‘haa’ = ‘yes’ in bihar. despite what i wrote previously, this is a dangerous word, in both directions. on the one hand, the indian people are generally so obliging that they don’t want to disappoint you… which means they will inevitably answer ‘yes’ to most any question if they don’t completely understand it. what this means is that you MUST phrase questions specifically, i.e. ‘WHICH way to simraha?’ rather than ‘IS this the way to simraha?’ because if you ask the latter, they will must likely respond with a ‘haa,’ even if it ISN’T.
this realization occurred to me some time ago, and got me briefly lost.
but the danger of ‘haa’ works both ways, as i now know. i tend to say ‘haa’ a lot… or ‘ti ke’ which is like ‘okay.’ they are pleasant, generally affirmative things to say… but beware if you don’t know exactly what you are responding to… in this manner i was forced to consume 3 bananas in quick succession the other day while sitting on the train tracks (i ate the one, enjoyed it, and then answered ‘haa’ to what was apparently ‘will you eat two more right now?’). and today i became engaged, when i answered ‘haa’ to, so i gather, a proposal of marriage. it was in the street… on the way back from kishori mandal… a man pulled over on a motorbike and said something to me (which is usually along the lines of ‘visiting?’ or ‘having a nice walk?’ or what have you, to which ‘haa’ is most often an appropriate knee-jerk response). but after i said it, he leaned into the street and yelled, ‘i husband, she indian wife!’ and looked very pleased with himself. a child clapped. the nearby goat didn’t bat an eye.
our engagement was, needless to say, a short one. i broke it off by walking into a shop to buy 8 eggs. the wallah gave me 9 instead. i considered it an engagement gift and i’m not returning it.