The peapod can speak only Malayalam fluently and so it is a tad difficult for her to communicate with people other than family. She understands Hindi and English but she cannot form sentences. We had always thought she would pick up both the languages in school and it shouldn't be a problem. But we very much wanted her to learn/speak Malayalam well. She still manages with broken Hindi or English with Malayalam words to convey her message, like for eg, "Tu kidhar poguva"(Poguva=going), Mein Ammachy vetil chor khaya, (I will eat rice at Ammachy's place). Instead of correcting her we just laugh and kiss her for the cuteness of it all. It has never bothered us that she can not communicate in Hindi/English. Its OK if she isn't making friends by the dozen because she can not speak Hindi or English. She keeps running around, laughing, just generally playing and if she has to say something it will be her broken Hindi. We believe she will eventually pick up.
Over the weekend I happened to visit a friend of mine who has a 2.5 year old son. I had fun talking to him in Hindi. She is from Patna and her son speaks beautiful Hindi with the "aap" and "hum" added for good measure. I came back home to tell P we have to teach the peapod Hindi and ranted about how that would make her life easy outside home. I decided to start speaking in Hindi to her. It was already noon, and time for a siesta. As usual the peapod came over with a handful of story books. P reminded me of my resolve to teach her Hindi and so henceforth all story telling should happen in Hindi. I began the story of the Elephant and the birds and I could see P smirking. After a few minutes into the story I was fumbling for the right words and to complete the sentences as they should be. P laughed out loud at one such instance. "Your Hindi is atrocious", he said. "What nonsense", I replied. Given a chance to jump off the difficult Hindi story telling session, I immediately handed it over to him with a why dont you do it if you think you can do better attitude. As I listened to him narrate the story I realized, my Hindi is actually atrocious. I am incapable of speaking polite Hindi.
Its not like I am new to Hindi or sort but 8 years in Bombay has spoiled my Hindi forever (or maybe I should just blame the company I kept :) ). I think I spoke better hindi when we were in Gujarat. My Hindi has no "aap" or "hum". "Aap" is rendered only if you have grey hair and a walking stick. The sentence is never completed the way it should be with a "hai" or any such niceties, its all purely about communicating your ideas like "woh gaya or "tu ja raha hai kya" or "mein jake aati hoon" and the kinds. When talking to friends it probably doesn't matter but you can't teach your kid such atrocious Hindi. I have had trouble talking to people from Delhi or from the north basically where they address me as "aap" and themselves as "hum" and I just don't know how should I politely get to the crux of the matter or should I just ask "tujhe aana hai kya?". I have had delhities stare at me with their mouth wide open and probably thinking "How ill-mannered can one be". I try my level best not to speak Hindi to the "hum and aap" kinds knowing I can never speak that polite language. It can last only untill "Namaste, aap kaise ho" and after that it is holy shit in the name of Hindi.
So I shall just let the "teach Hindi" movement rest for now untill we have better people who can give the language its due respect.