Learning a new "language": About Aurally Challenged Persons

Armed with more than a passing command over Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam, I looked forward to becoming literate in Kannada as well by training under friends, street and bus nameplates, billboards and screaming headlines. With my work finding me in Bangalore, I took efforts to put my daily couple of hours of travel to good use – reading, 'thinking' with 'eyes closed', observing fellow passengers and noting the innumerable ways the average road-user finds to gain inches forward in daily road races.

‘Talking nineteen-to-the-dozen’ was what occurred to me one such day as I looked up from my crossword to see a couple of schoolgirls dressed in smart beige and brown uniforms when on my way to work on busy Airport Road. It seemed to me that they were carrying on an animated conversation (some, who didn’t know better, would have termed it loud). Whether standing a couple of feet apart or seated across the aisle from each other, the dialogue always proceeded unbroken. As I continued to observe, I had no doubts that they sometimes even shouted in their excitement. Going by the non-stop flow back and forth, here’s how I reconstruct part of it:

“Could you complete the homework?”
“Oh yes, and you?”
“Only half – I was reading the lesson.”
“No problem – I think.”
“Hey look at that traffic – mad don’t you think?”
“Yes. I am glad we are on a bus.”
“Me too – I wish more people would prefer to take the bus rather than driving their own vehicles.”
“Oh well, let’s hope things improve… what did you do over the weekend?”

Seeing this, and taking in what my mind heard with appreciative fascination, I resolved to learn the language, and in the process, am discovering a whole new world - perhaps also the better to eavesdrop with, and relive carefree old school days… No - I am not referring to Kannada, in which tongue also I am picking up reading and speaking skills, courtesy obliging (indulgent?) friends – but to the (sometimes cruelly mimicked) sign language so expressively, ‘tell’ingly, and uninhibitedly practised by my speech- and hearing- impaired bus-mates.
Nov 2012  update:
Apparently, “Sign language is often the easy way out when it comes to communicating with such children. They never develop the faculty of recognising speech,” quoting from Articulate Expressions

Schools like Oral School for the Deaf in Secunderabad do not resort to sign language while teaching, instead, the students are trained in any one language.
Just fyi - Oral School for the Deaf
Near Bus Stop, West Marredpally
Secunderabad -500056
Ph: 9247574979

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