Language Barrier

The letter from my head office was terse and to the point. The one-paragraph letter shattered my world. It stated that I had been transferred to Ahmedabad in Gujarat and was to join the regional office there exactly one month from the receipt of the transfer order.

Having spent most part of my life in Maharashtra, I was not keen to relocate to a different state. The biggest problem I foresaw was that of language. But my colleagues assured me that anyone who understood Marathi and Hindi would easily be able to pick up the Gujarati language. There was truth in this logic because after all Maharashtra and Gujarat were formed from the same Bombay presidency state.

Even before going to Ahmedabad, I was aware of the Gujarati's penchant for pronouncing "hall" as "hole", "Paul" as "pole" and "snacks" as "snakes", but was not acquainted with the Gujarati numerals. Imagine my chagrin then when upon landing in Ahmedabad an auto-rickshaw driver charged me "sattar" rupees for a two-kilometre ride to the office from the railway station. Now, "sattar" is 70 in Hindi and I refused to give him 70 rupees for a two-kilometre ride. Those were the days when 70 rupees mattered. The auto-rickshaw driver had to do a lot of explaining to make me understand that he was charging Rs. 17 and not Rs. 70. "Sattar" in Gujarati is 17 while 70 is "sittar". That was my first encounter with the language!

As I settled down, I heard the Gujaratis using a lot of "bay" in their conversation. For a person coming from the Hindi-speaking states, "bay" is not a good word to hear. But "bay" in Gujarati is the numeral "two".

Then, again, I was rather confused to hear one of my colleagues in the office always advising another colleague to "Saambhlo". Now, "Saambhlo", pronounced as "sumbhlo" in Hindi, means "take care". I just could not understand why my office colleague was always being advised to "take care". It is later that I learnt that "saambhlo" in Gujarati actually means "listen".

Well as months passed I took a great liking for Ahmedabad and its people, and also began to love the language. But as I was trying to pick up the nuances of the language, I received another letter from the head office, once again transferring me to a different place.

Some useful links for
your career:


  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu