very white. You are a target for arrogance and process. To make it easier for you I am sending a one-year’s supply of brown face paint and a copy of Aretha’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Let’s see if it helps bring you on par with the rest of the population. Damn deserve better!

    • Al May 6, 2011 at 10:03 am #

      haha ill get by – i mean – its like 95% hilarious and 5% stomping off. although yesterday was definitely a day i could have used some blending in…although it likely doesnt matter. they treat indians the same way here. its just their relaxed culture i guess!

  2. ica May 5, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    Washer lady!! Bahahah lmao! AwWw he’s so cute! He’s trying so hard tapas. His baby is so cute! Your right his wife does look pissed but she is great if she’s making you treats!!

    Be patient sister!! It will take you A long way !!

    Love ya! Ica

  3. Hannah May 5, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.”

    So I will just sit here and giggle at you, instead. You will survive. You will be infinitely better for being able to survive.

  4. Will Sitch May 6, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    Hanna didn’t consider that you just might not survive. Good luck with that. Survival, I mean.

    • Hannah May 6, 2011 at 1:36 am #

      You have met our Al. She is a sneaky one.

      Never assume with Al. She will always exceed your expectations or throw you a ringer. You just never know.

    • Al May 6, 2011 at 10:04 am #

      wont you be sad if i dont come back now? im going to make them read this comment at my eulogy.


  1. disaster preparation and other unexpected surprises. « hey it's me, al. - June 16, 2011

    […] yes, i still don’t know baby “habib’s” real name. and actually i’m lucky i know that he’s a […]

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