For the first time I was travelling long distance, out of Tamil Nadu. It was a long journey by train to New Delhi, to attend a training programme. And I don’t know Hindi. I had been of the opinion that since English is an universal language, I can manage without Hindi. But I was wrong.
I found it very difficult to order food. The caterer did not know English. I managed to ask him if he knew Tamil. Fortunately, he understood my question and answered in the negative. All that I had to say was that I did not want dinner. I avoided English because he did not know the universal language. I tried my luck with Hindi but in vain. Finally my co-passenger helped me out and did the translation.
The next time he came for taking orders, I knew it was going to be a tough time, if i do not ask for help. Somehow I managed to convey the message. At the end, the caterer murmured something in Hindi and left. I knew he was abusing me. My neighbour translated it for me … “if only this boy knew a bit of English…”
The icing on the cake is this fact: Another co-passenger was a Japanese girl. I tried to build a conversation with her. When asked why she was in India, she said that she was here to learn Hindi and was attending classes at Benaras. Now here is something I should take as a great lesson….