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The White Hindu has moved! This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two Encounters

Quick second post for today. Two cool things that happened to me this week:

1) I managed to use a tiny smidgen of my Hindi.

I'm always shy to try out my Hindi on Indians. I go into the Indian grocery store and I sometimes overhear the old woman behind the counter speaking Hindi to others in there. When it's my turn, she and I do a lot of smiling and nodding and no speaking at all.

This week I went in to get a few things and I psyched myself up to say "dhanyavad" as I was leaving. And she said "You're welcome."

It wasn't much, but it was a start. :)

2) I had reason to go to 7-Eleven yesterday. I could see through the window that there was an Indian guy working there. (Hello, and welcome if you are reading this blog, sorry I didn't catch your name!). I was tempted to take off my bindi, as I've been wearing it only in places where I don't think I'll encounter Indians. Weird, I know.

But I went in wearing it. He asked if I was from India. I said no and I gave him a card with this website, but he actually seemed completely satisfied with the simple answer that I'm Hindu.

I was comforted. Maybe it doesn't need to be a big deal at all. Why are you wearing a bindi? Because I'm a Hindu. End of story. I like it!


  1. Glad to hear that you were able to muster up enough courage to say something at the market. The first step is always the hardest. Maybe it would help if you had a really close Hindi speaking girl friend. Then you could practice in private conversation.

    I feel the same way about wearing my kurti's I don't ever want to wear them when I know we are going to be around a lot of Indians. I guess I don't want to look like I'm trying to be an Indian wannabe instead of the girlfriend of an Indian who just so happens to really like Desi clothing.

    It's good that you are feeling like you only have to say "I'm Hindu(end of story)" because there is no reason why should have justify it. Fact is Fact.

    Have a great weekend

  2. It is interesting that she said "You are welcome" after you thanked her in Hindi. This "completing the transaction part" (as I mentally picture the "act" followed by "thank you" followed by "you are welcome") is not there in any Indian language as far as I know i.e it ends with "dhanyavaad".

  3. It is funny that it completed with English. I've heard that "Apka svagat hai" is "you're welcome", but I haven't heard anyone actually use that. It might be a bit too literal.

    I was particularly pleased that she understood the word I said! I'm worried my accent is terrible right now because I haven't trained my tongue to say all the Hindi sounds that aren't in English.

  4. it is funny that you don't wear bindi in front of the indians.
    may be as well because indian culture is intrusive in nature. and 100s of question may follow.

    nice that you manage the courage to have some hindi practice . your shyness is quite common. indians (who live in india) learn english as a second language from the childhood. but it takes a lot of effort for most of us to open our mouth in english for the first time.

    initially i used to fumble terribly when by necessity i had to use english in daily conversation despite knowing it reasonably well. it took some time to get used to it.


  5. I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one who is shy about using a language. I understand a lot more Hindi than I feel comfortable saying! Even so, I get lost in a conversation very quickly.

    And yes, I know when Indians see me wearing a bindi there are going to be a ton of questions :)

  6. He may have thought that you were Indian on your father's side. I've known Indian women with white mothers who look more like their mothers but have Indian culture and identify as Indian. Sanjana Kapoor is a celebrity example.