A little Hindi goes a long way.
When I open my mouth and make some sound that I think sounds like Hindi no-one mocks me. “Nice Hindi!” invariably comes the reply.
The person then speaks to me in English and asks me what I want.
I’ve found that Indian’s really enjoy the fact that I’m giving the language a go. The people I’ve practiced my Hindi on haven’t just been patient, but really helpful.
But that’s not to say that there haven’t been some pretty embarrassing errors along the way.
For the first 18 months here, when my dear elderly neighbour has asked me how I am in the morning I think I’ve been replying, “I’m great”. I’ve learned from a freind that I haven’t been saying that, but using a similar sounding word. Sadly, the word I choose meant “old, senile woman.”
I’ve often wondered why Aunty looked so taken aback when I’ve replied to her morning wishes. I now know the answer.
That’s not been my only error. Instead of asking my local shopkeeper what had happened to his son, who I hadn’t seen for a while, I told him that his son had just died.
Fortunately, that day, his son was working at the back of the shop. After a quick check on his health we all could have a laugh. No problem.
Give the language a go. It’s probably the best thing I’ve done and its made my expriences in India immensurably better.