I have found that my Tamil is not as rusty as I had thought. My vocabulary has not dwindled much, and my pronunciation is about where it was when I left. I have picked up a few more words and am finding reasons to use them. I haven’t yet mastered the infamous “zh (see point #4)” letter combination; however, after choking on my tongue a few times I am getting closer.
Not only has my Tamil changed, but I’m finding my English has as well. I have begun to phrase things in the way many of my friends do. I catch myself completing a sentence and then thinking, “Wait, did that even make sense?” but more often than not my point has been received and the conversation carries on. None of the alterations in my grammar are hard to figure out, but it is certainly not the way I’m used to speaking. I also find myself thinking in Tamil-English as well. Let me give you a few examples:
I slept off= I fell asleep
I have reached= I’m here
I have taken food= I ate
I will drop you= I will give you a ride
There are times when I find that I need to think differently about what someone says in order to make sense of someone’s comment to me. Let me give you an example (a bit of a comical example). This morning as I was walking down the road to my duty, one of the physios that works at Rehab was pulling out of his driveway and offered to “drop me.” This particular physio is very quiet and keeps to himself, sharing only his tender smile and nod of head. I accepted his kind offer and as I climbed on the back of his bike I began to rethink my initial impression of him; I originally thought he was opposed to my presence in India.
The ride was short and fairly quiet; however, as well pulled up to rehab he turned to me and said, “You have added much weight.” I shot him a quick quizzical look while simultaneously thinking, “Did he just tell me I look like I've gained weight?” “I know my Indian attire is not always flattering but…” “Here I thought we were starting to get along and he goes and calls me fat!” “Boy! God bless the people who just speak what’s on their mind!!” It then dawned on me that more than likely he was just commenting on the fact that he doesn't often have passengers with him on his bike and that my presence made bike handling a little more challenging; after all, there were a few rough bits on the trips. I thanked him for the lift, gave a little chuckle, and reminded myself not to take things too personally before considering the context, and also... eat only one idly for breakfast.