Yeah I'm one of those hopeless tam guys who cant speak hindi for nuts. Many of my colleagues still wonder how people in India wouldnt know Hindi. Well I only request them to travel down south. I'm sure there are many in Tamil Nadu who think Tamil is their national language :p.
Honesty first. Yes, Hindi was not encouraged and made compulsory in schools across Tamil Nadu and many failed to make it a point to learn when they could. I guess I've passed that age now and I find myself lingo challenged in the city of Hyderabad.
So every time someone talks to me in Hindi, I shoot the one statement I can speak fluently and deliver it neat:
"Mujhe hindi nahin maalum angraezee mein baat karo"
The real problem is when I talk to auto guys, barbers, shopkeepers. So in these situations, a passerby would think that either me or the shopkeeper is deaf and dumb. I try to interact with all sorts of hand signals.
1) Thumbs up and rocking up and down signifies "how much for the auto ride?"
2)Using two fingers in the shape of scissors and then keeping the thumb and two fingers parallel to it signifies "short haircut" to the barber. No wonder my hairstyle sucks ever since I left Chennai :(
People who go to hindi movies along with me have a tough time concentrating on the movie cuz I keep bugging them for the translation. In Chennai I used to watch thamizh and english movies only. Always felt that a North Indian girlfriend would ve been good to help my cause but i realized she would've dumped me the first time I took her to the movies.
Thamizh movies have always portrayed tams as hindi challenged blokes. The most famous one was an old Bhagyaraj movie where the hero tries to learn Hindi from an old man just to gain entry into his house and hit on his beautiful grand-daughter.
The old man says "Ek gaon main ek kisaan raha tha thaaa"
Hero says"Ek Gaon main ek kisaan ragu thatha"
Old man stresses "Raha tha thaaaaaaaa"
Hero: " Raggu thathaaaaaaa"
Another famous scene is a comedian fooling a girl saying he knows hindi and takes her into the fields, hoping for some romance. The girl asks him "how to say 'come here' in Hindi?"
Comedian: "idhar aaoooooooooo"
The impressed girl then asks him "how do you say 'go there' in Hindi"?
(pointing her finger to a tree )
Comedian thinks for a while, walks a few metres away from the girl, reaches the tree, turns back and says "idhar aaoooooooo"!!!
Personally, I regret not knowing Hindi and Im making a genuine effort to learn the language. Im the blacksheep of my family. Everybody speaks hindi well though my sister proved to us all that after she hit the USA she lost touch on hindi.
My cousin married a Gujju and during the wedding at Surat, a Gujarathi lady was searching for the bride and my cousin. Apparently that woman knew only Gujarathi and little hindi. She mentioned to my sister "kahan something dulha aur dulhan...woh dhono thoda something baat karne chahiye"
My sister came running and asked if these Gujjus had awesome customs during weddings. She thought that "dulha" has to take bath with "dulhan" then, and they were missing. LOL.
We were in splits then and I had some consolation that I wasnt the only one in the family ;)
Someday in my life, Im sure I will learn hindi. I havent given up as yet. But till then I'll have to manage with this hand signs "talent" and survive in Hyderabad. When I hit Chennai I dont have to worry. In fact even if it is Hindi I know way too much compared to the common junta. And after all, "अन्धों में काना राजा " ;)
(Translation for all you hindi challenged blokes(LOL): Among a set of blind people, the one-eyed guy is the king)