Unlike the topic of this week’s it took me quite some time to pin down the moment which really changed my life. There are so many of them: A line you read somewhere , something a friend just happens to mention, an illness, a relationship, breaking off of a relationship, a look from a parent or a sibling. A phrase you read somewhere. A line from a song. Just about anything.
Especially when you don’t know what you want to do with your life (i really still don’t), you maybe very naturally gravitate towards looking for signs which might help you to navigate through this labyrinth called Life.
So i thought about it for a while: Maybe i should write about “The Little Prince”; specifically about the fox and the Little Prince. Or about my favorite quote from Rumi. Or my first ever holiday all alone. Or maybe the impact of “Sunscreen” by Buz Luhrmann.
These didn’t seem somehow life changing enough though. They have in their own way made a difference to my life and answered many of my questions. Still they didn’t seem BIG enough.
And all of a sudden, just like that, i knew the answer.
I have for the last decade and a half underestimated the importance of this moment. It has been the first Domino tile to set my wheels in motion.
It was the monsoon of 1997. Fresh out of school i wanted to something exciting, something which i had not done as yet and not many people (not the one’s i knew at least) had done this. Something exotic, something different.
So that Summer …er…monsoon (too much of an influence of romcoms and chic literature i guess’) i enrolled myself for the “G1” level (first beginners’ level) of German as a foreign Language at the Goethe Institut Mumbai.
But this isn’t the moment yet. As at that time, i was not really sure what i am getting into, where is it going to take me and how am i going to make use of this.
It was when i spoke my first sentence in German ever: “Mein Name ist…., wie ist Ihr Name” that changed my life. So many foreign sounds in my ear, on my tongue, in my mouth…So this is how one introduces oneself in Germany. Oh my God, am learning a language spoken in a country 9,000 km away, where they prefer drinking beer to water (i was appalled at that time to learn this, naïve that i was), I shall, someday, talk to a German in German, express myself in a language, whose sound i had till then never heard, and make it my own. WOW. I am learning German.
That’s how i felt at that moment. The whole idea that this language, which was then so foreign to me, was a mother tongue for a few million people (really, only a few million people. India has always been way ahead on this one count) hit me quite hard. That they fought , loved, prayed, expressed affection, anger, disgust, made promises, broke promises, wrote books, letters, did everything in this language, that didn’t really exist for me then, somehow really enthralled me. I wanted very badly then to learn it, speak it, feel it, taste it and make it my second native language. That has made all the difference in my life, for better or for worse, actually for better!