A month into starting work in my home country, I realize that one of the travel grouses that I’ve dissed for the longest time indeed has a ton of truth to it, and can make or break a destination. I stand humbled, corrected, and very aware to it the next time around.
For years, I’ve heard those who travel or relocate talk about the ease of fitting in when one knows the local language and the exertions when one does not. “Pah”, I’ve thought, it can’t be THAT bad. Most of the world talks English, even if only a little bit, and that should be enough to get by.
India is a fascinatingly striated society and there is really no line between one strata and the next. This is exciting by itself, and as I studied their ways and methods, I learnt to use the little Hindi I remembered from school at different levels to get my work done. That I knew I was gonna face. What I hadn’t factored in was the section of people at work, who while perfectly fluent in English, made the choice to discuss work issues in Hindi. Circuit design terms which till date I knew only in English were being seamlessly translated and used with a proficiency that belied the nascent nature of this field here. Blimey, the India I used to know is not the India beyond my state’s border. While I love moments that reconcile home and away, this drastically different one is wild in its own twisted way!
After living in Bangalore and Tempe and Portland, where English was the default language at school and work, this one is an eye-opener. I beg the universe a pardon and trudge away to learn how to say “setup-time analysis” in Hindi. Wish me luck.