I am no stranger to people not understanding me. I was born in South Carolina and lived in the somewhat deep south until 4th grade. We moved to Germany for 5th grade and sometimes people did not understand what I was saying – I had me a twang. For 7th grade we moved to Georgia – minus some of the twang – I had lost most of it – and some of my words seemed odd and, strangely, less accented.
Six years in Georgia fixed that quite nicely. Pass me a mint julep. Pretty please. And then off to college I went. Up North. Well (just barely) south of the Mason Dixon line. But North is in the eye of the beholder. It was in a very diverse area but an area with no real accent of its own. Enter my southern drawl. Could you spell that please – I heard that more than once and it seemed so insulting. Doesn’t everyone say PEEEEEEnuhhhhts, puh leeeeees?
Then there was the time I went to visit my cousin in Wyoming. Play me some mountain music, Hillbilly. The friends of my cousin laughed so hard at my accent that their sody pop came right out of them their noses. I cried for over an hour. They were not tears of joy.
So moving to India and hearing the different accents hasn’t been too hard for me. I can sympathize. I just slow down my ears and listen up real good. It is really amazing, even the Americans here are from all over the world. It is the United Nations of Accents.
Last week, I started taking Hindi lessons. Okay, I have had one (ek) lesson. But I have been trying out some of my new words.
It turns out I still have me a funny little accent. The three Indian men in my daily life, Raju, Ravi, and Kahn all have a hard time understanding just exactly what it is I am trying to say. When they slow down their ears – they can understand most of it. It is a lesson in slow for all of us.
I was leaving to go to the market the other day and Raju and Ravi taught me how to say goodbye – ta ta. Sounds like Tigger – hey, I can remember that. I can even spell it.
Then they tried to teach me how to say “take me to” Defence (this is not misspelled – remember the British influence here) Colony market. I don’t even remember the words they tried to teach me because I am blocking this from recent memory. They told me – I practiced – they laughed – I made them pinky swear they weren’t teaching me to call our driver a jerk – and I practiced again.
Then I got in the car
Me: Kahn and then “what (I thought) they taught me to say”
Me: Doesn’t that mean “I want to go to Defence Colony Market”?
Me: What did I just say?
Kahn: Defence Colony Ma’am?
Me: Okay. Defence Colony Market it is. Can we go there?
Kahn: Yes Ma’am.
Then our driver explains the market to me. He’ll park here and wait for me here. There are two sides. You go down the right and then come back up the right. He’ll wait here. Here is where he will be. Waiting for me. Ma’am.
Okay, it is not lost on me that he could not understand “I want to go to the market” but he could completely explain the market to me. Maybe I am just language retarded. Maybe falling out of a swing when I was little and hitting my head on cement really was something to be a wee bit more concerned about.
My teacher is coming back on Monday and you can be sure, my first lesson will be – I want to go to…….