Even if he hasn’t, he’s putting it into practice anyway. “Hum aapke ummedon par khara utrne ka pura prayas karenge,” (We will try our best to live up to your expectations) said skipper Dravid to thunderous cheers from a sizeable gathering of the Rajasthan Royals on Saturday.
Unfortunately, the continual applause drowned much of the other heavy-duty Hindi words he used liberally in his speech.
One would, of course, expect Dravid to be able to speak Hindi well. What was surprising though was his choice of words, perfect diction and fluency, normally expected of someone who speaks the language on a daily basis.
“It’s surprising, for he struggles even to speak Kannada on formal occasions. He barely utters a few words before switching to English,” said a Bangalore-based journalist.
A Royals official, however, said: “He makes a conscious effort to speak in Hindi."
Maybe, the idea to communicate better with players from the Hindi heartland — Royals have a few of them in their ranks — encouraged him to polish his Hindi.
While Dravid’s words were still resonating in one’s head, it was time for another Royals player to spring a surprise.
Asked if he had picked up Hindi words from his teammates, England batsman Owais Shah, surprised everyone by breaking into fluent Hindi.
“Mujhe Hindi aati hai, aap mujhse koi bhi sawal poochiye, mein Hindi mein jawab doonga.” (I can speak Hindi…you ask me any question, I will reply in Hindi).
And before anyone realised, Shah was chatting away in Hindi with ease.
And lest one branded him a genius with languages for picking up the local lingo in a matter of months, Shah explained: “I was born in Pakistan. There isn’t much difference in Hindi and Urdu, so I don’t find it difficult to speak and understand the language.”