In case you’re thinking that the challenges of communication in our relationship are one-way, let me share with you some of my own linguistic and cultural mishaps. Perhaps one a post will do.
A year after we had met, Varun and I took a trip to India to Meet His Parents. While the thought of visiting an exotic and foreign country floored me, spending 5 weeks under the scrutiny of my boyfriend’s parents terrified me. Thankfully, Varun’s parents and sister were nothing but loving, welcoming and incredibly generous! After recovering, somewhat, from our jet-lag, we headed to the Himalayas to the village of Varun’s maternal grandfather, Nanaji. This man is a champion. He lives in an old house perched on top of a mountain, which can only be reached by hiking uphill for 45 minutes. He tends apple orchands, cooks his own food and loves life. Nanaji is 80-something and out-hiked us.
We stayed a few days at Nanaji’s house, loving the scenery, relaxing and playing cards. It was tricky because Nanaji cannot speak English, and my Hindi is baby-talk at best. Although we could see the snow on the mountains before the morning sun melted it off, I hadn’t thought to bring socks. (Hey, it’s India, it’s hot, right…?) At one point, I was sitting on a couch with my toes curled up under me for warmth. Nanaji entered, pointed at my feet and told me something in Hindi. Embarrassed at what I thought was a reprimand for having my feet on the furniture, I shoved my bare feet onto the cold floor and looked repentant. Everyone in the room burst out laughing. Confused, I looked up to see Nanaji offering me a brand new pair of socks. I put them on, relieved.
Later, I thought I’d be clever and ask Varun’s sister how to say “socks” and thank Nanaji in his own language. Armed with my pathetic Hindi, I approached Nanaji. “Mooja….aacha. Shokria.” Varun, his sister and Nanaji were unable to contain their laughter. Socks…good. Thank you.