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Do you have any language preference for your thoughts?
I mean to ask do you think in any specific language. Not un-usual, until a few years back I used to think in my mother tongue. There was a sudden change when I had to shift to Bhopal in search of a career. In order to adjust with the changed language environment I have had to change the language preferences for my thought process.

Then only I realised what difference it can make to you, thinking in your mother tongue and language that you have acquired. It was some kind of a jerk and my mind waves, thoughts often stumbled making me feel helpless. You search for your vocabulary for the perfect word and it comes up with a blank screen, forcing you to go mute in between conversations. The only option is to use a word that somehow resemble. You use that option. At times the one in conversation with you either feels offended or burst into laughter.

I have got the chance of becoming "a laughing stalk" numerous times so far. At times I open my mouth and there are many more open mouths (a roaring laughter!). Now I deliberately use the wrong combination of words to tickle friends.

For the past four years I have been struggling with my Hindi. When classmates and seniors tried to extract each and every ounce of amusement from my fractured Hindi, Ruchi and Brajendra decided to bear the pain of teaching me the right way. I got two teachers who would go to the extent of slapping or boxing my ears whenever I repeated mistakes. Thanks to their sweating, slowly my senses started recognizing the differences of the four different sounds of 'd', four different sounds of 't' and 's', 'sh', 'ch'...but I still confuse and mix-up everything.

The next hurdle in getting the head and tail of Hindi was my "gender sense" (you better read it my gender non-sense!). The language that hosted my thoughts for more than two decades does not recognize gender of non-living things. And sentence formations does not change depending on gender of subject or object, as it happens in Hindi. It took me lots of time to assimilate the different forms "vo bolta hai"("he talks") Vs "vo bolti hai" ("she talks") into my language system.

I still have thousands of questions regarding the gender classification of the non living beings. Why, one non living being is masculine while the other is feminine? Every time I faced a new noun I was at fuss. No reference to support my decision.

When ever I turned to my teachers whether XYZ is masculine or feminine, they would refer to a sentence from their store and on the basis of that they would declare the gender. In the reverse process, if I ask them formation of this sentence is 'this' or 'that'; they would refer to gender of the subject or object and declare the sentence structure. They have had a vast stock of sentences and conventional information that back up their gender quarries. But how will one like me decide gender of newer nouns?

At times irritated by my questions, Ruchi would say, "Yaar you ask a lot of questions. All most all the nouns that end with the sound 'ee' or 'e' are feminine." Than I would ask, "What about 'pani' (water, which according to Hindi grammer is masculine).

Once Brajendra came up with another convention,"everything that is big is masculine, and the petite ones are masculine. Like 'bus' is feminine and aero plane is masculine." He had to face the question "How big it should be so that you can call it masculine? What about a 'train'?"(According to Hindi grammar it's feminine). How can one not loose ones calm in front of questions like these?

Once Deepu suggested, everything that is fragile, delicate are feminine, like ankhe (eyes)..."What about Maan (mind!)?". At another point of irritation she proclaimed, "jo bhi achhi hai woh 'hoti' hai, jo acha nehi hai woh 'hota' hai" (those things that are good are feminine, and that are bad are masculine). I would ask what about 'dimag' (brain!).

Divya says,"Are mujhe woh sab maat pucho. I do not know why things are like that, I just know that they are."

Vikrant, another teacher of Hindi for me suggested, "Stop questioning grammar. Just accept it. Just like your heart, grammar knows no reason."

After this entire study, I realised; no matter how hard I try, I will have to remain 'An English man in New York'.


totaramkiaaatma said…
Ask me. My bong roomie drives me crazy. And my Hindi has completely got twisted. BTW any english word in a hindi conversation becomes feminine.Long time??
aklanta said…
So you already have had a bit of me...bravo...thanks for the new piece of convention, I shall try to add it to my data bank

Long time?
Yes, at a race, against time...
starry nights said…
Nice post, I used to have the same problem in school with my Hindi, I had no gender sense also. Now I have forgotten most of my hindi,But when I watch a hindi movie, it seems to come back.
adi said…
the problem is i can see both the sides concurrently... half of my present life is filled with bengalis, and then i try to learn bangla...
aklant, u ask me hindi q's, i'll ask u the bangla ones...right?
adi said…
thanks a ton for the reward

jac said…
All your teachers, no doubt, have a very good sense of humour.

Congrats to them.
divya said…
your thoughts are beautiful..the language doesn't matter
Mindinside said…
I have always felt at ease with English language since I learned it.
The tendency grew on with years .. now most times my thinking is in english.
I think mind must be feminine in any language:)
dwaipayan said…
come to ur blog after a long time..and this post steal my eyes..i know how it feels, earlier i used to think in bengali, my mother tongue.. but these days i generally think in englsih. and at times i'm at loss of words..but i know i can win over it.i'll

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