Tales from the Field Contd.. Hindi Dreams

-Stephen Christopher, PhD Student in Anthropology

Steven with some new friends in IndiaThis summer I dreamed in Hindi. Dreams as surreal as Dali’s Andalusian Dog and as heteroglossic as anything Bakhtin could theorize. You know you’re getting somewhere with language when a Hindi succubus seeds you with subterranean linguistic confusion. I awake, I think, which language? Who am I apart from English? A summer staying close to that question: Who is the non-English-speaking me? To that end I took the name Heeralal (heera = diamond; lal = red), and constructed my Hindi self around its rustic associations. I picked the name randomly from a list of rickshaw-wallahs, but find it fits nicely. This summer I became a red diamond.

What other language program can transform an opaque English-speaking PhD student into a translucent Hindispeaking gemstone? I left in May a pudgy intellect and by August I was the hardest material in the natural world.