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Travelblog: Once in a lifetime voyage to the heart of India.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

My big earrings

I wrote this entry weeks ago, but never posted it. I have modified and updated it in response to Raj’s request for an update on my language issue.

Three weeks ago, Vamil tai, the campus cook, grabbed my face after lunch and proceeds to say something. I gave her the same response I had been giving her day after day—“My face is the same size as the day I arrived, and I’m eating plenty. Don’t worry!” That would have been a great response if she was trying to tell me my face was shrinking, and I needed to eat more as I presumed. On this particular day, however, she had a different qualm. I came to find out with the help of Hemant Kaka who couldn’t stop laughing, that she was telling me she doesn’t like my earrings. She thought they were too big and wants me to wear smaller ones like the ones she has on. She must have really hated them, because she tried to make the point at least three times (I used to wear the same big hoops daily) and every day I thought she was commenting on my food intake, which she does quite frequently as well.

Vimal tai is this feisty, spunky little Marathi woman. Despite the fact that she doesn’t speak much Hindi and I don’t speak Marathi, we have many verbal exchanges. This incident left me wondering for weeks what exactly was being said during our interactions.

A few weeks after this incident we had we had some visitors from Hyderabad staying here for a week. Hyderabad is in the state of Andhra Pradesh, so the two gentlemen spoke only English and Hindi. They tried to ask Vimil Tai something related to the kitchen accounting in Hindi and were unable to get a satisfactory response. They were about to stop trying just as I walked in to get some water. They stopped me and requested I attempt to ask her since it appeared I had no trouble communicating with her. What the? Can you imagine my surprise? I asked her the question in Hindi, and was actually able to get an answer, and understand it.

I gage my progress in Marathi compression based on communication with Vimil tai, as she is one of the hardest persons for me to communicate with at Shodhgram. The length of our conversation has increased and we haven’t had any major blunders to report. In the field, Sanjay translates for me when I want to talk to anyone who doesn’t speak Hindi. With the interviews, Sanjay now only translates responses/answers when I ask. I have a long way to go, but I think that is progress.

Oh! I now wear smaller earring to appease the women who feeds my belly.

Tai—in Marathi means older sister
Kaka - Uncle


At 4:06 PM, Blogger Mansi Parikh said...

hey gargi! this was the first time i actually got a chance to read your entries and i thought they were really informative and very hilarious.. i especially liked the part where you didn't know what she was saying about your earrings. Let me know if you find out anything else funny like that from this Vimal tai of yours. You gave me and Mansi a good laugh! When are you leaving the village? And why have you not emailed me back? Hopefully we'll talk soon

lisa and mansi

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Gabs said...

gargs!!! that is hilarious! i'm so proud of you for getting over the initial hard hump and still trying with the language difficulties. you are amazing... acceptable earrings or not.

p.s. i love that she grabs your face. :)

love, gabs


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