Of reading Hindi


I read a Hindi book last week. It was after a long time that I'd picked up a Hindi book to read and I was not sure that I will go on to finish it, so completing it was a pleasant surprise for me. 

I've always considered my Hindi to be good, and though I never actively kept up with any Hindi literature, I was pretty sure that any reading material would not be beyond me. I was slightly taken aback to notice that it took some effort on my part to finish a relatively small sized book. I was not able to pin-point the meaning of many words (thank you internet, though I did have to look around hard in a few cases), I was not sure what exactly some phrases meant to convey (though I got the gist in most cases), and I was totally out of touch with most figures of speech. Thankfully, I kept at it and kept getting better at making sense of what the author was trying to say, until finally I was able to finish the book.

This made me realize that I cannot take my knowledge of Hindi for granted, even if it is my mother tongue. It has been a long time since I have had a full blown Hindi conversation with someone (even when I am talking to people whose mother tongue is Hindi), and if I count this book (and Raj Comics) out then I am not even sure which was the last Hindi book I read. 
Thankfully my local library has a decent collection of Hindi books, and I will be making good use of it in the near future. This post is part what I feel and part a reminder to ensure that I do not fall back to the same routine again.

By the way, the book that I read was 'Apna Apna Hastinapura'  by Sanyukta Mahanti. It is the story of a functional lower middle class family where each member is tied up in his own concerns and has certain view of others in the family. Each chapter is from the point of view of a different family member. This approach gets us involved with all the characters, there is no one protagonist, all of them take the story forward. If you have an interest in Hindi books you might like it.

My favorite piece from the story is when the author describes the need that the head of the family has for tea at certain times of day, and how it is almost a ritual for him to enjoy his cup of tea no matter what else is happening around him. I love this bit because of the fluidity with which he has explained the pangs that the head feels, and the calmness that engulfs him once he has his cup, I am slightly like that :) 

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