While I am currently spending a few months at home, I wouldn’t really consider this downtime. In addition to working my freelancing butt off, I’m starting to prepare for my next big adventure. The U.S. and Canada are full of potential for me, and India is on the list for late in the year. So my current travel-esque activity is learning Hindi.
While India’s constitution recognizes 23 languages, English and Hindi are most widely spoken in the country. I’m well over the commonly held belief that “everyone” speaks English. My 2011 experience taught me that’s a bunch of crap, and sometimes when you most need someone who speaks your language, you can’t find anyone.
Last year, I learned a good bit of French, a little bit of Turkish and about 10 phrases of a combination of Bulgarian and Macedonian, which are very similar. This year, I’m starting early and will take on what seems a little impossible. I can’t fool myself into thinking I can learn all 23 languages in India (and am not even going to attempt to learn all 15 that are in my Lonely Planet India phrasebook), but to know a bit of Hindi will make me more confident going into the journey.
Learning Bulgarian/Macedonian was especially difficult because they use the Cyrillic alphabet. Cyrillic at least uses characters similar to Latin characters, though. Hindi’s alphabet is called Devnagari, and its characters are more like symbols than letters–closer to characters used in the Arabic languages than in English.
I’m taking advantage of a free language-learning program through my library, and a friend is taking on the challenge, too, so I have both educational and moral support. So far, so slow, but I can now say hello and goodbye and make small talk about the weather. I am most looking forward to learning how to order food so my friend and I can practice our Hindi over some naan and shrimp rogan josh at one of Lexington’s great Indian restaurants!