Sign up for a fun beginners' workshop on Mandarin

Nov 03, 2017, 09:00 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani

Attend this fun beginners' workshop on Mandarin at a bar, of all places. And no, it's not as difficult as you think

Ten years ago, talk of Mumbai being the next Shanghai and the GDP wars between India and China piqued former journalist Nazia Vasi's interest in the far-eastern country. This resulted in Vasi heading to Shanghai to study and work for three years. While there, she learnt Mandarin and noticed the similarities between the two political rivals. "While I was studying, working and interacting with the Chinese, I realised that there are several common links — our ancient cultures, civilisation and history; Buddhism; the way people think and react; and close ties and education being important in middle-class families. Since there is lack of communication between the two countries, we don't know much about China. Our culture shares a lot of similarities with that of our neighbour," says Vasi.

Mandarin is spoken by over 800 million people around the world
Mandarin is spoken by over 800 million people around the world

That's what made her start Inchin Closer in Mumbai in 2010, a platform for Indians and Chinese to communicate. The bridging of this communication gap will build a sense of trust, she believes. Vasi, who has been teaching the language for seven years, is just back from a trip to Shanghai, this time from an immersion programme with her students. "If you have learnt a language in a country it doesn't belong to, to be able to speak it easily and correctly in its native country is difficult. But the students managed it perfectly," she tells us. Vasi will now conduct a one-day workshop for beginners, where participants can learn how to introduce themselves and learn numbers so they can bargain in Mandarin.

Students of the institute celebrating Chinese New Year with a Chinese  family from Mumbai
Students of the institute celebrating Chinese New Year with a Chinese family from Mumbai

"We will also sing karaoke, as it is the best way to learn another language. The words on the screen will be in Piyin [China's formal system to write their language in English]. This will help them get their pronunciations right. We will also learn Chinese calligraphy. A game of numbers will further test what you learn." Vasi feels that it is a myth that Mandarin in difficult to learn.

Nazia Vasi, founder of Inchin Closer
Nazia Vasi, founder of Inchin Closer

"It has no grammar. It's a logical language, and unlike English, it does not have any exceptions and complications. It's easy to pick up at any age," she tells us. While Mandarin does have tenses, the verbs do not conjugate. For example, I go, I will go and I went are all the same in Mandarin. And though there are more than 10,000 characters in the script, you just need to know about 300 to be able to read a newspaper. "Not everybody in China knows all 10,000. Once you have the basic sense to read and write, it comes to you easily," Vasi signs off.

ON: November 4 ( 2 pm to 7 pm, Doolally, Khar), November 5 (11 am to 4 pm, Doolally, Colaba)
LOG ON TO: doolally.in/events
COST: Rs 3,500

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