The Sugarless Tea and the two valuable lessons
Last October I was in Chennai, India with my father, for his routine eye check-up. One evening I along with my dad and his close friend went to a restaurant, we had our dinner, and my father asked me to order tea for him and his friend.
The waiter came, and I asked him to bring one tea with sugar and one sugarless tea. A few minutes later the waiter, a young guy from North-East India brought us the Tea. And when my father sipped his tea, he was confused and asked the waiter if he had mistakenly added sugar to his tea.
The waiter innocently answered “Sir, I did what you told me to do. I brought 1 sugarless tea.”
I replied, “That’s what I asked you to bring, sugarless tea, tea without any sugar.”
The waiter at this point was confused and asked what does sugar-less mean?
It was clear, he didn’t understand English. His understanding of English was different from the Standard English. He did the same mistake hundreds of people do each day.
He translated the word “Sugar-less” word by word in his native language, Hindi.
Sugar = Shakar
Less = Kam
Translated as “Less Sugar.”
So when I ordered Sugarless tea, he thought that I meant I wanted less sugar in my father’s tea. Hence he made the mistake of adding less sugar to the tea.
Why was it such a big issue for me?
It was just a little sugar in the tea and my father; although he is Diabetic a little sugar wouldn’t hurt him.
But it did trouble me for a long time. And you can see that I ended up writing a lengthy article about the fateful Sugar-Less tea.
Why is this incident worth observing?
Well, being an aspiring writer I must have the best listening and speaking skills. This little incident clearly explains that I failed at being a good speaker.
And most of all, a writer must be equipped to understand his audience and write/speak according to the understanding of his audience.
I have learned two important things from this incident and today I am going to share those two valuable lessons.
- As a writer, I need to be aware of my audience and must be able to make my audience understand the message I want to convey.
- People speak different languages, and when they try to learn English, they try to bring the grammar of their mother tongue in their English and in turn messing up the complete meaning.
Well, that’s enough for today. In the next post, I will write about Understanding your audience and how to deliver your message in a clear and concise manner.
And if you have any questions, doubts, and ideas to share, please feel free to ask in the comments section below.