When a German spoke in Hindi
It was a regular Monday morning and I boarded the Metro with my friends Pratiksha and Priya to go to the office. Our destination was around 8 stops away and we sat next to a woman. We were talking in Hindi and little did we know that the woman who was a German spoke Hindi as well.
Five minutes later, the woman says, “Main aapko thoda samajh sakti hun (I can understand a bit of what you all are saying)”
The three of us were stunned; and were in complete disbelief. I am not undermining the fact that a foreigner cannot learn an Indian language but in a distant land when you are struggling to speak the local language, and a localite speaks the local language of your country, it does feel surprising.
Pratiksha asked, “Aapne Hindi kahaan se seekhi? (Where did you learn Hindi from?)”
She answered, “Maine yahaan Vishwa Vidyalay se aur India mein reh kar seekhi (I learnt it from Vishwa Vidyalay here and when I was in India)”
We asked her, “India mein kahaan gayi aap? (Which part of India did you visit?)”
She replied, “Main India paanch baar gayi. Main Punjab, Rajasthan aur Gujarat gayi. Aap sab kahaan se hain? (I have been to India 5 times. I visited Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Where are you all from?)”
Pratiksha said Delhi, Priya said Delhi and I said Chennai.
She said, “Chennai mein Tamil ya Telugu boli jaati hai na? Humare Vishwa Vidyalay mein Tamil, Telugu aur Urdu bhi sikhate hain. (In Chennai, Tamil or Telugu is spoken right? The Vishwa Vidyalay also teaches Tamil, Telugu and Urdu)”
I clarified, “Chennai mein log Tamil mein baat karte hain (People in Chennai speak Tamil)”
She asked us with a smile, “Kya meri Hindi acchi hai? (Is my Hindi good?)”
Pratiksha, with a cheerful smile, responded saying, “Bohot acchi hai! (It is really very good!)”
She said, “Main tees saal se seekh rahi hun. Ab aap baat kijiye, main disturb nahi karungi (I am learning for the last 30 years. Now you carry on, I shall not disturb you any longer)”
We were excited and, in unison, said, “Nahi nahi, aap baat kar sakte hain (No no, you can talk)”
Two stops later, she got up from her seat, joined her hands, and said, “Main chalti hun. Namastey! Ram Ram! (I am taking a leave. Greetings! Ram Ram!)”
We were grinning even after she left. And why shouldn’t we? Here we are in Germany struggling to speak German, and here there is a woman who has mastered our language by speaking it for nearly 30 years. And when you stay away from your country, small small things like these gives you immense joy and makes your day.
Like people in India say, “Chhoti chhoti khushiyan! (Little bundles of happiness!)”