Hindi – a fascinating language
Benny (or call him Abu Brian) is very interesting desert friend. He left Riyadh to pursue other career when his newly born son Brian was not keep good in Riyadh. Brian was comfortable in India. Hence Benny left Riyadh for good. He tried his luck in business and other careers. Then later he decided to learn SAP and become consultant. Now he is in United States (out of touch from me and most of other Desert Friends).
He wrote this article from India for publishing under his column "Udham Singh Column" in The Desert Friends", issue dated February 1999. Hope you enjoy this.
By Abu Brian
I started learning Hindi as my second language from 3rd start onwards. Right from the beginning Hindi evoked a special interest in me especially the line which is drawn on the top of every Hindi alphabet. At many a times our national language has confused me as follows:
While in the process of learning the meanings of Hindi words, the word UMAR (meaning: age) came across. As far as I am concerned I knew only one Ummer that is Ummer Koya the tea shop man around the corner of our street.
Next one was chor (meaning: thief). But for me it was rice (chor in Malayalam means rice). I used to wonder why these Hindi pundits have given nice words like these for the person who is a thief.
Quite often the word Banana (mean: do) comes while talking in Hindi. But if you analyse the sentence it is in no way related with that of the Banana, which we eat. Once our Hindi teacher told a student “thumare kalam utaker likh!” The boy answered the teacher “to get the kalam (pot in Malayalam) I have to go to my house”.
The Hindi grammar was the most difficult to understand. For example:
Ladki, Ladka (girl, boy)
Sali, sala (sister-in-law, brother-in-law)
Kuthi, Kutha (bitch, dog)
But when it comes to PADOZI, PADOZAN (neighbour male, female) it is all ulta pulta (upside down).
The statutory warning “cigarette smoking is injurious to health” I can understand but “cigarette peena (peena means drink) mana hai!” something is wrong with this sentence. How could you drink a cigarette?
Actually the warning should have been “sharab peena mana hai” (do not drink alcohol). Likewise even the Arabs are confused with Hindi. Nam which is YES for Arabs is name for Hindiites. I often used to wonder that Hindi is not only creating confusion for me and Arabs but also between Sardarji’s and Tamilians as you could see from the conversation between the two:
Tamilian: Tamil theriuma (the meaning in Tamil is: do you know Tamil?; if said in Hindi it means: Tamil is your mother!)
Sardarji: Tamil merima ha tho Hindi thera baap! (meaning in Hindi: if Tamil is my mother, then Hindi is your father!)
As the years passed by I realized in the later stage of my high school education that even though I could read, write and understand Hindi to a certain extent. I could not even write Malayalam so I switched over to Malayalam, which is another short story. By the time I reached Riyadh I had totally forgotten Hindi which I had learned.
At this time I had some nice Bombay friends who started conversing with me in Hindi. It was like fill up the blanks for me. Most of the time I used to give them a nice smile (even if they gave me gaali) in response, because my Hindi station has not clicked.
Once during conversation Aarshiya Zahid was telling “Bombay me bahut karcha ha na”! Actually this word “Karcha” (meaning expenditure) – and “Kachra” (waste in Malayalam) was new to me. My flat mate in Riyadh was Shetty and once again my standard of Hindi developed I presumed. Only a little later I realized that instead of good, poetic Hindi words I have mastered all the slang and bad words in Hindi.
How many languages you know?
Quite a number of times I used to find difficulty to understand words which were told by Zahid, Afsar, Fozail etc. At this point my wife with five languages i.e. English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada in hand came to my help. What I used to do was that I’ll memorize those difficult words and ask her the meaning. But many a times she also used to sit point blank. Then we realized that they are not talking Hindi, they were talking Urdu baba Urdu. Then I started concentrating on learning the poetic language Urdu and almost succeeded. That’s the reason why Siddique gave the farewell speech for me in Urdu. Also my debut shehr “chak jigar ke see le the” was a hit. Seeing this piece of eminence, Jagjit Singh made it an album. So one thing I was sure at this point “if there is a will there is a way.” With this faith I bid good bye to Riyadh and by the grace of God the almighty everything is going on fine over here in India and I hope it will pave the way for my bright future.
Allah Kareem! Ameen!!