Old folk at lunch

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jai Hind!

As anybody who knows me well by now will be aware, I am very pro-Indian. I imagine that anyone who likes Indian food as much as I do would HAVE to be pro-Indian but I may be wrong about that.

Anyway I have lots of Indian tenants occupying the spare rooms in my big house and as one moves out another one magically appears. I gather that there are not many landlords who welcome brown men so my fame as someone who PREFERS Indian tenants has spread a little.

Anyway, I was discussing just such a transition with two of my Indian tenants yesterday and the cheerful Pavan Kumar remarked how easy it was for me to get my preferred Indian tenants. Now, my knowledge of Hindi is almost entirely non-existent but I did know one expression. In reply I said: "Jai Hind" ("triumph to Hindustan" -- an Indian patriotic expression) -- which got a quite delighted response. And that pleased me too.

It's not the first time that my scraps of foreign languages have come in handy. Shortly after Patrick Heaven (a fellow academic psychologist) emigrated from South Africa, we were both at a party on a boat in Sydney harbour when Patrick said: "Lekker party". I replied in Afrikaans: "Baie lekker" (very nice). Patrick was much moved to hear his native language in a place where he never expected to hear it. He replied: "Don't say that. You'll make me cry". Emigrant South Africans do tend to miss their home terribly. But it's the wise ones who no longer live there.

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