Friday, 25 February 2011

New kid on the blog

I arrived to the Bomdo village this time end of November last year. I had several expectations and was quite excited  and nervous since my field work was soon to begin. I was also excited that I would meet the village folk after six months. But I had an even more pleasant surprise in store for me. At about 1 pm when I arrived to the village and visited my man-friday Gekut's house he wasn't there. He and his wife had gone to the field, for it was the rice harvesting season. So I waited till early evening and then I saw Gekut rushing to the Inspection Bungalow where I stay. He said he had a third kid! In a hurry to catch a glimpse, I ran to his house.

The Poyup or the farm house where Kayit was born, in Loging
Gekut and his wife had gone to Loging, their current shifting cultivation field, and minutes after they reached Nyomen, Gekut's wife announced that she was in labour and having no other woman to help him with this, he just waited aside her helplessly and pulled the kid out himself. I was bewildered by the fact that the same day she gave birth she also went out to the fields to bring back at least 30 kilos of rice, and Loging itself is a good 5 km walk through the forests. However, here in the village there are several such instances. Perhaps due to their physical endurance during shifting cultivation, even giving birth to a kid is not as serious an issue as it is often in towns. The whole village apparently suggests names for new born kids till finally a name is chosen. I suggested 'Siben' which is the local name for a takin (Budorcas taxicolor), making him a very special person, being named after the rarest animal in the region. The lad was finally named Kayit and I see him almost everyday and still call him Siben! Gekut says someday Kayit will become the Deputy Commissioner of the Yingkiong circle and I said that I will happily fund his education.

Gekut and Junior

Friday, 4 February 2011

हैं होगा

I've by now absorbed a bit of north-east hindi lingo, which is quite confusing compared to the hindi we speak in the rest of the country. Here, the language has been adapted to the inherent logistical uncertainties there. Here is a hypothetical instance...

One day, one Nyishi tribe folk asked another, 'has the bus been here yet' and the other Nyishi replies, 'no'. It had so happened that the latter fellow had not noticed the bus leave when he was off for 'minus'. Minus is by the way, what folks here refer to answering nature's call, a simple logical euphemism. So then after waiting the entire day, the first Nyishi walked up to the other guy and bashed him up for no real fault of his. There must have been several such instances, with the topic of discussion each time being different, nevertheless, leading to major arguments or fights.

Here is the only way it could have ever got resolved, by the inclusion of this beautiful hindi word 'hoga'. Consider this, if in the previous instance, the person replying had said 'Bus to gaya nahin hoga', the other could have re-considered the truth in the non-affirmative reply, and could have asked another person who could be more definite about such simple things as to whether a bus had left or not. But it so happens that the other guy would also reply, 'Bus gaya hoga', since he was also involved in arguments as the one mentioned afore. My point is that in the general language, 'hoga' has become a diplomatic suffix which makes it tough to know answers to simple questions. The funniest hoga yet is 'hain hoga'. This is somewhat similar to scientific writing. Writing 'considerably different', 'statistically different', 'likely to be different' keeps the person writing safe from future discoveries!

By the way, there is an extension to 'hoga', which I assure you by experience, only complicates matters. Often, the word 'kya' is added as a bonus suffix to 'hoga'. So, 'has the bus been here yet?', pat comes the safest and often useless reply, 'gaya nahin hoga kya'. When I get this reply, I would ask about what time does it usually leave, to get an idea of his confidence interval and to know if his today's data is an outlier!

Like I mentioned earlier, anyone who has been here for a while adopts this lingo. There are other ways in which the hindi here is different. 'Nahin' (no) becomes 'ho jayega' (will do or enough). Not long ago, my sister in Bangalore had made rotis for dinner. After belting half a dozen when she asked me if I would like more, I said 'ho jayega'. She asked me 'kya ho jayega' (what will happen).

Apologies to folks reading this, who don't have a hindi background. 'Samaj mein to aa jayega hoga!'