Posted in Anecdotes

A Foreign Language Irony

As I hold out a copy of the latest India Today (Ok, I was really reading Anantha Vikatan) and counting down the minutes for the arrival of Bangalore Express, My “then fiance, now Wife” (TFNW) reminds me I have to get Idlis from Murugan Idli shop for dinner. It was one of my several trips to Madurai a few years back to see my TFNW. The Railway department even went to the length of tracking me down and sending me a qualifying letter for getting a Season pass from Bangalore to Madurai (Ok, I made this up!). Those were the times when whoever bought shares of Bharti Airtel became millionares simply because of the talk time I spent with my TFNW.

Coming back to the story, I had about 45 minutes before the train arrived. I worked my way through the crowd at the Platform, accidentally hitting people like a snooker ball on rebound, reached the station side Murugan Idli shop and was ready to order, what else, Idlis. Along came a Woman from the other side to the shop. She was tall, fair and definitely didn’t look local, and didn’t look Tamil, and didn’t look Indian either. She was a Foreigner, was a tourist. Here is my chance to provide the utmost hospitality to a tourist who was kind enough to visit my hometown. I was brimming with a sense of helpfulness and I wanted to give the best explanation possible and help her order the dinner that she will love.

We both got close to the counter. I opened my mouth to start my train of Peter English, just when the shopkeeper tried to utter something in his own English, and the dear lady from a foreign country without pausing for a moment and without directly interrupting us, simply placed the order in Pure Tamil.

“Oru Dosa, Oru set Idli, Sambar Vendam, Chutney neraiya venum!”

Three Mosquitoes, Five flies and a Cockroach made its way in and out of my Mouth as I kept it wide open watching the foreign lady utter the purest form of Tamil. She wasn’t Foreign anymore. I exchanged a few more bewildered look with the foreign lady and the shopkeeper’s half petrified half clueless eyes and place my order for idlis and went back to reading the jokes in Anantha Vikatan.

Tamil Thai (Mother) was dancing disco in the tongues of an English Madam. I bowed to her sense of respect to the language I had lived in, picked up my order and walked away expecting no more surprises for the day.

Read one more interesting Irony here.

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I am a Software Engineer by profession. My interests are in Computers, Science, Technology, Movies, Music, Photography and Writing. I love to do a lot of things, but am still searching for the ultimate thing that I can love to do. You will find here all the volcanic outbursts of my creative side as I explore the world through my perspective. Well, mainly fun, what's world without any fun!

47 thoughts on “A Foreign Language Irony

  1. “Three Mosquitoes, Five flies and a Cockroach made its way in and out of my Mouth…” πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ I can imagine! Would have been worse if you had actually offered her help and she had declined in TAMIL!!

  2. Just an image of Tom came to my mind (T&J one), when he has such a situation and looks at himself in the mirror and sees his cat head turned into an jack*** head !!

  3. Reminds me of Vivek’s joke where when he tries to vuttufy peter to impress a firangi girl with ‘..blah…blah…blah..JAVA’, she turns to the shop keeper & says ‘Andha Ettu Pulli Kolam potta notebook onnu thaanga’

  4. Murugan Idly does strange things to people ! I remember a silly ad for a washing machine that used to be aired many years back.

    Where a Jap looking man used to run away with the washing machine towards the end with the tag line, ‘ i am taking with me to japan’ !

    Murugan idly and Madurai platform makes me miss home !

    πŸ™‚

    1. “I am taking with me to Japan” – I even remember the accent and the way he speaks that dialogue πŸ™‚ Me too, I miss Madurai Platform and Murugan Idly!

  5. well this is what happens with me most of the time.. I often Look like a north Indian By looks but all that i speak is local slang of chennai Tamil πŸ˜›

    1. Happens to me too with the Auto drivers in Chennai. Everytime I am at Central (Station, not the Jail) Auto guys would flock me and ask me either in English or Hindi. I will reply “Athelllam Vonam naan trainleye poikeeren”. I later grew a mustache hoping atleast that would give me a South Indian Look.

  6. I had a similar experience in JNU a few years back. The woman was definitely a foreigner and she was speaking the purest form of Hindi. It was jaw dropping.

  7. Buy a mask man!! Flies can fly but you can’t reply when one of them apply for your mouth πŸ˜€ (my little poetry πŸ˜‰ )
    I had *ulta* experiences many times…….
    Someone who is Marathi (mostly girls/boys who get down from a luxury car πŸ˜‰ ) shoots murderous scowls at me and my friend-shopkeeper whenever we try to speak in Marathi with him/her πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Your writing style is amazing πŸ™‚

  8. “Three Mosquitoes, Five flies and a Cockroach made its way in and out of my Mouth as I kept it wide open watching the foreign lady utter the purest form of Tamil.” hahahaha.. πŸ˜€
    Well, can’t agree more to all the comments above.

  9. Been there! Done that! Realised then that I was being judged the same way in the US when I was asked how I could talk fluently in English! πŸ™‚
    It certainly does feel nice when a firangi talks our languages!! πŸ˜€ when many of us seem to be taking pride in saying…” Oh…I can’t talk in tamil fluently or some such! “

    1. A number of times people here (Americans) do say I converse well in English, but when it comes to interacting with our people I stick to Tamil, Hindi or Sourashtra and If I use English I deliberately speak in crude Indianised English just to add the Amiable comical nature. I mean who wouldn’t want to listen to someone speaking English like Goundamani or Vivek!!! It is fun!

  10. He..he….reminds me of one time when i was “viewing” a house for rental and the chinese property agent spoke
    fluent punjabi….much to our embarrasement !!Dinesh, i love the way you write….will read your blog regularly….

  11. Really surprising!!
    I am not the type Suda mentioned but I still avoid speaking my mother tongue Bengali outside to avoid chatty shopkeepers or aunties or uncles i.e. anyone Bengali. πŸ™‚ I reveal my identity only when I see the person is not going to bore me.

    1. Every Individual has his/her own ways and this foreigner stumped me by showing that. I stopped judging people even though I cant avoid doing it sometimes, I atleast try to give them a fair chance.

  12. ROFL β€œThree Mosquitoes, Five flies and a Cockroach made its way in and out of my Mouth…” πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

    I would have loved to see your face πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Sandeep and yes no more judging! Welcome to my space! You photoblog is excellent, loving it especially since you post it with details of your composition.

  13. Hehehehe.
    I have heard of similar incident that happened to Swami Vivekananda when he was touring America.
    And I recently went to this boutique run by a Punjabi lady and her daughter. Just as I opened my mouth to say something silly about them to my companion, I heard the lady blast her tailor in fluent kannada and thanked my stars that I was saved the embarrassment.

    1. Ha ha , I think everyone has their episodes of Language based embarrasments. Reminds me of Mouna Raagam when Revathy teaching Tamil to Sardarji “Poda dei Madaya!”. Language is more of a barrier of communication than a medium, which is why most people rely on English as it is widely spoken and not Mayan or Latin!

  14. hey there

    nice blog you got here…. Enjoyed reading this post… i had a similar incident recently …. πŸ˜€

    Madurai – brings back fond memories..1st few years of my life were there….!!:D

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