The joke’s delayed


Last week, one of my friends had been to Korea on work.

To overcome the language barrier, there were interpreters and translators in every meeting.

My friend told me something, which I found quite funny.

During their meetings, after the initial shaking of hands and good mornings, the Koreans would talk, the interpreter would translate into English, and then my friend would respond in English, then the interpreter would translate it back into Korean. This went on, back and forth till both teams had settled into a rhythm, and were more comfortable with each other.

By the second day, they were comfortable enough to joke with each other; the funny part was the Koreans would say something funny and laugh. The interpreter would translate, and wait for my friend and his team to get the joke. They would then laugh.

Once my friend and his teammates got the joke, both sides laughed with complete understanding.

Language is no barrier. Jokes can be enjoyed with anyone, even if we have to wait a bit!

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Rendezvous


My mom is staying with us for the holidays.

She is visibly excited. It is 5.50 p.m. and she is all set to go down to the park in the condo to meet her friends.

In the short time she has been with us, my mom has made friends, six friends to be precise.

However, this is a rendezvous with a difference. These seven women who meet every evening, do not speak the same language. Five of them are from different parts of India and the other two friends are from Japan and Korea.

A few of them speak English, but otherwise they use a mix of their own language, and English,  to communicate or just use gestures and sign language. They spend a good hour and a half together every evening, talking about their sons, daughters and grandchildren. They also talk about their spouses, many of whom are no more. 

Sometimes they have their evening tea or coffee by the pool, with each of them bringing something to eat. 

My mother takes me one evening to introduce me to her friends.

I say, “Namaste”! 

All of them radiate love and happiness. The Japanese lady bows gracefully. I am truly amazed, she gestures with her hand that she has a daughter like me. I understand perfectly. All of them smile and nod in acknowledgement.

All these women, probably in their seventies or eighties, deriving so much joy from making new friends at this stage in their lives, their eagerness to accept and share their thoughts and feelings, through the universal  language of love!

Truly, friendship has no barriers.

Of Barking, Running & Bonding…


My husband and I hail from the same State in India. However, my husband’s ancestors moved to a neighbouring state around 80 years ago.

So, though we share the same mother tongue, my husband’s version is laced heavily with borrowed words from the neighbouring state, where his ancestors settled.

While I can now understand most of what my husband’s family speak, the initial days of our marriage had me figuring out new words and their meanings.

This was because certain borrowed words, which my in-laws used in their language, meant something totally different in our mother tongue.

Two such funny incidents come to mind. A few months into our marriage, I came down with a cold and sore throat that slowly turned into a bad cough.

As I coughed away my father in law, asked me, “You seem to be barking badly.”

I thought I had heard wrong. I apologized and asked him to repeat what he’d just said.

He repeated the same sentence about barking. I laughed and asked him if he meant ‘coughing’ in our mother tongue.

We were all in splits. What was a common everyday word to them meant something totally different in my version of the language.

The other incident was about a clock. My mother in law asked me if the clock in the living room had stopped or if it was walking. Clocks in our mother tongue usually ‘run’. Another round of laughter.

The hands of clocks ran on one side of the border, while they walked on the other side.

I sometimes ‘walked’ and sometimes ‘ran’; my new family did the same, and slowly we learnt to appreciate the differences in our language, cooking, rituals and practices and started to enjoy the best that each other had to offer.