Sunday, June 30, 2013

Angootha Chaap (Thumbprint Signer)

How easy it is to be reminded, that one's life experiences are but an infinitesimal fraction of the world's and one's knowledge and learning in one sphere is of little consequence in another.

Two weeks ago I prided myself on being able to speak 4 languages. A week later, stepping into the far-east, my utter illiteracy felt like a scathing slap to my misplaced hubris. Mandarin, a language spoken by over 20% of the world's population, with a beautiful pictographic script evolved from 5000 years of rich culture and history, where each character/word is laden with meaning, heavily nuanced, differently intonated,  and an art and history lesson in itself.

Yet, all I could do is make vague hand gestures, or get things written by helpful hands for me to wave to taxi drivers and tour guides. In other words, I had become LotstoDo, PhD. Angootha Chaap (thumbrint signer).