X is for Xcuse Me! #BlogchatterAtoZ

I have been married into the Telugu community for over 8 years now, and I have got by with speaking only a single sentence of the language, ‘Telugu Matla Chaala Kashtam’ (speaking Telugu is very difficult)

4 and a half years of living in Bangalore and ‘Kannada Baralla’ (I don’t know Kannada) got me by. It helped that almost everyone, from my Garbage collectors to Auto Drivers spoke English and/or Hindi.

Chennai however is a tough nut. You need to know Tamil to survive here. More so if people assume you are a South Indian.

Confused? Let me elaborate.

Since as long as I can remember, I have been always told I, ‘look like a Bengali or a South Indian’ . No one believes me when I tell them I am a Punjaban. Ironically, my Telugu husband (just to make it clear, I have only one, and not one from each community) looks completely ‘Narth Indian’, a Punjabi to be precise.

Xcuse-Me-Sirimiri-Chennai
These days even my parents have a heard time believing I am a ‘Narth Indian’ :)))))

So when we go out together, to stores, theatres and the like, people immediately start talking to me in Tamil. No amount of confused expressions make them stop. An apologetic gesture towards the husband usually follows (‘Paavam (poor thing), he can’t understand a word, is what this gesture conveys) till he starts shooting off in Tamil. (The Husband speaks Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam. Yes, one husband, many languages. Just to make it clear)

If I had a rupee for each time I was advised, ‘You must learn Telugu/Kannada/Tamil’, well, I would have a lot of money.

Interestingly, I neither speak Punjabi or the Rajasthani dialect, which is my ‘Mother tongue’, so yes I do get grief from ‘that side of the family’ too. I am rusty now, but I used to speak fluent Marathi and Gujarati.

I do understand that one most learn the language of the state / country they live in. I intend to learn it too. I just don’t know when. I am a tad busy enjoying myself following the customs and traditions of each and learning to adapt to the culture and cuisines of them all.

I am hoping it is soon though, as it does get terribly lonely when I am the only one at gatherings and functions who is sitting by without understanding a single word of what is being said

So till I start learning one of the many languages I must, how about we speak in Hindi? 

Written for the theme

My A to Z of Chennai: The City Viewed Through An Outsiders Eye

AtoZ-Chennai-Sirimiri

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15 thoughts on “X is for Xcuse Me! #BlogchatterAtoZ

  1. Ha ha ha. I was grinning ear to ear while reading this post. Your husband does look like a North Indian and you have those sharp Bengali features. I survived for a decade in Karnataka with kannada gothilla, oota ayta, kutkori – 3 words precisely. My husband who stayed for barely 5 yrs can speak kannada in broken dialect because he loved interacting in the local language. For me, Hindi or English is sufficient to survive anywhere.

  2. Hey yaa I just realised you look a South Indian beauty and your husband undoubtedly a Punjabi Munda. How lovely is that but I agree with you that it is difficult to survive in TamilNadu without knowing Tamil. I learnt to speak it fluently and write as well when I was small. Now I remember only kunjam kunjam

  3. Mayuri, you’re the rare breed of absolutely Indian! Trust me if you lived in Punjab or Delhi, people would probably address you in Punjabi 🙂
    This post was so funny, just loved it!

  4. Hahaha! This made for such a fun read. Your husband certainly looks Punjabi. And you a South Indian and the reality is just the reverse for you!! Dont worry, after sitting with groups of people who only speak regional languages, you will be able pick more words and sentences 🙂

  5. Firstly, You pakka look Punjaban. And yes, learning the language of karma bhoomi is something that’s good to adapt. I was in Bangalore for a decade, and picked up a few words. In fact, learned more Malayalam words from my bestie. Now, I am in Mumbai, and got glued to Marathi. I want to learn this language for the love of it, not that I am supposed to or I should.
    At this age, after covering more than half ideal life limit, we pick the things that we like and not those we arw supposed to.
    Love the post M.

  6. Thanks for sharing those two lines I will make sure to cram before I come there now. 😀
    You have very Indian looks, M. Whether South-Indian or Punjabi one can guess from your dresses and saris. They’re just so gorgeous!
    Learning local dialect gives a feeling of belonging, guess that’s why I consciously learnt Marathi too.

  7. This is so hilarious, I have finally started understanding bangali and telugu from my multilingual husband. It gets funny when vegetable vendors negotiate in bangali with hubby and all of a sudden start conversing with me too in same language. Its gets funny all the time.

  8. ah, what a lovely post. Your humor quotient is at its best in this post. Loved reading it and while I am grinning, my kid is coming and asking me whats happening around here.

  9. I can do relate to this. Language becomes a big barrier when it comes to Chennai and I have observed even they know English seeing a tourist they behave in a funny manner.

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