Maira kwahish seekhna … maira safar samajna [My wish to learn … my journey to understand].

As a wife of a Muslim man,
I feel that I should be quite versed in the Quran.
(confession) I tried reading it once and did not get very far. I just could not understand most of it and was looking for the “practical application part.”
But, in order for me to help and encourage him to be an upstanding Muslim, I can’t take this faith journey lightly.
But, i am digressing… … (more on that later)

The same goes for his Pakistani heritage.
Most of the time, when we are at home, he speaks Urdu. He talks to family in Pindi, his sister in Illinois and his friend at Purdue — all in Urdu.
I will mention in passing that I am more than slightly annoyed that while he speaks Urdu at least three hours a day, regularly, his teaching moments are far less frequent, far less time intensive and are done with far less enthusiasm.
“Main sach say boolt rahi hoon.” “i am speaking the truth.”
It is essential that I learn – with or without his help.
I have already felt excluded from conversations on skype Yet, I feel too much like a millstone around the neck when I have to constantly request him to translate.
So, if “I” want things to be better, then, I need to continue to strive for such things: even if he is “bohat masroof, “Bohat Nidhal,” or ( just too lazy ) and enjoys speaking it much more than actually “teaching it.”

In order for me to tackle this task, I need to understand the challenges and where I have failed in the past.
One of the problems with learning urdu is that I have not found a good course. So, I take the best from all of them…. … or at least try.
But, no one writes Roman urdu the same. My screenreader can not read Urdu script and any literature must be read via computer. .
For example:
“Nila,” “Neela,” and “niila,” are all the same word.
“Phool,” “Phhoul,” or any combination of “ph” or “phh” preceeding “ul,” “ool” “oul” “uul” are used for the same word. And, to complicate things, because everyone uses their own spellings, my screen reader (which is speaking the urdu) reads the word differently.
I can get use to the mispronunciation, if it is a constant; such as “ahmed.” My screenreader always pronounces “Ahmed,” with the “a” found in “ALL,” not the “a” found in “AM.” But, since it always pronounces it this way, I can get used to it.Yet, if Flower in urdu is spelled tons of ways and thus, is pronounced a myriad of ways, then, I have a double problem on my hands.
I choose not to deal with it at this point. While I “do” write urdu for my own learning, I try to speak more than I write. So, this is why I must stick to conversation. Besides, it is highly unlikely that I will be reading much Urdu Braille.
Yet, lessons that focus on conversation seem to focus on memorizing phrases. And, that does not help me transfer many skills to expand my conversation.

SO: I am finding anyone that I can to help me learn. Ultimately, it would be nice to find an aging English teacher who can speak both urdu and English. Maybe I could find a circle of women who would take turns helping me speak the language. I need to find a variety of speaking partners. I don’t think that one partner can give me theconstant help that I need. I have tried finding “urdu teachers,” on various language learning sites. This, too has always failed. This was due to such factors as: time, skill, knowledge, my inflexibility with the written word, their patience and probably both of our people skills. I thought about taking an Urdu course, but the closest university that offers a course is 2hours away and I get off of work and get home by … (between 5:30—7:00). Remember, I don’t drive. I’m going to have to find unconventional ways to learn. Any suggestions?? Being desperate: I am making a flyer and going to try to post it in such places as “the Indian Center,” and a few Indian Grocery stores in the area.
But, I can only write Roman Urdu and can’t (don’t know how to) use my computer to make urdu script, nor do i know how to spell the words in Urdu script. I have thought about one of those translation software programs so that i can write in the Roman letters and they be translated to Urdu, or i could write in each English word and have it translated into Urdu script.
But, i’ll probably just hope someone can read roman Urdu.
***Corrections are seen as constructive criticism and are appreciated in advance!!


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8 Responses to “Maira kwahish seekhna … maira safar samajna [My wish to learn … my journey to understand].”

  1. luckyfatima Says:
  2. Roshni Says:

    Hmm; interesting! I wrote a whole post about how I learned Urdu and the challenges; my advice, given your current situation would be to listen to as much Urdu as you can; TV, Radio, audio books and so on. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand every thing, you will pick up on the words and slowly start to put them together, make sounds and get used to them; subconsciously, you’ll be absorbing more than you realise!
    There are plenty of blind People in Pakistan who are sadly not engaged with work etc, and I’m sure one of them would be willing to give you some learning support via skype or voice mails, perhaps your husband could source some one to help. The BBC have quite a few ‘teach yourself Urdu learning packs, most have books and CDs but even the CDs on their own will help you; I used them back in the day, and with all my international shifting have no idea where they are; but if I can put a hand on them, they are yours!
    Sorry I can’t be of more help; but the Gori wife and Lucky Fatima are legends in Urdu; I’m sure they’ll have more tips to add!

  3. jamily5 Says:

    I’ll start emailing you Lucky Fatima and try to set up a time (regular time) for Urdu.
    I just mentioned the “aged,” part because the woman might have more time: (less to give to children and maybe not working). But, a young Urdu teacher is also WONDERFUL!!!!
    Roshni, good suggestions!
    The problem is that:
    Pakistani women are not on skype that much and the guys, well, you never know their motives.
    I do have the “teach yourself Urdu,” audio cd, but I can’t break it apart to actually learn it.
    Do you know of other CDs that are better?
    I actually do like the Pemsleur’s structure, but was afraid to learn Hindi because I am not sure how close to Urdu it would be in conversation.
    DH could probably find me the audio pemsleur Hindi course.
    I try to listen to programs like: “Sach ka safar,” (which I would really like, if I could understand it), but I just can’t follow it.
    I found some songs that I like:
    [kind of Western in their melodies, etc; but in Urdu].
    I try to sing the lyrics, even though I probably get the words wrong.
    Back in his romantic stage, DH translated and transcribed a couple of them for me.
    I do try to practice them.
    I’ll start listening again. I have thought about the kids’ CDs, but I am afraid to buy something and then find out that there are lots of pictures / visual learning/ involved and I have wasted my money!!!

    Thanks Thanks Thanks for all of your help!!!!

  4. jamily5 Says:

    Oh, Roshni,
    I’ll pay for any CDs.

  5. Roshni Says:

    I can’t think of any CDs that are better, but I’ll ask around and do a bit of research on it!
    There is a woman I met in Karachi who was blind and a school teacher, her name was Shazia and I think your husband may know her as she’s quite a famous figure in the movement, I think she would be able to help you as her Urdu is extremely good, being from a family of shires and the like. Listening to songs and TV shows is still useful! Understanding shouldn’t be your main priority right now! Just copy the words and get comfortable with sounds in your head; you do actually pick up allot this way! I do it with Farsi as I’ve no formal teacher; I practise the words, try them out on my husband and in-laws and somewhere along the line I realise I’ve got quite allot of vocabulary!
    I know it seems your other half is really busy and stuff, but even if he committed to teaching you one new word every day, even with that its amazing how much you will be learning!

  6. ammena Says:

    🙂 have you tried livemocha?? the urdu might not be at your level.. but they do have it 😉 and its free 😀

  7. luckyfatima Says:

    Hi Jamily5, Would you mind deleting my email address from above now that we are in touch? Just for privacy and all. Thanks. I can’t wait to chat with you!

  8. jamily5 Says:

    Hi Amina,
    I have tried livemocha.
    I can make my own flash cards and quiz myself.
    I don’t know why the audio portion won’t work and somehow, I can’t read the lessons. I don’t know if they are an uploaded image or what.
    But, I have tried with different computers.
    I critique everyone else’s english, but have minimal success.
    Yet, I still try to make flash cards.
    Last week, on the way home, I made DH play the alphabet game with me.
    OK, it was not the Urdu alphabet because I would need to learn Urdu braille and I am trying to concentrate on the conversation part.
    It will be the most prominent when I go.
    “I’m going to the store and I’m buying:
    Aloo, Badam, chole, Dhud, …”
    I’ll keep trying though. I can learn verbs and body parts that way. Then, need a new way to help me use my vocab so that I don’t lose it.
    Then, DH says today:
    “Hmmm, you should probably learn some slang.”
    (Yeah, right).

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