Hello! नमस्ते! Salut! Hola! 你好! привет!
Well you can tell that I’m excited about my journey of learning languages. While I’m pretty fluent with English and Hindi, and have some 4 years of elementary French training (most of which I’ve forgotten), my learning basket now also includes Spanish, Mandarin, and Russian.
Why these, you may ask? What has “polyglotism” (is this a legit term?) got to do for me anyway? Well, I can’t quite explain it, but I find knowing many languages as empowering in some sense. Probably it came from an early fascination with spies being fluent (with native accent, mind you) in them. Now it’s farfetched, with movies going all out on their assumptions, but not too bad an idea to give it a shot anyway. Knowing French allows me one more way of communicating with people in Pondicherry, France, Canada, and some African countries. Spanish opens up Spain, Latin America, and the US! Mandarin gives me access to Mainland China, Singapore, and all of the China-towns around the world. And Russian, because hey, Space and Russia. Might come in handy if I need to operate a Soyuz one day. (You can tell I’m ambitious).
One thing that I’ve learnt from my language escapades is that you will forget one if you don’t keep up with it everyday. I’m looking at a time frame of a few years, with daily practice of around half hour for all of them. Let me tell you how it goes as I go along.
Okay! That’s for languages. Besides, I’ve been struggling with research this semester. One important thing that I realised is that wanting to make your unique contribution in a single year can backfire. It’s important to have a good amount of faith in your guide — that they know what’s best for you and them — and then carry on trying to learn and not cure all world problems. The emphasis on learning has an important implication in keeping you productive, motivated, and stress-free. For you realise that when you dive into a field, papers on the topic may go as far back as 90 years, and to digest them and put out something new, even when you’re skipping decades, takes time. So hang tight. And have fun. Easier to preach than to practice, but try, really.
Moving on, I’ve lost weight – 5 kg to be exact. Running works, although it’s slow. This semester has really built up my patience. Instant gratification is as addictive as some drugs out there (wait, that’s probably the premise of how drugs work), and keeping one’s expectations realistic is more important than one realises. Grit, is the most important. Fancy a TED talk? Here: Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit.
I’ll sign off with a neat album that I discovered recently. Deru – 1979 – hope you like it. It’s an instrumental.
Until next time!