As many of you might remember, my next post is in India and we are leaving in July. The Department has decided that neither of our jobs require language training since many people in India speak English. You might wonder if I am worried about not being able to communicate and the answer to that question is another question which is when has the Department ever sent me to a place with the ability to communicate in the local language? And the answer to that question is never. I have never had a full course of language training before leaving for Post, and I also suspect that even if I had, it probably wouldn't matter.
Here are some phrases and things I learned how to say from studying language through the official language programs both at FSI and at Post.
- Nuclear non-proliferation
- Education policy
- Anti-terrorism programs
- Economic development
- proper greetings and salutations on letters
- defense posture
- free and fair elections
- electoral process
- historical context
- cultural revolution
- energy issues
Here are how many of those phrases I actually used in my job and/or life at Post: 0.
I had one friend on the visa line who insisted on asking applicants if they were terrorists because they had taught him that word at FSI and dang it, he was going to use it! The applicants mostly just stood there blinking because they couldn't figure out what he was asking. Because who talks about terrorism during a visa interview about going to see their new grandbaby?
Here are phrases I wish I had learned at FSI but which they do not teach.
- I fell off a curb and I think my ankle is broken.
- The car battery is dead.
- The pipe burst and there is water pouring everywhere.
- My daughter does not want you to take her picture.
- I would like to order spicy eggplant and marinated cucumbers.
- How much can I get these for if I buy 10?
- She has had a fever for three days and now she has a rash and I'm worried.
- I slipped on the ice and fell and twisted my ankle. It feels broken.
- My oven won't stay lit when the stove burners are on.
- Yes I need both the oven and the stove burners to work at the same time.
- Does this have any wheat or gluten in it?
- Do you have a list of ingredients so I can see what is in it?
- Yes, I've broken both ankles at different times. Is it sprained or what?
- Our furnace is broken and there is oil leaking all over the floor and it's cold.
- Do you have any purses that are not IPR violations?
- I need something that will cure a headache but not make me sleepy.
- Did you clean these vegetables with bleach?
Now, DC, is not Boston by any stretch, but I am getting really tired of slipping on the ice every time I go out to walk The Dog. So, if the weather gods are listening, please bring us spring. Now. Soon. Because I keep having to wear my ugly mushroom coat which is really warm but ugly. Please, I need to wear the pretty green short sleeved sweater I just bought. No more snow! Or ice! Honestly, I can't wait for India. This move can't come soon enough. Now, somebody tell me how to say "how much are these and can I have two" in Hindi.