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August 11th, 2017

Sharing my 30+ year old Indian secret weapon…

Next week, on August 15, it will be 70 years since Indian Independence, but to be honest, I am a little surprised at the lack of buzz around this significant figure.

The papers yesterday featured a whole day that Parliament spent commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Quit India movement, which was the precursor to independence.

Worry not, I am not going to revisit history.  No need.  I’ll leave that to the pundits.

Rather, instead of wondering why our esteemed government is taking a decidedly low-key approach to what is, after all, a 70th birthday party, I’ll do a little canter down my own memory lane.

On my first visit to India in the early 80s, on business, I bought a pocket Hindi phrase book.

Like so:

Amazingly, all these years later (winces as she realises just HOW many…) I still have this book.

How on earth it has survived our moves to Paris, Mumbai, Jo’burg, Mauritius and all points north I have no idea, but the little thing, a tad battered, is still with me.

Now before anyone misunderstands me, let me hasten to add that I have NEVER used 99.99% of the book, for as soon as I realised – on day 1 in Bombay as it then was – that there was, excitingly, a new script to be learned, I bought myself other books, and concentrated on learning to read and write Hindi, and so this phonetic book didn’t get much use.

BUT.

It always gave me great joy, because it was a window into an India I never saw.

Ever.

Not once.

(You’ll see what I mean in a mo…)
Foreword by the esteemed PM Jawarharlal Nehru himself, no less:

And, opening this little gem at random, look what I find:And just in case you think we’re talking about taking a photo of a tiger…

NOW do you understand why I said I never found a use for 99.99% of the helpful Hindi phrases?!

Can you believe it, but in all my years of loving and living India, I have never found the need to say “Bun-dook key nah-lee doos-ree ta-ruff karo.”

So, yes, with a Prime Ministerial foreword and a host of useful words (“doos-ree ta-ruff” indeed 😛 ) this book has made me smile over the years.

And I’m going to share the dottiness with you over the next few days.

My very own “ta-ruff” of marking the big anniversary next week.

1 comment to Sharing my 30+ year old Indian secret weapon…

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