METRO PLUS

They do the talking

The translation team

The translation team  

THE AFRO-ASIAN Games could well have become a re-enactment of the Tower of Babel fiasco if not for this band of youngsters, who help bridge the communication divide.

Each of them wears a tag of interpreter and this has become a welcome sign for many of the visiting sportspersons, delegates and officials. The convenors are G. Kamal Vardhan Rao and Manohar Prasad, who oversee the entire operation that spreads across the areas of transport, hospitality, accreditation, media and even airport reception. Most importantly, they have been assigned to all the stadia staging the games and the Afro-Asian Games Secretariat.

The languages they help translate are Arabic, French, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Persian. The central figures of the team, consisting of 70 interpreters, are Vincent Vinay Kumar and Prof. Veena Sridhar. Vincent, a former captain of the Andhra Ranji cricket team here, holds the designation of Member, HRD. The energetic bunch working with them has been drawn from the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (CIEFL), Alliance Francaise, Ramakrishna Math, the Asa Bhanu Japan Centre, besides various colleges from the twin cities and from a pool of foreigners in the city. The group consists of professors and students, who initially did not warm up to the idea when the advertisements went out for interpreters.

The Afro-Asian Games Secretariat

The Afro-Asian Games Secretariat  

Now their need is being felt more, both by the administrators and the tourists, the increasing demand being for French and Arabic interpreters. Queries and requests from the visitors are varied. For instance, one of them asked Shreeya Potiah whether bindis were sported only by married women. A Nigerian weightlifter asked Prof. Sridhar for Sunny Deol's phone number, while an Egyptian asked Jahangir in Arabic about Amitabh Bachchan, whose movies he had seen. Chakrapani, a French interpreter, found most queries pertaining to accommodation. Some wanted forms filled up.

Deepa Radhakrishnan was asked about discotheques by a Kenyan and Abdul Azeez was quizzed by an Egyptian about the jewellery of the twin cities. Prof. Sridhar was asked also about the web sites offering information on Andhra Pradesh and India. Avinash Pandu of South Africa wanted to know in flawless French about special hair cuts and Dheeraj Gangji had the answers. At other times, these interpreters double up as facilitators as well. One sportsperson from Seychelles lost her baggage, which was conveyed by an interpreter to the concerned help desk. The joy of the visitor from the islands in the Indian Ocean knew no bounds when her belongings were traced.

Many of the foreigners stationed in the twin cities or visiting, have also enthusiastically come forward to do their bit. One of them is Shreeya, a native of Mauritius, who's on a scholarship and pursuing a bachelor's degree in communication at the Women's College, Koti. Adrien De Visscher of Belgium is in the country for four months and the city for three weeks and has chosen to contribute to the cause with his knowledge of French. They are now on call round the clock virtually, since some flights arrive at unearthly hours. Vincent finds the going tough at times but rewarding as well. One remark made by an athlete to Prof. Sridhar summed up the mood of the community. "Our stay shouldn't just be happy but fetch medals too."

A. JOSEPH ANTONY

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