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Hello everyone, this is Owen and this is my podcast for Friday 30th August, 2019. I hope you’re all enjoying your summer. Welcome back to everyone who went on holiday. I’ve just returned from India myself and I’m still getting used to being back.
Today, I’ll be talking about the role of English in India and the aesthetics of cricket.
My trip to India ended quite abruptly . I had planned to stay longer but I ran out of steam . There were a few more places to visit and a few more people to meet, but I just didn’t have the energy. India can be challenging and frustrating. Nothing is ever simple. Seemingly simple tasks like buying a train ticket can really try your patience . So much so that you feel like congratulating yourself when you do finally get hold of  a ticket. At that point it’s almost as if your work for the day is done and you can head to the bar for a well-earned  drink. Foolishly , I was there during the hottest months of the year and that certainly didn’t help. It was so hot and humid as well as crowded, chaotic and loud that I got up one morning, looked at myself in the mirror and said: ‘Alright, I’m done. I’m out of here . I’m going home.’ And that was that.
One thing that makes travelling and working in India very easy though is that you can always find an English speaker. There is no language barrier, especially in urban areas. The vast majority of people I met are polyglots . The number of languages they speak is very impressive. Take for example the people in Bhuj, where I spent a fair  bit of time. They speak Kutchi, the language of their district, and Gujarati, the official language of the state. They also speak Hindi and a lot of them speak English. And in Kolkata it seemed to me that everyone is bilingual in Bengali and English and their Hindi is pretty good as well. They also have the advantage of speaking English with the most beautiful Indian accent.
It’s very interesting to me where the Indian languages and the English language meet. First of all, there is the mash-up  of English and Hindi called Hinglish. I heard it quite a bit on chat shows  on television. It’s basically Hindi, the same grammar and sentence structures, but with lots of English words thrown in . So somebody might start by saying ‘actually’ and then continue in Hindi only to then throw in ‘unbelievable’ and ‘balaclava ’ mid-sentence and then end the story with ‘incredible’. And I’m left guessing what in the world they were talking about.
Of course we do the same thing with Indian words in the English language. There are many words in the English language which are of Indian origin. The word ‘curry’ is a Tamil word. The word ‘bungalow’ is a Bengali word. The word ‘thug’, which describes a violent and criminal person, is a Hindi word. Another Hindi word that we use is ‘punch’, meaning the drink, as in: ‘Would you like a glass of punch?’ Punch is the word for five in Hindi and became the name of the drink because it was made with five ingredients. Then there’s ‘cushy’, which means comfortable and easy, as in: ’He leads a cushy life.’ Or: ‘She has a cushy job.’ I always thought cushy was derived from  cushion, the soft and comfortable thing you lay your head on in bed. But it’s actually an Urdu word meaning pleasure. There is also a new English word that the Indians use that has been added to the dictionary. You may know the verb ‘to postpone’, meaning to do at a later time or date, as in: ‘I need to postpone our meeting until tomorrow because I’m too busy today.’ Well, in India they came up with the verb ‘to prepone’, meaning to do at an earlier time or date, as in: ‘I need to prepone tomorrow’s meeting because I’m going to be too busy tomorrow”.
I mentioned in an earlier episode that it was the Cricket World Cup this summer. The World Cup took place in England and Wales but I was quite happy to be following it in India. India is mad about  cricket. They have a great team and they were one of the favourites to win the World Cup. I was secretly rooting  for India because I really wanted to be in Kolkata when India were crowned  world champions. Cricket is played in different formats. The format people like to make jokes about is Test cricket. That’s the one that can take up to five days and still end in a draw. During the World Cup though they were playing one-day cricket. The games in one-day cricket take, you guessed it, roughly a day. Cricket is perhaps not the most exciting game but nothing compares to the beauty of cricket. It’s a summer game, only played in dry weather, preferably under blue skies. It’s played on a large oval field of green grass. The ball is made of leather, the bat is made of willow wood. Everything is very elegant and stylish. The way the ball is thrown, the movements of the players, the sound of the ball coming off the wooden bats, all make it the most aesthetically pleasing  sport in the world. In my view at least. There were ten teams taking part in the tournament this year and they all played each other once. The top four teams then moved on to the semi-finals. Afghanistan made their first appearance in a World Cup this year alongside all the more well-known cricketing nations. India, unsurprisingly, made it through to the semi-finals along with Australia, New Zealand and England. Watching a Cricket World Cup final between India and England in India would have been an amazing experience but, alas , it was not meant to be . India lost their semi-final to New Zealand. The final between New Zealand and England was one of the most exciting games of cricket ever played. I ended up watching it all on my own though. Once India lost in the semi-final, the World Cup ended for everyone in India. The disappointment was huge. It was as if cricket had died. No one had any interest in the final anymore. England won, by the way, for the first time ever.
That’s all from me for this month. As always, thank you for listening and for your comments. You can listen to all our episodes by downloading our app or by visiting our website. Remember that you can also download our vocabulary trainer and you can find us on Instagram. I’ll be back on 27th September. Until then, take care everyone and goodbye!