Dr Dini speaks Mizo, Hindi, Bengali, English and now Kannada!
Co-Founder Language Curry, Vatsala Sharma speaks to Dr Dini about why she learned Kannada.
Dr Dini belongs to Mizoram and is doing her residency in the state of Karnataka after completing her MBBS in West Bengal. She took Kannada classes to be able to converse with her patients and give them counselling.
V.S.: Why are you learning Kannada?
Doctor Dini: 'For me, I have to learn the local language to understand. I am meeting patients every day. I have to understand their complaints, even the smallest of things. Besides that, I have to be able to give them advice. Hence it was important for me to learn the local language (Kannada) to be able to communicate with the patients.
V.S.: Where have you studied?
Doctor Dini: 'Till the 12th I studied in Aizawl, Mizoram. MBBS I studied in West Bengal. I had to learn bits and pieces of Bengali at that time. Compared to doing your residency at that time too but then compared to doing your residency you don't get to talk to the patients so much. We don't have to ask them this thing and that. The conversation was a bit difficult (in West Bengal).
V.S: Did you try the new phrases with your patients?
Doctor Dini: Every day during my OPD sessions, I would try to frame a sentence; if I think that is right, I think that is right I would try to use it with the next patient. Some phrases I was getting used to but the problem is my pronunciation is not something they are familiar with. So even if I speak their language they would ask, 'Haaa? Hai'? They'd be really surprised and wouldn't understand!
V.S.: Speaking to patients in their language (instead of English or Hindi), does that affect your rapport with the patients?
Doctor Dini: 'Once the patients know that I understand what they are saying they feel much more comfortable. But the problem is that I can't talk back fluently (yet) in Kannada. I had this one patient. They told me the problems in their language. And then I tried to respond in Kannada, but I started mixing up words from English, Hindi and Kannada'! At that point the mother said, ma'am-ma'am I understand English, you can tell me in English!
V.S.: Tell us about your language learning experience.
Doctor Dini: I studied till class 12 in Aizawl (Mizoram). Hindi and Bengali were very new to me but they both are very similar. Once you get one thing in Hindi then you can get the meaning in Bengali. Only the pronunciation is different. It's not so different. But Kannada is so different. That is why I am starting from ABC. At least Hindi we learnt in classes. I know how to read and I understand some things.
V.S.: Do you have any notable anecdotes about learning Kannada?
Doctor Dini: We used to give advice to mothers, that they have to give the baby breast milk. The first thing I learned... the second time I went for rounds by myself without my teacher- I asked the Sister, how do I tell the mother to give milk or to ask 'is the baby drinking milk? But I forgot what the sister exactly told me. After that, I went from bed to bed and asked all the new mothers, 'Hālu kuḍi? 'Hālu kuḍi? 'Hālu kuḍi?' I was supposed to ask, 'hālu nīḍi' which means to give milk. But I had been asking all the mothers, 'Hālu kuḍi?' which meant drink milk! (laughs).
V.S.: Haha! But I am sure that it broke the ice. You are also taking live online Kannada classes with us. Any suggestions for us to improve there?
Doctor Dini: Actually right now I am quite satisfied. I had thought I would learn it by myself but we were getting mixed up with the past present and future tenses. Once I started the class (live sessions with Language Curry teachers) I improved a lot in that.
V.S.: Great Dini, it was lovely talking to you. Thank you so much.