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Friday, January 20, 2012

What India can do - 1

Last night, probably out of desperation (and totally unplanned) I was sitting in my hostel room and took out my camera and started filming. There’s nothing really exciting to see in my room, but I started anyhow. To make it more exciting, I started talking… and talking… and talking… Once I started, I couldn’t stop and before I knew it, I was having a full blown heart-to-heart with myself and the camera. I could have gone on and on for hours… but suddenly the camera blacked-out after 25 minutes… It just stopped and started beeping… and it said on the screen: battery EXHAUSTED! It was quite a funny moment: my talking had exhausted the camera… the battery didn’t simply need recharging… nope, it needed to recuperate…

Anyhow, this little event was a first for me. I’ve never sat and chatted to a camera, for no apparent reason, without having anything exciting going on around me. But it was probably out of desperation to talk freely. Over the past weeks I’ve been struggling with the lack of flowing and fluent conversations I can engage in, with the people around me. It’s almost impossible. Of course I talk… but most times I have to hold back, because they won’t understand… They either won’t understand my literal language – if I talk freely and flowingly – or they won’t understand what I mean. There are 2 different types of understanding when it comes to communicating. And with the daily connections I have, the conversations will be missing 1,5 of the understanding I ‘need’ from the listener if I wish to connect with this person or simply express myself, my thoughts, my days, my feelings.

I also realized that it’s been since the end of September since I’ve sat face-to-face with a western person who understands me fully. To speak without having to adjust my speech, is what I needed last night when I turned on the camera. And I did. Wouw… it was so nice. I could hear my voice, as though it was on the radio. I could hear my Irish accent, which I’ve had to lighten quite a bit, since teaching (they’d never understand me if I were to go into class speaking in a ‘broad’ Arklow accent – not that my accent was ever that broad… but you get my drift).

Anyhow, I was speaking freely and it was so nice. It was only babble babble babble… nothing of much significance, but it made me open up again. Because in my speech I’ve been limited. For weeks, or months even, I’ve only been speaking the same things over and over again to those around me (except for when I was living with Lekha, she was the only one I could speak freely with). People I meet in the street and teachers will ask the same questions all the time, because it’s the foundation of their English communication skills. And so, conversing has been mostly about what I’ve eaten today and yesterday… this will sound so ridiculous, I know, but it’s truly the main topic Indians can speak about and are interested in hearing when they come across a foreigner… And I must admit I’m tired of telling people what has passed through my stomach, EVERYDAY, at least 10 times over…even if they mean so well. I know it’s the Indian way, it’s their caring which is expressed mainly through the amount of food they can offer you and the amount that you can consume.

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