Monday, July 2, 2012

Tut mir leid, Ich bin auch tourist ...

Not knowing the language and still being a part of the social setup, is a bizarre feeling. To be shut out of random conversations in local trains, not being able to help somebody who actually trusted you and asked directions to a place, not to be in a position to explain what you want while you shop at the super market, and above all - disability to imbibe the popular culture viz. magazines, news papers, cinema, theater, music etc - It's so awkward. The complexity of the language under question only bolsters my pessimism that I will never be able to keep a conversation in German in the near future. Sometimes I have this imagination that I am a hapless new-born totally unaware of what is going on around me, except for the fact that kids hear and lip-read so fast and master a language really quick. The perils of swallowing a language so late in life is the inability to "get" it in German (for example) without taking the English route -- (i.e) German word - translate into English - write into the memory, and vice-versa. The word-picking rate gets drastically down this way. 

There is a general tendency in us - In a conversation, when somebody discusses things with words that we don't know, it tends to turn us off and we start to perceive the conversation as "boring". Starting to learn a language comes with this warning - each and every word that a native speaker utters is going to be new and to actually fight that ineptitude and somehow boost the learning curve takes some confidence and eagerness. Recently I had this plan to inculcate that eagerness by feeding my imagination about German culture, history and sociology (Ostalgie and Vergangenheitsbewältigung, to name a few). To actually develop a sense of taste towards a language that is not your mother-tongue is not an easy thing. English with its all-pervasive nature and India with its colonial fixations got it into us even before we realized. To artificially drill German into one's self thus is a Herculean task. Being away from the mother-land for so long generally sickens the intensity of the nostalgia for my "own" language, "own" music, "own" cinema and "own" everything. Inability with German is just another conflict within the self.

PS: The title of the post means - "I am sorry, I am a tourist" (in German).

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