Are there any good libraries in Jaipur?

Hindi in Jaipur

It's something special, the first time in India. Especially if you are an Indologist: do you like the country and the culture not only from a distance, but also locally? Can you get along with people? For some of us Indologists in Würzburg, the language course in Jaipur is exactly this first time, including me.

So there I was, and only a few months separated me from India. Well, India is one of those countries that we imagine are so overloaded: with fairy tales, with palaces, with women in saris, with pomp - the Orient. India, wonderland?

Of course there are very different images of India in people's minds: India, a country of poverty, disease, underdeveloped - do you really want to go there ?!

What should you expect there? Yes what? In a country that is so completely different from our Europe in its very own way, the culture shock cannot be absent, in one way or another. I can still clearly remember that: we leave the airport, the heat beats Above us together, crowds around us, we fight our way to a taxi with our heavy rucksacks. We show the taxi driver our slip of paper that says that we paid the taxi in advance, he waves us into his taxi and off we go. Into the Indian traffic - and that is now a real experience. Everywhere it is teeming with people, with bicycles, with rickshaws, with ... and at first you just struggle to overcome your fear: "Oh God, we will all die !!" Yes, Indian traffic alone is a culture shock in itself.

And because India can be so confusing, so full, so loud, so colorful, in short: so completely overstimulated, it is particularly important that you do everything you can to get some trouble out of the way from the start. Despite all the preparation and all the intercultural competence acquired, the cultural change is already sapping strength; you can't use unnecessary little things to call for attention.

preparation

So what's the best way to prepare? By talking to each other beforehand, exchanging ideas about what you need, running errands together - maybe just buying the plane ticket together. Especially when you go on such a long journey for the first time, you feel much more comfortable and safer when you realize that you are not alone, but that there are even more people in the same boat. So just agree briefly beforehand: who wants to stay in India from when to when? Who would like to travel before / after? Whose desires overlap? Also practical: distributing general errands, for example a common first-aid kit, which is then open to everyone in India if necessary. A little lifesaver tip at this point: diarrhea medication, flu pills and handkerchiefs (the ordinary cold is often forgotten and can become really unpleasant if it catches you unprepared) but above all: electrolytes that can be dissolved in water - believe me, you will need them! At some point, Indian food catches everyone.

Also very practical: a large trekking backpack instead of a suitcase. Especially if you still want to travel afterwards. It is impossible to imagine moving a suitcase around when you can simply strap the backpack to your back.

As for the content, two things should be kept in mind: Jaipur is not a native village in the deepest jungle of Assam. You can get practically everything you need there. In addition: India is a country that attracts shopping - and that can take up a lot of space in your suitcase. So maybe only fly with 13-15 kilos instead of the allowed 20 (it can be done!), The bag will be full! Especially the women of creation do not need to take too much clothing with them, because if Salwar Kameez appeal to you, then you should really stock up on them in India. There is hardly a more comfortable piece of clothing, even in such heat. It also meets the standards of decency, which are a bit higher in Rajasthan than in the rest of India. So it's best to keep your shoulders and knees covered, possibly tops that also go over your bum, and no too daring cleavage - that goes down very well, and you get praised for not dressing "like a Westerner".

Check your passport for validity in good time and take care of your visa - even if the Indian visa office in Munich is quite fixed and usually issues a visa within a week.

As for money, it all depends on how much you intend to buy. In Jaipur itself you only have to buy one meal a day and the rest is taken care of. In addition, essential chips, water, cola, mazaa, limca, sweets. But because that's not particularly expensive in India, it doesn't really matter. The situation is different if you want to run some errands in India and want to travel. If you also plan to go shopping, you can exchange 200-300 euros with Thomas Cook at the airport. Then you realize how to get there. If it is not enough, you can withdraw something at Citybank, for example, at any time, even with the normal EC card (the debiting fees incurred are reasonable at around 5 euros).

Arrival in Delhi

So if you arrive at the airport in Delhi, then you should buy a ticket for a prepaid taxi at the airport - then there is no need to negotiate a price, which can be really annoying at first. It is not absolutely necessary to take care of accommodation beforehand, you should have a travel guide with you, in which various accommodation alternatives can be found. Even then, of course, you can have bad luck - like we did back then. In the end, we let our taxi driver cart us to an official travel agency and were allowed to ring some hotels there for free until we finally found one that still had a room available (but we also had the misfortune that it was some public holiday) . Not the worst method either, you just can't let yourself be seduced by a city tour or the like. In general, in India you should be very vehement (but not unfriendly! Always stay calm) when people try to talk you into something or urge you to do something - it happened to us that the porters in the hotel wanted to urge us to tip more, and we ended up tipping way too much. Ignorance is often exploited. 10 rupees is definitely enough tip for just a small handyman service!

You will be picked up and brought to Jaipur from the Max-Müller Bhavan, the Goethe Institute in Delhi. Important: it is essential to write down the exact address, including the Marg (street), otherwise the rickshaw driver may not find it.

In Jaipur - General

And from then on it is already over with being on your own. The all-round carefree package follows from now on. Travel by minibus to Jaipur. Just lean back, let the landscape pull by, endless fields. To be greeted in Jaipur with flower chains, in the darkness by Hemant-ji and Professor Surana a warm welcome. Slightly sleepy, I relax in the cozy, woven wooden armchair and just listen - we are greeted very lovingly in perfect German by Hemant-ji and Professor Surana, receive our timetables, are briefly informed about yoga, dancing, tabla, dinner , Room allocation. A happy feeling spreads - so now I am actually in India!

In general, you are always in a secure network of relationships in case something happens - even if Hemant-ji's brother is a doctor and was always able to take care of our sick immediately. We also have a minibus that takes us to school, to our afternoon activities or just to the bank or to the city for shopping. Again and again Hemant-ji comes by in the evening, asks how we are, what he can do for us, cares about us touchingly. Since he also runs a travel agency, he also helps us with plans for our time to Jaipur: whether we want to rebook a flight or go on a camel tour in Jaisalmer. I can only warmly recommend the latter: if you would like to go on a camel tour, let Hemant-ji organize it for you. He will refer you to a super nice hotel and good camel guides (the ideal Hindi test dummies, after all, you sometimes sit on the same camel for hours)! He can also help with weekend trips during our time in Jaipur. For example, we were able to take a day trip to Fatepur Sikri and the Taj Mahal with our minibus. So we were able to decide for ourselves when we wanted to stop where and for how long in a relaxed manner and were not dependent on trains / buses etc.

Otherwise, the days are pretty full with language courses, dance / tabla / yoga classes, sometimes small lectures and day trips. We are looked after every step of the way, we are looked after - and maybe a little too much. In retrospect, I have the impression that it would have been better if we had done more on our own. And if only it had been the ride to the bazaar in a self-negotiated rickshaw (we always had our minibus, which was available to us around the clock). We have probably avoided quite a few catastrophes - but I believe this confrontation with situations in which not everything works like clockwork is simply part of the learning process in India.

The evening program

Kathak and Tabla

At this point a few words about the evening program: I took the Kathak course myself, not to say: let myself endure. If you want to do the Kathak course, then you should really want to. Because: the course takes a long time: we had to leave every day at five o'clock and towards the end we didn't get home until half past eight; one is accordingly starved. The course is exhausting, you often feel overwhelmed or you need a quick break. Together with our teachers, we have already survived one or the other crisis. And you can get stuck with the Indian mentality very quickly when it comes to Guru-ji. At this point I don't want to put anyone off the course, on the contrary! One should just be aware of what one is getting into. Because if you take the risk, you will be rewarded a thousandfold. You get a glimpse of a real Indian extended family, and you are also really loved. And above all, you get an insight into very traditional teaching structures. Guru-ji is simply Guru-ji, one of the best Kathakleher Rajasthan, and you yourself are a student, and there you just don't discuss (or as diplomatically as possible). What Guru-ji says is done. In return, he teaches very self-sacrificingly and really cares about his students. Also his whole family: his sons, his silent daughter, their three very sweet children, they can really grow on your heart. And despite all the frustration, on the final evening, the evening of the demonstration: I stand there with the others, we endure the millionth photo, in our magnificent costumes, draped over and over with jewelry, painted with make-up like on Carnival, all people smile and congratulate us, with every step the countless bells on our feet ring clear and bright, and then up on the stage, we sing our song: I see Ms. Surana in the audience laughing happily and clapping her hands in time - then I know: all efforts have paid off so infinitely!

A few tips regarding the Kathak class: In terms of clothing, it is essential to wear a salwar, or at least a kurta, something that goes over the bottom, that is what Guru-ji wants. The clothes should of course be stretchy and comfortable. Always take enough drinks with you, because you will sweat a lot, also bring an extra notebook and pens, because you will have to copy and memorize the classical notation of the Kathak Tal, as well as some mudras (hand postures) and other basic information about Kathak. The dancing takes place with bells on the feet, which are attached to long ribbons and tied around the legs. You get these tapes initially on loan, but you can then buy them yourself for around 1000 rupees. If you want to continue practicing Kathak at home, this is of course ideal.

For the tabla players the program looked pretty much the same as for us, they too were trained with us, in the next room by one of Guru-ji's sons. Playing tabla requires a lot of instinct and an incredible mastery of each finger independently of the others. Our two brave tabla players were sometimes at a loss as to how this should work. It was always funniest when they could finally come to us in the dance room and smell the fragrance to accompany us as we dance. In addition to accompanying the dancers, the tabla players also learn a small piece of their own, which they can then perform on the final evening (and just like the dancers have to recite in traditional notation beforehand). Tablas can be bought after the course.

The yoga class was nowhere near as long as our dancing. All the yoga people told me how much they liked yoga, how relaxing it was, and how great the real ashram they had classes in.

yoga

Therefore, here is a small insert from someone who has done yoga:

As I said, the five of us “yoga people” were really happy not to have chosen Kathak. Yoga really only took an hour and the drive to the ashram only five minutes. That means, we left later than the dancers and were usually back one or two hours earlier in the guest house, so that we could shower in peace or even have more time for homework. This is perhaps also worth considering, and a question that everyone should ask: Because if you really primarily study Hindi and come to Jaipur for the course, and want to take as much as possible with you for the language from there, you should perhaps really choose yoga , because then you simply have more time for “school stuff”. With Kathak you simply get the concentrated load of Indian culture again, and where the priorities lie, everyone has to decide for themselves in the end.

So now for class. As already said above, it took place in a small ashram, which probably specialized in tourists, but one should not expect excessive comfort there. Hygiene was Indian standard. In India you put aside such excessive cleanliness anyway, so it wasn't a problem. What is very important: MOSQUITO SPRAY. There are fly screens there, but the mosquitoes are in the room and cannot get out. Also, it is quite difficult to relax when you are being molested by the beasts. If you had smeared yourself beforehand, it wasn't a problem at all, they leave you alone. What you should also consider are comfortable sports gear. Above all, the T-shirt can be closed a little longer and higher, as you stretch and twist yourself properly so that one or the other part of the body is exposed. You don't need sneakers, you're barefoot. Our teacher was very kind and understanding. Apparently he was used to "Westerners" by now. Classes were held in English. It was a little difficult to understand at the beginning, but the formulas keep repeating so that you could say it by heart at the end. "Now release, and relax. Try to normalize your breathing pattern. Inhale deeply, exhale completely. "

If you ask him about it, he will also write down the Sanskrit mantra that you will always say at the end. Don't worry, there are only four lines!

In the first hour we did a kind of strength training, as you know it with and, with jogging on the spot, squats, push-ups and so on, but in the second hour he already showed us the first asanas. After a relaxation and warm-up phase you usually go through different figures (at the beginning still easy things, for example the “palm tree”, later also more demanding ones, like the “sun salutation”), sometimes different breathing exercises, and there is always one at the end Relaxation exercise (where some of us fell asleep every now and then, no joke!). Of course, Om is always sung diligently. Your teacher always shows you everything and corrects you if you have not understood something.

Do not think, however, that yoga is not strenuous! You work up a sweat and can certainly lose a kilo or two in the process. But it is important that you do not have to do anything that you cannot or do not want. If one exercise is too difficult for you, just skip it and go back to the next one. But I think it can't hurt to try everything first, because you're able to do more than you think you can.

Whatever will be new from the next course, you will be on stage together with dancers and tabla players at the end of the course. The argument “I take yoga so I don't have to do anything” no longer counts. But don't worry, no one will tear your head off!

Meeting with Indian students

What should actually take place again (in an emergency you should just ask and push for it) is a day trip together with Indian students who are learning German. The Indian students are totally extroverted and open. And they like to sing. So it comes in handy when you can come up with a few German songs. In addition, I have made the experience that they are very happy when you join them on the excursion and actively approach them. I remember standing at the ghat in Pushkar. Barefoot I hop down the hot steps towards the water. All around me there were small groups of laughing, praying and taking photos. We too are quickly becoming photographic objects. The mood is relaxed and open and happy. Soon it will be time to move on. I stand hesitating for a few moments at the ghat, then suddenly I decide: I want to see the city with a group of Indian students, just go over to them, start the conversation, and whoosh! Everything so straightforward. It's really worth it. A day on which you can speak a mishmash of Hindi, English and German and learn a few words. And if it somehow works: exchange mobile phone numbers if you have bought an Indian card (which really makes a lot of sense! Definitely DO NOT use the German card, that is MUCH more expensive than you think !!) or e-mail addresses. Maybe you can make an appointment for a weekend day? The Indian students know Jaipur very well, of course, and know what to see and where to go. From my own experience I can only say: it is absolutely worth it!

As you can see: the leisure program is full to the brim. Unfortunately, you often have the feeling that it is too full and you wish for a little more time for yourself. But what to save on, the question is difficult.

Our accommodation: the Sumer Niwas

We had it well with our accommodation in Sumer Niwas: kiosks, internet cafés, restaurants, the Bazaar Raja Park, Birla Mandir and even a cute little bookstore very close by, and the central market in the city center was also within easy reach by rickshaw . So the infrastructure wasn't bad, but what I especially love about Sumer Niwas is the staff, above all the always good-humored Mohan - the ideal test subjects for your own Hindi experiments: the patience of angels, always helpful, and totally happy when you get through a few Hindi sentences tormented and actually tried to speak their language. And they understood fun too - and tearing jokes in Hindi is twice as much fun! Mohan in particular is up for everyone to have fun (not necessarily in front of his boss's dad, who also lives in the guesthouse) and also likes to invite you to watch and chat in the kitchen while cooking. The most important rule here: approach people. Actively try to get into conversation with them. Simply invite yourself to sit down and play a card game, for example. And really try to stick to Hindi as much as possible. Of course you can't get around one or the other English sentence. But don't use English for convenience. Also funny about the guesthouse: you meet the weirdest guests from all over the world. There was also a conversation in English with the Dutch or in French with the French.

A short word about food: you can choose when you want to eat in Sumer Niwas (besides breakfast): at noon or in the evening. I found dinner very convenient. This is particularly beneficial for the dancers when they come home completely starved and exhausted, only have to fall into the wicker chairs and the food is placed in front of their noses. Maybe arrange with the yoga people that they eat earlier before they starve. (At this point one more note from the yoga side. It wasn't so bad to wait for the dancers, and it might not be bad to eat together, to love them so that they don't always get the warmed up leftovers and also To love the staff so that they don't have to open and cover the table twice. Also, four hours before yoga you shouldn't eat anything or only light things, so it would be wiser to have dinner in the guest house and only get a little fruit at lunchtime pick up.)

The lesson

But now to the subject I'm writing about: the language course itself. Of course, it is clear that the success of the course depends first and foremost on you. Even the best teachers are of no use if you are not prepared to sit down despite the heat, despite the tiredness and despite your own displeasure, cramming vocabulary and diligently doing your homework. Nevertheless, one should not go to the course with completely exaggerated expectations: one can only learn so much in four weeks!

But why the course is definitely worth it: even if you don't learn a lot of new vocabulary or grammar, you still learn one thing, namely to speak much more fluently. Now it is the case that we often have very little time in class to engage in conversation, because so much material has to be dealt with. In Jaipur, on the other hand, you are in an environment that always positively motivates you to speak Hindi, you just have to get involved. And if you simply use some construction for the billionth time, then they sit (I just say ne-perfect ... up to “mai ne gaya”, oops!).

Yes, well, but now actually the lessons themselves. It starts at 9 a.m. and lasts until 12:30 p.m., divided into two lessons with a half-hour break in between, in which biscuits (Parle G mmhh !!) and chai are served.

There are different teachers who all use different teaching methods. One teacher places more emphasis on vocabulary, the other on grammar, a third prefers to have sentences produced and a fourth wants to have a lot of conversation, let us talk and motivate us to speak in general. Everyone gets along differently with the different teaching styles - what one likes may not appeal to the other and vice versa. Due to the very good mix, however, there is something for everyone.

The teachers are also very committed to providing us with good teaching material: all of them create exercise sheets themselves with texts for the lesson, vocabulary and exercises. Unfortunately, they are all a bit too exuberant, so that in the end you have a pile of leaves that you can no longer learn in full! In any case, the material is varied and interesting; sometimes a visit to the bazaar, sometimes something about life in the Indian countryside, sometimes the story of Holi. And with a few exceptions, the texts were all at our level and easy to understand.

Pretty much every day you get a homework assignment, which consists of producing your own texts: writing a story yourself, producing sentences with given words or even practicing a grammatical phenomenon. Never again do you get the chance to practice your own text production so often and always get the whole thing corrected. What is very useful for your own homework is a small English-Hindi dictionary. Highly recommended and so small that it fits in every pocket is the TeachYourself Dictionary English-Hindi, Hindi-English by Rupert Snell. Especially the English-Hindi part. Believe me: I had one with me and it always flew around the entire guesthouse in the afternoons;)

What is perhaps to be criticized about the lesson: Sometimes it was a bit disordered in that two teachers went through the same grammar, or grammar that we found too easy ourselves, omitted grammar that we would have liked to rehearse (e.g. Conditional sentences). However, it is the case that the teachers are extremely flexible: just take part in the design of your own curriculum and tell in advance what you would like to learn, then this deficiency should also be remedied.

The closing function

The final function is the crowning glory of the course. It is organized by the Indo-German Society in Jaipur and here you can show what you have learned in the four weeks in addition to your language course. All teachers and whoever else you have met in India will be there and you can spend a great evening. Especially great: if Ms. Lotz somehow manages, then she'll drop by in Jaipur and take part in the final function. And of course that is something particularly beautiful and great ... (Thank you Ms. Lotz for making it, we were all so happy!)

A few more words at the end

India is simply a country that has many rough edges. You really have to get involved in India if you want to learn to love it - and I am convinced that the summer course in Jaipur offers the best prerequisites for entering this "roller coaster relationship". So that the culture shock is as mild as possible.

If you have any other questions like: Frances, what was your favorite salwar kameez shop in Jaipur? Where should I NOT buy my cell phone card? Where's the bookstore? Where is the internet cafe? Where can I have passport photos taken (for example, you need a mobile phone card)? How was the camel tour in Jaisalmer? Hindi test dummies, what the hell do you mean by that? Then just send me an email: franziska.froehlich [at] gmx.net

You can also contact all other participants at any time. For example, almost all of the student council members have already been to Jaipur at different times. You can find the e-mail addresses on the student council page.

Oh, what else comes to mind: to be honest: much worse than the culture shock I suffered in India - far worse! - was the one I got when I came back to Germany ...

Written by Franziska Fröhlich with comments and additions by Lisa Reuter.