Shuddh desi romance

Updated: May 26, 2019, 07:28 IST | Prutha Bhosle

The Ambassador for Poland to India, who first visited the country as a 20-year-old, shares an enduring love for Hindi language, Lata Mangeshkar and Indian cinema

Shuddh desi romance
Adam Burakowski drives a mean bargain by striking conversations in Hindi with everyone, from autowallahs to vegetable seller

Living several months in a country where you do not speak the language, or speak it poorly, is without a doubt a tough act. Add to it a job that demands that you maintain and promote bilateral relations between the two countries. But, while most ambassadors are seen caught up during trade promotions and signing of agreements, Adam Burakowski is occasionally spotted on Delhi streets, striking a conversation with the locals. And the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan, has his Hindi skills to thank for this.

Burakowski began his love affair with Hindi more than 20 years ago. "I visited India for the first time in 1997. As a 20-year-old, I came as a tourist, and it was a fresh experience for me; all these colours, songs and the sun. India at its best," Burakowski, now 42 years old, recalls. While he also speaks Romanian and Russian and is always trying to understand other cultures, he says he was truly smitten by Hindi music.

"I like Indian art, music and cinema. I have been listening to Hindi music every day for more than 20 years. My favourite singer has always been Lata Mangeshkar," he shares. Burakowski, who took charge of the embassy of the Republic of Poland in New Delhi in December 2017, adds, "About a year ago, however, I discovered Dr Rajkumar and his Kannada songs. And I have to admit, that maybe he was even better than Lata. Although I do not understand the language, I enjoy his songs."

Adam Burakowski. Pics/Nishad Alam
Adam Burakowski. Pics/Nishad Alam

A graduate of the Maharaja Jam Saheb Digvijay Sinhji High School in Warsaw, the first Hindi word that Burakowski came across two decades ago was pani. "Not many know this but pani in Polish language means lady. The pronunciation, however, is slightly different," he says, adding how reading Dainik Jagran supplements online eventually helped him improve his Hindi. "Around 2002, I started accessing Dainik Jagran newspaper online and that really helped me. I also started watching movies, reading books and even talking to people in Hindi," he informs.

However, it was difficult to find Hindi speakers in his hometown Warsaw, the capital of Poland. "Finally when I was posted in India in 2017, I could flaunt my skills," he shares, laughing. When asked how knowing the language helps him get through the day at work, he explains, "It helps understand India better. It also gives your interlocutor a message that you spent some time studying the culture of India, that you have respect for it. Also — and this might be the best recommendation — it opens some doors that without Hindi might remain closed. For example, I host Bollywood parties for my Indian friends here; and they enjoy conversing with me in Hindi."

But Burakowski feels he still has a long way to go. "I sometimes confuse conditional with future tense. And I have a constant problem with 'sawaal' and 'jawaab'. I never remember which one is the question and which one is the answer," says the polyglot. Married with four children, when asked for his favourite Hindi word, Burakowski gave us two. "My wife's name is Agnieszka, which is a very common name in Poland. But if you read it in Hindi, it contains the words agni and ishq. And they are my favourites."

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