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Tower Of Babel

July 22, 2009

I am back after a forced lay-off. I have been away for a while in a country where blogging sites are not accessible. I couldn’t upload any blogs.

The paranoia is a result of numerous blogs that came out of this place highlighting the uprising a year and a half ago . We can get the internet cafes to patch you through alternate servers if you are able to communicate properly.I think it is Lee Iacocca who said “Talk to people in their own language. If you do it well, they’ll say, ‘God, he said exactly what I was thinking.’ And when they begin to respect you, they’ll follow you to the death”. I am half way there and I am sure they will follow me half way to my grave. Unfortunately my knowledge of the local language is still restricted to exchanging niceties.

Communication has been a problem. It takes a lot of effort to find the information you are looking for. If you ask for somebody’s name, they might answer they are doing good, thank you. There is no reason to lose heart. The trick is to ask the question for which you have just received the answer till you get the reply for the initial question. Then all you have to do is rearrange the queries and the answers you got and voilá you have the complete intelligence about the person. Sometimes you will hit pay dirt and will need to ask fewer than 10 questions, but most times it will take longer than that. Though we share national borders, the problem is the difference in which we speak the language. While they speak with a nasal twang, I tend to bite, chew and spit out the words.

It is same difference between the way the French and German speak their mother-tongue (or is it the father-tongue in case of the Germans). Consider the German auf Wie·der·seh·en (till we meet again), Ich Liebe Dich (I love you) or Zungenbrecher (tongue twister or tongue breaker literally). The Germans take pride in pronouncing each and every consonant and vowel that is written. Now to the French Au revoir (till we meet again pronounced ‘au va’), Avez vous compris? (Do you understand –pronounced ‘away voo compri’) or the classic RSVP we find on invitations which is short for Repondez S’il vous plait (Please answer/reply which is said as ‘reponde sil voo play‘. The French conveniently leave out a few consonant or a vowel here and there. Either they are plain lazy or they conserve their energy for more amorous activities. It is for nothing they are ranked among the top lovers in the world.

Back in office, my colleagues ask me how my tour went. It was a huge success. The hotels where I stayed didn’t get bombed by terrorists, the planes I travelled by landed in 6 airports, without once crashing into the ocean and I reached home without contracting the H1N1 virus. Could you ask for anything better?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Salil permalink
    July 27, 2009 08:59

    Good luck with your efforts to communicate.
    Have you heard of Dumb Charades? It works when everything else fails.

  2. Dhiman permalink
    July 27, 2009 20:54

    Great that you made it through the tour unscathed … and I agree that Dumb Charades in times like these are very helpful….

  3. Govind permalink
    July 31, 2009 23:03

    Salil @ Dumb charades must not be a difficult thing for a dummo like me.
    Dhiman @ Thanks mate

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