Here's a quick test to tell if you're an optimist. If you head to a
bookstore's reference section and see a row of thin language books with
titles like "Learn Tamil in a Month," "Learn Tamil Through English,"
"Urdu for Dummies," and "Read Hindi Script Just Like That," do you
think to yourself, "well, four weeks is a pretty long time, I'm sure
I'll learn how to say lots of stuff by then"? (We already have the
classic "Learn Kannada Through English," and it hasn't taught me a
thing just sitting there on the shelf. All the same, I had to get a
couple more of these language guides.)
The reason for the current bookstore expedition was our upcoming
departure from Bangalore. Next Monday, we leave for two whole months.
For three weeks, we'll be in Chennai (the former Madras, where Tamil is
the main language), then we're going on vacation, and then we're going
to Delhi for month. And then back to Bangalore.
My (I hope realistic) goals are to learn a few basic Tamil phrases, and
also be able to read and say a few things in Hindi. My success with
Kannada has been poor, but I'll do my best with these two other