Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Independence Day and Hindi Lessons

Yesterday, August 15th, was Indian Independence Day, celebrating 58 years since the ousting of the British Raj. They take Independence Day quite seriously here, more so than we do in the States, I think. Perhaps its because the event is so much closer to the memories of the people. There are still plenty of people alive and well who remember the first Independence Day and the national spirit is very strong for this holiday! All the kids had to learn the national anthem, which is great, but they also had to learn to stand properly for it. Properly in this case means absolutely still with your hand ramrod straight at your sides. NO MOVING. The teachers were quite intense as they patrolled the assemblies making sure everyone was standing at attention! But the festivities themselves yesterday were fun. Everyone is encouraged to wear Indian national dress (a sari or salwar kameez for women) and so I had a very nice suit (salwar kameez) made that was in shades of teal. I took a picture and hope to post it soon. We all gathered in the morning for a flag raising ceremony that also involved some singing and performing of Indian music. Then there was a reception during which the staff performed a dance they'd been working on. In the evening there was a special dinner and a dance performance by a professional troupe that had been around all week. They did a number of traditional dances from various tribes around India. It was quite fascinating! There were no classes so between the morning and evening activities a number of us hung out at the closest apartment to the school (all being far too lazy to walk home) and ate snacks and played cards. Good times.
Then today, I had my FIRST EVER HINDI LESSON! YAY!!! I'm so excited to learn a new language. The lessons here are private so it's just the teacher and me for 40 minutes twice a week. It's pretty intense. But good. Today I learned basic greeting (namaste, or namaste ji if you want to be more respectful) and how to say "what is this/that" and then "this/that is a ____" I can fill the blank with: pencil, book, pen, paper, table, chair, hand, and pocket. I also learned a few basic imperatives like "come in" "sit down" and "look at" "listen to" etc. I did really well in the lesson but of course have forgotten how to say half those things already. I got myself some notecards though so I can drill myself in the off-lessons. The Hindi script is pretty complicated, so for now, I'm working from transliterations into Roman lettering. Hopefully I can pick up the script soon, though, as with Hebrew. This is much more complicated than Hebrew, though, in my humble opinion!
Okay I'm off. Much love!


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