We had breakfast together and proceeded upstairs to her room. I committed a particularly dangerous act by thinking of starting off the day with whatever she thought was difficult... Hindi. Little did I know that I was at the deep end of the pool.
When I was in school, we started off Hindi in third standard, beginning with the alphabet.. then to simple words for pen, cat, cloud, etc. After that came simple sentences - Hindi equivalents of "What's your name?", "This is a boy..." ."Look at this family. How many people are there?" and moving on to grammar. It seems they have done away with the last two steps. In other words, after the alphabet and words, the books jump directly to something of the level of a Bachelor's degree in Hindi or something.
The teachers are least bothered. After a lot of coaxing and sly prompting, my sister revealed that her Hindi teacher wasnt really teaching them much. It seemed her teacher just explained the whole point of the lessons in one go and only took the trouble to point out the meaning of simple words that the students knew otherwise too. No explanation of grammar. None of why this is suffixed with "oonga" and not "tha". All this was revealed rather hesitantly, as she belongs to a quite well known school in the city and is, obviously, rather proud of her breed.
I was furious. It was because of those lazy teachers and the idiotic syllabus-setters and the even more moronic book-choosers that my eyes were popping out trying to explain stuff that I stopped studying years ago(and I really didnt like it, frankly!). I just know my way around in Hindi - basic stuff... and my knowledge beyond that is so poor that I want subtitles for Hindi movies :D Pathetic, yeah I know. Well atleast I'm okay in English. Thank God the international language isn't Zulu or something (no offence meant to anyone *whew*)...
I have talked so little Hindi that I remember almost all the long sentences I have spoken in my life! One of them is particularly interesting.. it happened in the October of 2006 in Delhi, during the Aerospace Olympiad - Chandigarh trip: Vice Principal and six of us standing near a chaayakkada(tea shop), where really nice smelling tea was being served piping hot... I found it too hot to taste, so I wanted one more glass to ..er.. is there a word for the process of "transferring the tea from one glass to the other (preferably held at a higher position than the cup into which the tea is to be transferred next), cyclically" ? If there is, please let me know for it was my lack of knowledge of the Hindi equivalent for it, that prompted my next (I think longest ever) continuous sentence:
"Bhaisaab, ye chaai buhat garam hai.. isko yehi(making the cooling action with my hand) karne ke liye, ek aur glass chahiye"
Well I spent around two or three minutes making up that sentence, and it paid off.. the good man handed me another glass without as much as a glance in my direction. Boy I felt so insanely proud of myself :)
I was, I think with that happening in mind that I must have ventured foolishly to teach my sister Hindi. The rest is rather obvious... halfway through a particularly torturous poem I told her to learn it herself.
Righto, coming back to the original point (dont ask me what now), none of the kids in her class know how to speak Hindi. They mug up meanings(in Hindi), mug up bizzare-sounding question-and-answers. Someone up in the book-selection and syllabus dept. of their school got it all horribly wrong. It doesn't end with Hindi though. She was trying to mug up "What is force? Force is something that can cause, or tend to cause; stop or tend to stop motion" last year, without understanding a bit of it. Being physics, I was enthusiastic to tell her in simple words what the heck it all meant. But you can't always blame the teachers. Why the hell would a fourth standard, nine year old kid need to learn the formal definition of force? The Indian education system is soooo f!!ked up.
I'm just waiting to see in which year they are taught the Special Theory of Relativity or numerical calculations based on Integral Calculus... oh wait, I havent checked her present textbook yet.