Big Gora Learns Hindi

Big Gora Learns Hindi

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dhire dhire!

धीरे धीरे!
That means, essentially, "slowly, slowly," or maybe "gradually" or "a little bit at a time." I think anyone who's ever studied another language has that response all the time: "Please just slow down a little!" Apparently linguists have found that there's no significant difference in the respective speeds at which different languages are spoken; but of course, the languages you don't know as well and struggle to keep up with seem to move lots faster. One's native tongue has to be spoken super-superfast to seem like it's going that speed--like in the old Federal Express commercials.



1970s Federal Express Commercial

Nevertheless, I blame Shah Rukh Khan for the high speed at which Hindi barrels toward me.
Maybe if I knew more about Indian popular entertainment I'd have additional guilty parties to name, but for now I blame him! In several of his movies, especially everyone's sentimental favorite Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, he adopts a persona that is goofy and hyperactive.



He never stops moving, twitching, mugging; he speaks a mile a minute. See this, for example.

SRK in DDLJ

He's still one of the world's biggest movie stars, so he was bound to be copied. Uday Chopra in particular seems to be channeling hyper-SRK most of the time. It comes across (to me) not as funny and appealing--just as hyper and annoying.



Maybe that's why Uday Chopra hasn't made many movies lately--no one wants to listen to him!
I've become a fan of the Indian soap opera Pavitra Rishta. I checked out several, and this one (for me) has the best combination of elements I'm looking for: things actually happen (as opposed to one American soap I watched for about a year just out of morbid disbelief in what I was seeing--Passions; any simple conversation there could be repeated and rehashed for weeks); moment-to-moment implausibility is held to a minimum, by soap opera standards; and most importantly, it features current everyday Hindi that I can use to practice and improve my fluency. (I also, by the way, like Qubool Hai, but it features a lot of Urdu, so it's not as useful.)



A longish digression on Pavitra Rishta: the show did something very strange a few months ago, something I'm still trying to process. The man and woman on the far left and right of this picture were (in, yes, one of the more implausible elements) supposed to be husband and wife, parents of the female behind them. (The two women look the same age to me.) The husband in back--Arun, was it?--was an aggravating hothead, always picking fights with his wife. The older and younger couples were the main characters, then there was also a major subplot in which the older couple's adopted son was frighteningly stalking a beautiful young doctor. This doctor was engaged to marry someone else, but the stalker "knew" she was "destined" to be his, so he would never be turned away. Anyway, the stalker apparently kidnapped the pretty young doctor, killed her in an accident (?), and ran away. Cut to: it's now 20 years later, just like that. There's no warning or explanation, it just is. (Despite the fact that cell phones and other prominent markers of technology were current with ours now, 20 years ago, and in the new timeline still are.) Somehow this crazy stalker guy, still alive and well in Mumbai despite his horrible alcoholism, has five kids but no (living?) wife, including a beautiful 20something daughter whose love life is at center stage.
But get this. Said daughter looks exactly like Archana, the implausibly-young-looking mother pictured above, did those twenty years ago, although there's no blood relation or even contact between them. (For now.) Even the alcoholic stalker was only Archana's adopted son. Archana is now old, grey, and tired, and lives with her husband (who did not visibly age) somewhere in Canada. The show's focus stays on the circle of people around the young daughter in Mumbai, named Ankita, with occasional brief reminders that Archana and her family are still out there, much older now.
Ankita is married to a "mad genius" named Naren. For reasons just now beginning to be explored, he has a persistent delusion that his wife's name is Ahana, and he always calls her that. She'd married him for his money, to help her family, which was socially and financially devastated by the drunken father's perpetual bad behavior; however, Ankita/Ahana has now fallen in love with Naren, living up to the Indian ideal "Marriage first, then love."




Now, at last, to the point: Naren is a fast talker to rival the Federal Express guy! Check him out here, especially at about the 1:00 mark.

Naren talks fast on Pavitra Rishta

Look what you've done, SRK! Just LOOK at what you've done!
धीरे धीरे!
And शुक्रिया भगवान को लिखित भाषांतर के लिए! [shukriya bhagwaan ko likhit bhaashaantar ke lie/thank God for subtitles!]

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