Monday, August 23, 2010

Slowly Learning Hindi - Update #2

On the way to the office this morning, I received one of the more thoughtful gifts in some time that didn't involve multiple flavors of Crystal Light from a very surprising source. My trusty driver Kailesh, whose English courses the wife decided we'd help subsidize (she's far more charitable than myself), slowed the car and reached to the passenger seat, producing a small Hindi-English phrasebook. Initially, I thought he was just showing me a book he had purchased as part of his course, but it quickly became obvious that the book was a "thank you" for the support and intended to aid the painfully flat learning curve associated with my Hindi skills.

More important than the gift (though it was much needed and even more appreciated), was the absolute joy Kailesh expressed when offering it. He stopped the car and quickly opened the book, picked a page, and read: "English word, 'My name is Robert, I have a  reservation here'; Hindi word, 'mera nam Robert hai, yaham mere nam se kamra araksit hai.' Now your turn!" After I struggled through the translation a time or two (and yes, I absolutely had to go back to the book to get the Hindi translation), he seemed content with my progress and drove the final way to work.

As an expat, there are ups and there are downs. Admittedly, it's much more fun to write about the good and, in India, the quirky and frustrating. It's also more difficult and admittedly rare to express what can sometimes be considered the outright bad,. But it's moments like the drive to work this morning that help on those difficult days and help make this entire experience worthwhile.

Kailesh, ap gari accha chala chelo.

(Hopefully, that's a real sentence.)

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