Monday, July 11, 2011

Hindi Word Highlight: Pani (पानी)

Translation: Water
Pronunciation: PAHnee

Waiting on my desk every morning when I arrive at work is a bottle of pani, chilled. Welcome to an Indian NGO office, where no one blinks an eye when the internet cuts out for hours but my desk gets table service.

Adjusting to office culture in India has been an adventure. On my third day, I went to make myself some tea in the kitchen. As I'm filling the electric kettle with water, one of the office helpers runs in. "You are wanting tea?" He takes the kettle from me. He boils the water, pours it, steeps the tea, adds the sugar and milk, stirs it...all while I stand there awkwardly trying to figure out what the hell to do with myself. Do I go back to my desk? Wait? I haven't reached chit chat level in Hindi yet. I settle on standing there with an awkward smile, moving my hands from my pockets to my hips and back again.

When I asked the admin assistant if I wasn't supposed to make my own tea, she said "Oh, you can or he can. I'll just tell him to ask you all day if you want some."

The issue remains unclear to me.

Week 2 starts today. I have a 5 page summary report due on Wednesday, so it'll be a busy one!


  1. Haha, looking forward to hearing if he starts tomorrow off by asking you if you want tea and continuing throughout the day ;)

  2. On that school trip I took where we visited a lot of companies, I remember thinking how odd it was that there was always some "helper" type person running around bringing us water & cookies. And the regular office workers barely would even look at them. Fun times :-)