Friday 31 March 2023

Lost in Translation: My Hilarious Adventures with Pahari English

When I first arrived in the Pahari region of India, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of the English language. After all, I had grown up speaking it and had even studied it in school. But it wasn't long before I realized that things were not as straightforward as I had assumed.

You see, in Pahari English, words are pronounced in ways that can be entirely different from what I was used to. And not only that, but the way they're pronounced can completely change their meaning. It was a fascinating and divergent experience, to say the least.

One example that sticks out in my mind is when an Irish guest asked for a "Playing card" from one of our helpers. Now, our helpers are overzealous when it comes to guest service, so even though he didn't understand what the guest meant, he ran and brought back a plate of "Plain curd" instead. We all had a good laugh about it later, but it just goes to show how easily things can get lost in translation.

Another time, a helper came running and told me that the receptionist didn't "certify" the guests. It took me a million seconds to configure what he meant - he had meant "satisfy." It was a hilarious mix-up, but it also made me realize just how different Pahari English can be from what I was used to.

And then there are the words that are just plain different. For example, Paharis refer to a vegetable peeler as a "Cheeler" instead of a "Peeler." It may seem like a small thing, but when you're trying to communicate with someone and you don't know the local lingo, it can make all the difference.

But even with all the linguistic quirks, there's something radiant and rapturous about the Pahari region that keeps me coming back. It's a wilderness full of prolific storytellers and characters that always keep me on my toes.

One of my favorite memories is when a staff member of mine was giving directions to guests who had just gotten off the train at Ramnagar Railway Station. Our property was right next to Hotel Solitaire, but he pronounced it as "Sauliter" - or 100 liters. When the guests didn't arrive by lunchtime, I called him to check in, and he said he couldn't find "Sauliter." We were all in stitches when we realized what had happened.

In the end, my experiences with Pahari English have taught me to always keep an open mind and a sense of humor. It may be different from what I'm used to, but that's what makes it so interesting. So the next time you find yourself in a foreign land, don't be afraid to embrace the local dialect - you never know what kind of spinner of yarns you might meet along the way.

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