Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hindi Lesson 2: Buy The Book You Already Own

Here's a dialogue between Pratap and his Hindi teacher, Mr. Sarma.

For those of us following the story, this is the teacher he flew all the way to Delhi to visit. Because, y'know, there aren't any Hindi teachers anywhere else.

Is Pratap's teacher any good? Let's find out:

प्रताप: अध्यापक जी, याहा कितने विद्यार्था है?
सरमा जी: अभी चौदह है -- नौ लार्किया और पीएसी लार्के।
प्रताप: यह "टिक यौर्सेल्फ़ हिंदी" कैसी किताब है? क्या यह अच्छी है?
सरमा जी: ह, बुरी नही है। लेकिन सस्ती नही है, काफी महागी है।
प्रताप: क्या ये सब्द्कोस भी महज है?
सरमा जी: नही, बिल्कुल नही। बहुत सस्ते है।
प्रताप: और व मोती किताब क्या है? क्या व बी सब्द्कोस है?
सरमा जी: नही नही, व सब्द्कोस नही है, रामायण है!


Pratap: Teacher, how many students are here?
Sarma ji: There are fourteen now -- nine girls and five boys.
(Pratap's eyes light up; the odds are in his favor! Of course, he's going to pursue Sangeeta regardless, because she's the girl in the story who's been given a name.)
Pratap: What kind of book is this "Teach Yourself Hindi?" Is it good?
Sarma ji: Yes, it's not bad. But it's not cheap, it's quite expensive.
(Does this mean that Pratap has come this far without even purchasing his textbook? Does he know that he flew to India to study from a book that's available at any Borders or Barnes and Noble? Do the book's authors think that shamelessly advertising for a book that the reader presumably already owns is a good idea? And calling it "expensive?")
Pratap: Are these dictionaries also expensive?
Sarma ji: No, not quite. They're very cheap.
(Well, that's a relief.)
Pratap: And what's this fat book? Is it a dictionary also?
Sarma ji: No, no. It's not a dictionary, it's the Ramayan!
(And it's not fat, it's big-boned!)

This chapter's lesson seems to be about comparing things -- numbers and sizes and so on. The trick seems to be to get the vocabulary to stick in my head after I'm through reading it, though.

But you just wait until the next lesson... the one about the lovely Sangeeta. I've peeked ahead and -- well, to put it bluntly -- it sets feminism back. Way back.

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