I am a South Indian with very less exposure to Hindi (I was forced to take Hindi as an elective during my 3rd year in Undergraduate (YES! :/) and am still clueless how I ended up with a C (I was expecting an F :P)). So, you can imagine my state when I got an admit into IIM Indore! I had months to pick up on Hindi before stepping into Madhya Pradesh for the first time, but as usual, I was like Blah and spent time catching up with family, and here is why. Almost 2 years now and still I manage to shameless say “ Sir, Hindi nehi maalum.. English se please explain kardeejiye..” (Hey I am proud I have come this far!) Anyway, here is how I am still surviving happily :D The main goal of this article is basic survival tricks, and here is how:
- Memorise the few important phrases: By the second year in your campus, you will probably know the kind of phrases that you will need the most. I mainly needed to know how to tell people that I do not get Hindi, if I needed the housekeeping lady to sweep better or to skip my room for that day, how much something costs or bargain for a cheaper price, how to call for a cab driver, ask for more onion and meetha chutney for my pani puri.. and basically yes. That was all I needed and till now those few phrases are all that I am requiring till today :P
- When your friend is your personal translator: What is fancier than having your very own private translator you could get the job done for you? So, I have two besties with whom I always hang out and they are my voice whenever I have to talk to someone over the phone in Hindi and basically function as my personal translator and voice. In fact, these guys are the ones who pamper you into not having to learn that language as well
- Never be shy to say you do not know that language: Often, you will end up being the only one in a group not knowing that language. Being the minority, you will be ignored and shy away from saying you do not know the language, even 10 times. The next time automatically, people around you will automatically converse in English. Thug life, isn’t it? :P
- Be more expressive with actions: They say when one of your senses are down, the others become stronger! :P well, that will be proved right. Most of the times show actions to get things done. Like from asking for change to giving directions to cab drivers to doing a bargain…your body just does the talking.
Well that is how I am surviving till date. But let us be serious, a few ways to actually learn the new language can be done by 3 ways (I am suggesting, yet I have refrained from doing so till now. God knows why!) (1) Watch that language movies with subtitles (2) Use those mobile Apps (3) Just be around guys who converse that language and do not hesitate to start conversing with them, no matter how much they roll laughing!
But, I have to mention how fun it is to hang out with guys in the same boat as you and you end up making a huge fool out of yourselves and confuse the localities! So many funny and crazy moments that you can cherish. For instance, I ended up with two cabs instead of 1 cab one early morning which pissed out the cab driver (yes! it was funny ..because till date I do not know how I managed to do that :P ) and the numerous times all my friends die out of laughter listening to me trying to talk in Hindi. If a person like me can survive, you can too
A VERY SERIOUS NOTE: This article is not to shun you away from learning a new regional language. But I get it, we are all old now and learning a new language will be tough, so it is fine and you need not feel dumb/bad if someone says “2 years in that state and you still do not know their language?!”. Just tell them "Knowing the language and acing in that state is easy, but rocking despite not knowing the language? That is quite something! "