Sunday, February 20, 2005

Ah...Eee... I... Oh... Ung

I'm taking Hindi lessons. I'm fed up with speaking in broken English to make myself understood, and quite excited to butcher a whole new language.

I realized something had to change last Friday night, when I was sitting around a campfire in the desert after dinner. We were watching gypsies dance and I was speaking like one.

I turned to my friend Sarah, pointed over to a silver urn and asked, "hot water, hands, for clean, yah?" She looked at me for a minute, then said "did you just hear yourself?" She and Jessica were in hysterics for five minutes.

We were in Jaiselemer, an ancient fort town in the middle of the Thar Desert, for less than 48 hours. Unhappily, we just missed the start of their much-touted Desert Festival--camel racing, mustache twirling, fire breathing, oh my! Sarah stayed on to see the festivities. She returned to Jodhpur with sunstroke, babbling about all the midgets, Eunichs and men in peacoat feathers she met hanging with the gypsies.

I returned to attend Veerni's monthly meeting, in which a staffer gave lectures and demonstrations on infertility. This was mainly to prove that it's not necessarily the ladies' fault if no baby's coming in 9 months. All 30 of us at the meeting threw rocks in a bucket to show the odds of getting pregnant. The staffer declared that only 5 of our "worms" (the Hindi word) had made it. The no-nonsense Major interrupted and corrected her, "that would be sperm." Luckily, the meeting was translated for me by Veerni's new medical volunteer, Nisha, a doctor who is an NRI (Non Resident Indian) from Wales.

But all the funny bits lose something in retelling. And I'm always missing out on the raunchy jokes the female staffers tell in the van on the way to the villages. So Jess and I have hired a meditation yogi/Economics professor/English tutor to give us Hindi 101 in our guest house. Today was our first session. He told us, finally, how to tell these crazy rickshaw drivers that we know the correct fare and it's not 50 rupees and NO, GO STRAIGHT!

Mera sida challow... To sleep...


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