11/07/2013 11:32 am ET

Arabic in Arabia

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart" -- Nelson Mandela

I have always believed in the above quote. When you can converse with someone in their mother tongue, the connection you forge is for a lifetime. You bond with them at the core of their being.

Therefore, I decided to study Arabic, as I am still on this land of perfumes, oil, malls and more. I did this so that I could understand the culture better, connect with the people of Arabia, be valuable at work, and tell tales that very few ever can.

I feel privileged to be given this opportunity to explore this territory so early on. Arabic is so foreign to me, and yet it is not. Thanks to my Indian heritage, I was able to make a connection with the language in my first few classes. Certain words and the long and short vowels of Arabic made it home with me. Being fluent in Hindi, and having a basic understanding of Urdu, and Sanskrit, I have been able to bridge the gap quickly and efficiently. However, I do worry sometimes, if I will forget or get confused with all the languages I have now stored in my brain.
Nevertheless, I know worry is futile and, if I keep using my language skills, I will be okay, as our minds are elastic.

Marhabba, Salam Walikum, Shuu ismk?, Inte min ween?, Tsharrafna, Shukraan, Ma Salam, are enough to break ice with anyone from Arabia, as long as it is done with confidence and poise.

From this language learning exercise, I have understood that we can re-wire our brains to think and act as we like. We write Arabic right to left, which is contrary to all the languages I have ever learned. The written form of Arabic and, the variation it brings, keeps us on our toes. One can never get complacent.

It also dawned on me that we are really never too old to pick up anything new or change things. I also found that our brains become highly active and receptive once we try to engage ourselves in a not-so-routine way. I feel like a six-year-old on the Dubai metro trying to identify my letters, so that I can join them to make a full word. Yesterday I was able to identify the "E" and the "A" in Etisalat, and my joy seemed to have no bounds. I told everyone I knew, how great it felt just to identify some foreign letters. It was a flashback in time when I really was six, and I was learning English, and Hindi.

Learning a new language makes one feel so alive, and adventurous. It is safe, and yet gets the adrenaline rushing. What effect some people have after jumping off a plane, I get the same effect venturing out in foreign land and immersing myself in that culture, tradition and language. Some of my class sessions have been hilarious. It almost seems like I am living the sitcom: "Mind your language", except the only difference here is that we learn "Arabic" instead of English.

The magical world of Arabia has just begun to reveal itself. It is by far the most magnetic place I have ever lived in. Once you are on it, you stay in it.