A year ago, India, it’s people, it’s culture, meant nothing to me, I didn’t care for it – it didn’t interest nor concern me. India, was a far away place that bore no relevance to me.
A year ago I don’t think I had ever really spoken to an Indian, and because of where I live had no exposure to Indian culture.
Then I met Babu.
My eyes were opened to this wonderful, exciting, world, culture, that before then I knew nothing of.
In the last year I have learnt a lot, since knowing Babu I have made it my business to learn about his world, so I thought I’d write a little about what I’ve learnt. By all means what I know now is still minimal but it is still a whole lot more than I knew before, and, a year on I am still at the beginning if a long and interesting journey, which soon will take me to India.
Language… Babu is from Orissa, so his mother tongue is Oriya. I would have loved to learn Oriya but learning materials are pretty hard to come by. And still, I only know how to speak one sentence in Oriya, but it is the only one that matters… ମୁ ତୁମକୁ ଭଲ ପାଏ (mu tumako bhala pae) – If you didn’t guess the means I love you. I have however started to learn a little Hindi, it is taking a while as I have so little time to do it but I know the odd bit and hope i will eventually have to time to dedicate to learning. Babu told me his second language is English and he learnt Hindi through watching films, so I try to watch a Bollywood film a week, at most I will pick up one word, or find a new Hindi song I like but i do need to remember that it was probably easier for him to pick up where it is similar to Oriya – I’m guessing? He has never asked me to learn his language, in fact when I told him that I wanted to learn he couldn’t understand why, “everyone speaks English in India” he said
to me, never the less I think it is important to know a little of the language of anywhere you visit, i consider it respectful. Above anything, I love learning languages, I learnt French all through school, took German as an additional subject and did a bit of Spanish at college so I relish the opportunity to learn another language!
Geography… Maps were never my strong point – I actually opted out from taking any of the “humanities” subjects – history, re, geography in lieu of learning German. So It’s an achievement for me that I can now locate India on the map, and on India show you where Mumbai, Delhi and Bhubaneswar are!
Religion… So as I have mentioned, I didn’t take RE either, religion didn’t interest me, I wouldn’t exactly say I’m an atheist, I just struggle to grasp religion, if anything it makes me feel a little uncomfortable, I’m one of these people who likes to work with fact, so I can’t really get how people can dedicate so much to something they have no proof of. However, I do respect and agree with a lot of the beliefs and morals religion can encourage, maybe one day it will be something that has more significance in my life, who knows.
I’m straying off subject anyhow. Babu is Hindu – do you say Hindu or a Hindu? I’m not sure. So I am learning new things about Hinduism, which was also another thing that was completely off of my radar. If you had mentioned Ganesh chaturthi a year ago i would have probably assumed it was some sort of curry! I now know the names of most of the gods and the customs around their worship, I just wish I had the time to learn a little more.
Babu’s religion is important to him, it is therefore important to me to make it my business. Another thing that hopefully one day – when my job no longer occupies my life to the degree it does right now, that i can explore a little further.
Relationships… I have never met anyone who family is so important to, and I get the impression this is a general thing in India. Babu is the only son, his dad is recently retired so as far as he is concerned their happiness is his utmost priority. Even though he is really far away from them he is stressing so much about his family and things that are maybe out of his control right now, like his sisters marriage, I tell him his parents will take care of it but as the son he voluntarily carries all of the responsibility on his shoulders. He has made sacrifices for his family that they may not even know about, he would sacrifice his happiness, or even his life for his family, something you may not be able to say for so many people these days.
Bollywood…I have already mentioned I’ve been watching Bollywood movies, in fact I am slowly exhausting lovefilm’s on-demand catalogue, at the moment I am working my way through Salaam-e-ishq, I say that because it is a whopping 3hr45 – It never fails to amaze me how long some of those films are, before experiencing Bollywood, the longest film I had ever see was titanic at 3hr15! I guess it’s all of those random dance scenes that pad them out – I do love how and song and dance can arise out of any situation though! Thanks to Bollywood my current favourite song is dildaara, i can say “youre mad” in Hindi and i know what ishq is.
And so, my trip to India grows nearer and nearer, it is planned for October, I will visit Deli, Agra from there, Mumbai, and I also hope to visit Babu’s parents for a couple of days near Bhubaneswar – a lot to squeeze into 2 weeks but Babu and I will be looking at a plan and we’ll work it out.
Tomorrow will be exactly a year from the moment that a cute waiter with a nice smile showed me to my seat, and I am so glad it was his table I was sat at that night, that lovely waiter has not only shown me so much love, but opened up my eyes to brand new world of culture that i was completely ignorant to.
In just over a week, Babu will be back from the Caribbean, then we can finally continue this exciting second year together.
Here’s to another year of Hindi speaking, bollywood dancing, curry cooking and head wobbling!
oh and you might have noticed the fetching picture at the top – yup – that’s us – hope it didn’t scare you too much!