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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adventures in Hindi

So it’s been two weeks since we started Hindi and I am still loving it. I hope I don’t jinx us by saying that but so far it’s pretty awesome. That is not to say that it’s easy or that I am doing all that well. I just enjoy it. I’ve always loved languages and it is very reminiscent of the way I learned English in Bulgaria as a teenager.

Our Hindi teachers are really nice and the other students in the group are very cool too. We have 4 to 5 hours of instruction and drills in Hindi every day and then language lab time in the afternoon. But class is more than just learning Hindi because we often talk about Indian culture. We spent some time talking about big fat Indian weddings and Bollywood movies/music last week, for example.

We are finding out that they weren’t kidding when they told us to expect to gain 10 lbs each in Hindi training. At the end of our first week of Hindi the students who are learning Hindi at FSI ahead of us had an Indian feast for us. They had made/bought a bunch of  Indian treats to welcome us to Hindi – so sweet. Then last week we celebrated the birthday of one of the students in the earlier group and the engagement of another with cake and ice cream respectively. So, oy do I need to exercise!

We are making progress with Hindi for sure, though it may be in fits and starts sometimes. We know almost all the letters of the Hindi alphabet (yay) and are starting to read. We can now hold very basic conversations and d0 s0 multiple times each day. We also spend hours and hours doing various drills. There are a bunch of sounds in Hindi that do not exist in English or Bulgarian, so it’s been hard getting my ears to differentiate them and my tongue to pronounce them correctly. Some things make no sense. For instance, there is one word for yesterday and tomorrow in Hindi. That totally baffled me at first but our teacher said it was completely logical because you would know what the speaker was referring to based on the tense they use. I guess I have to trust her on that one for now.

The word order is different than in English or Bulgarian and they use postpositions instead of prepositions in Hindi, so instead of saying “I am from America.” you say “I America from am.” That takes some getting used to but hopefully with time it will become second nature. Hopefully!!!

So, I totally feel like a kindergartener but that’s OK because some of the constructions are starting to make sense and I am slowly starting to read the beautiful filigree that is Hindi, which is such a wonderful feeling. And get this, I can now write my own name in Hindi!

It looks like this:

डानिएला

How cool is that! I even installed the Hindi keyboard on my computer. Finding each character takes me forever but who cares - I can type in Hindi, sorta, kinda, almost!

Being in Hindi class each day has made us even more excited about moving to India. We have been watching Indian movies, listening to Indian music, eating Indian food, talking about India non-stop in class and outside, so no wonder we can’t wait. We got the New Delhi Embassy newsletter last week and they had announcements for trips for embassy people to Rajastan for the camel festival there and to the Taj Mahal (which I now know means Crown Palace!). It’s a bummer that we have to wait at least 8 months before we can see those places. 

Taj MahalSource

I just can’t wait to get my own sari, decorate my hands with henna, take the trip to the Taj Mahal and experience all that India has to offer. I am also a little nervous because India is very much an in-your-face type of place with overcrowding, insane traffic, pollution and crushing poverty but hopefully we’ll learn to handle all that somehow. Everyone says that you either love it or you hate it. I hope it’s the former for us.

Speaking of the Taj Mahal, I recently read this article about it in the Smithsonian magazine. It’s a serious piece about the damage the amazing sight has sustained through the years but there are some neat pictures, videos and graphics that go with it too and I never tire of looking at pictures of the Taj. Thought you might enjoy them too.

3 comments:

  1. how great that you are enjoying yourself so much! Hindi is a language I would love to learn. Just be patient w yourself!

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  2. I am so thrilled - and you know I mean it! - that you are enjoying the classes and making progress. Keep the updates coming.

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  3. and when you get here, you can get a VERY cool silver bracelet that has your name in hindi! they are beautiful! i'll "hook you up" !!

    My experience has been that in one moment I love it, and in the next, I hate it. It is like a really bad boyfriend ... you can't leave, you keep coming back and you love it with every piece of your being!

    Look into Humayun's Tomb. It may rival your love for the Taj and is right here in Delhi!

    I digress -- GOOD for you for learning Hindi!!!

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