“Rian, the le*@#&... and *&#&$~%”
“What did you say Mom?”
“I said ……. …….. ………. “
*Sigh* “Mom, I can’t understand, that’s why I wanted you to text me!”
“But, son you know I can’t text!”
And she was right; texting is not her strongest point. Once, she send me a 4 words sentence and it took her over 35 minutes to put it together in text, and to figure out how to send it to me. After sending it, she was overwhelmed and tired.
As you can see above, I grew up facing a lot of communication barriers. It’s tough and this miserable feeling always overcomes me but I have learned to bear it. She is my dear mother and I love her dearly. 61 years of life wasn’t easy on her eyes and fingers and these nowadays technologies and features on the cell phones aren’t too kind to her either.
One night I had cold, and I went to the store to get some HALLS cough drops or sweets for cold.
“Do you have HALLS? Or candies for cold?”
The shopkeeper was tilting his head sideway, trying to figure what those words mean.
“Halls, for cold” I coughed, rubbed and pointed at my throat and nose… “I have cold… COLD.”
“You want cold medicine?”
“NO, NO, NO… Sweets… Candy!”
They had no idea what that was and kept bringing me tablets and cold medicines. After a long 20 minutes, they eventually gave up and just let me look about the store to find what I wanted. I was stubborn, and kept asking until one of the guy said “OHHH!” and he finally found me some sweets for cold. Could it be the accent, why we didn't understand each other? My Jamaican accent – heavy, slow and deep might be a problem for them to understand and also their Indian accent – rapid, very rhythmic, going up and down is too complicated for my deaf ears or eyes to read. They also pronounce their R differently making it hard to understand. It is important to know though that some things we knew in English have different names in
There are hundreds of different languages in
Most places in Mumbai have signs in English, Hindi and Marathi (the most used language in Mumbai). Someone told me, he asked a rickshaw’s driver if he knows English and the driver replied “If I know English I wouldn't be driving a rickshaw!” English is the dominant language worldwide, so you get the feeling that if you know English you have more chances of finding a better job in
But why doesn’t the rickshaw driver learn English, if he wanted a better job? It costs money and it’s not easy to learn. They might know a word or two though. I always worried how I would get around since I do not know Hindi or Marathi. Whenever I am going to meet a friend, they always tell me to tell the rickshaw driver to drop me certain places but how do a deaf guy like me tell them where I want to go? I always ask someone to write down the name of the place in Hindi or Marathi for me but still it doesn’t always work.
During rush hours, when so many people are rushing to get to work, they usually chase after the rickshaws, yelling the name of the places they wants to go and the rickshaw driver without looking would tell them to hop in. I tried my best, chasing them down showing them the piece of paper with the name of the place in Hindi and Marathi, but it takes the rickshaw driver a while to read it and someone else always get in before me. A friend told me to just pronounce the name of the place and they will read your lips, “Just say
It was getting late for work and I did not have much time so I put some more energy into it.
“HEYYY ARORAA!! Take me TO ARORAAA!!” Grabbing the rickshaw and putting my mouth right into the face of the drivers, hoping they would read my lips clearly this time. But, still I had no luck. I gave up and take a cab, which sometimes is more expensive.
There is a fruit vendor, a man probably in his 60s that I buy grapes or apples from and he is so cool and smart. A problem solver, I would say. He doesn’t speak any English at all but he was very patience with me, pointing and gesturing. Of course, it frustrated him at times, but after all, he is making money from me so why not? Each time, I came by, he would clasped his hands and throw it up to the sky as if thanking Ganesh that I came.
He somehow found a solution. One day he saw me coming and he looked around. He pointed at a guy, called him and started talking in a language other than English. The guy went to stand beside him and waited until I got closer. The vendor spoke to the guy and he translated “He said what you are buying today?” I was like wow, he just found himself an interpreter; just like that! So whenever he saw me coming, he randomly picked out someone passing by who he felt knows English.
So yeah, if you are stuck, find someone who knows English and let them translate or write it down for you.
The different Languages: http://www.webindia123.com/india/people/language.htm