Thursday, October 31, 2013

Diaries Downunder - Part 2!!!

Okay. It has been a week now. I am past that stage when glitters of arrivals in a new world take control of rational mind. If it does not happen in one week, it may never happen.
I think I am in a position to look at this aspect of life with a more rational mind and more critically. It does not mean that whatever I think is right but that does not stop me from thinking as well, isn’t it?
Let me chart out the positives first. Ever since I have landed in Melbourne, I have been extremely impressed with the cosmopolitan nature of the city. Just a stroll across the road and one can see people from number of ethnicities. More than that, nobody raises eyebrows if they see people who do not belong to their own ethnic background.
One happy society this is.
Not only that, I have seen all such kind of people I had seen only in movies until now.


A Denzel Washington lookalike woman with hairstyle of Rudd Gullet, check.
A chic walking in such short minis that her derrieres start looking for some breathing space, check.
A dude, with perfect athletic body, jogging with his iPhone in his ears, check.
A woman so fat that her assets looked to be heavier than yours truly, the kind you see and name “Big Martha” from Sidney Sheldon’s “If Tomorrow Comes” comes to mind, check.
A hot chic with blue eyes, hair died in blue and skimpy cloths, check.
An Indian lady wearing a mini skirt but still making efforts to hide her exposed lower body, check.
A couple displaying PDA with others not giving a damn to them, check.

Put SRK with a guitar in his hands and song “Mitwaaa” in the background, and one can easily believe it to be a KJO movie.
But then, everything has a downside.
For me, downside comes in form of problems in communication. I can barely read, write, understand or speak in English. Even when I speak, it is in thick rustic accent. On the other hand, cosmopolitan nature of the city means one has to deal with different accents. All of them sound poles apart to me and I am equally hopeless in understanding any of them.
My problems with accents had started even before I had landed in Australia. It started in my flight.
Singapore Airlines pride itself in providing excellent in-flight entertainment. They have equipment, attached at the back of every seat, which look like TV with a wired remote. Three times, I had pushed all the buttons on remote for in-flight TV of my desk because the TV, or whatever that equipment is called, was not working for me. In all those three times, I had pressed the button to call the airhostess. The airhostess, a Singaporean, came running to me all the three times. All the three times she asked me something which I could not understand so what I did was smile. All the three times she smiled back at me. We kept smiling at each other for at least half a minute, all the three times. It must have been only occasion of my life when I smiled looking at a woman thrice in a single night and the woman responded back. Luckily, I had an Australian travelling with me and he helped me out all the three times. When I did it third time, he explained to me the function of every button on the remote. I did not make the mistake fourth time because by the time third mistake of my flight happened, I had almost reached my destination.
The problem has only accentuated ever since I have landed here but I am picking up slowly.
You know which accent I have found most difficult to understand until now. It is not Australian, Chinese (visited a Chinese restaurant last night) or any other. It is the accent owned by Indians born & brought up in Australia or Indians who try putting up Australian accent.
I keep visiting an Indian store for grocery. It is owned by a Sardarji. First time I visited the store and saw him, I was brimmed by happiness. Fewer things give you more pleasure on a foreign land than a chance to converse in your mother tongue.
I asked him, “UncleJi, Jam hoga aapki dukaan pe?”  (Dear uncle, would you have jam at your shop?)
“Whaaaaaaaaaat” it was the biggest what I had heard in my life. I felt as if I was a goat and he saw me talking.
I went mum. I translated what I had to ask him from Hindi to English and asked back “Uncle, jam, sweet, over bread, breakfast, you know, you have”. Just to make sure he understood properly, I acted my words too.
He did not take any chances. He took me to the place he had kept bottles of jam, showed it to me, indicated with his hands “five dollars”, took a ten-dollar note from me, handed back the bottle of jam & change to me and said with a smile “Bye”.
Another evening, I visited his shop and saw a young man with Mohawk hairdo sitting on the counter.
I asked him, “Where do I find butter?”
In next ten minutes, we got chances to do four different rounds of dialogues between each other. Problem was that no matter what he said, all I could hear was “Yo mate. How ya doin’ mate? Something something…..Cheers mate”. I am sure he would not have understood me that well either.
He pointed me to a corner, “Yo mate. How ya doin’ mate? Something something…..Cheers mate”
I went to that corner and picked up something which looked like a pack of butter. The problem was that nowhere on the entire pack, I could read anything written as “butter”.
Therefore, I went back to that person and asked, “Is it butter?”
He reply sounded to me like, “Yo mate. How ya doin’ mate? Something something…..Cheers mate”
I asked back, “Is it butter”
Deja-vu struck, “Yo mate. How ya doin’ mate? Something something…..Cheers mate”
I did not give up, “That’s fine. But is it butter?”
“Yo mate. How ya doin’ mate? Something something…..Cheers mate”
“Is it butter? Yes or no?” I was losing my patience.
““Yo mate. How ya doin’ mate? Something something. Yes. Something Something….But it is not butter…..Cheers mate”
All I could understand was that he did say a “Yes”. I paid for it and came back.
When I tried to put it on bread next morning, it turned out to be cheese.
I hate cheese.
There have been a few more incidents like this with me. Once, while trying to find an address, I was told by a cop “Sir, you cannot go there”
I replied, “I don’t want to go there”.
After three repetitions of above two dialogues between us, he finally asked, “Where do you want to go?”
“700, Bourke Street. You know?”
“I don’t know where the hell that is but you cannot go there” and he pointed across the street.
I simply changed my way and crossed the street from other side of the road.
Anyways, I am trying to put up a fight by learning my ways out of this language trouble. But, you know what gives the most painful heartbreak in such cases? It is when you are going somewhere and see someone looking like an Indian blocking your way. You fill up with hope of getting a chance to converse in the language you are most comfortable conversing in.
You put up a typical Indian accent and say with a smile while looking into his eyes with hope in your heart “Excuse me?”
He responds back in a thick Australian accent saying, “Sorry mate. Carry on”
Deep down somewhere in your heart, someone shouts, “Sala, yeh bhi hindi nahi bolega ab” (Damn, even he won’t speak in Hindi”
I have had a few and learning to deal with them.

TBC…

1 comment:

Ruminating Optimist said...

Oh yes, issues with accent. How about you trying to say water, and the air hostess giving you vodka. Becomes more interesting when you are a teetotaler :)