“apni bangla bolte paren?”

Here I was, returning from a work meeting in Essen in Germany. Back to Amsterdam in a Deutsch Bahn ICE train. I was sitting in a four seater coup with a table in between flanked by two seats on either side. I was on the window seat and there was a caucasian guy seated diagonally opposite me working on his laptop. Seemed like a german fellow, clad in his business suit, tie and all, rimless glasses, strong jawline.

I got a phone call from a fellow colleague in India and I spoke for a few minutes in bengali before hanging up.

The guy in front of me was looking at me – ohhh damn, was I too loud? I was just about to apologise when he smiled and said “apni bangla bolte paren?”

Was I really hearing it right? I was so shocked with that coming from a german person and that too in perfect diction. I couldn’t really reply for some time. He had been in Bangladesh a few years back on a consultancy job I learned. It had stretched on and off for a year and he had ended up picking up the language. And he had actually liked it so much that he still remembered quite some of it even after coming back.

He asked me how long I had been in the Netherlands

“almost 4 years”

Do you speak any dutch?

“Een beetje” (only a little) I replied embarrassed

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