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.
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.