Communication Misses

She’s called Mother India, but sometimes living here feels like being in a relationship with a difficult man. Something I have a lot of experience with.

It comes down to a matter of communication, and how many of us are lucky enough in love to find someone who speaks the same language? It might seem that way at first, but then, at least when it comes to men and women, one day you realize that you’ve been having conversations with an alien. And so has he. She wants to talk about a problem she’s having at work. He thinks he needs to solve it and then doesn’t understand why she doesn’t follow his advice. All she wanted was someone to listen. And he doesn’t have it easy either. He pays her a compliment. She hears an insult. “I like your hat,” he says. And she answers, “What do you mean I look fat? Do you think I look fat?”

Communication misses.

India is a bit like that. And I love language and generally pick them up pretty quickly. In China I was arguing with cab drivers in record time. But here I’m lost. I picked up a Hindi book before I left, only to find out that in the northeast not many people speak Hindi. I’ve learned a few words of Khasi, but there are so many different dialects and languages in this part of the country, that most of the time I don’t know what in the hell I’m hearing.

Of course, it’s still easy to get around as English is the link language and everyone speaks a little, and quite a few people speak a lot. But then the nuances, the subtleties come into play, the things like “Oh, crap, did I just hand that school kid a banana with my left hand?” I never know if I’ve just made a major cultural faux pas or just a minor fool out of myself.  

But then, there are moments of grace and perfect synchronicity. A blending of heart and consciousness so that you realize no matter how difficult the relationship is, it’s worth struggling through whatever series of miscommunications are necessary to bring you this sublime place.

India is like that too.

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One thought on “Communication Misses

  1. I certainly know what you’re talking about. Though I’ve learned other languages, and traveled in other countries extensively when I was young, I was always aware that the cultural context was different, as soon as I left my own country, and especially my own city, Jerusalem. One has to be so careful not to offend, or not to make a ‘bad impression’.

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