Updated: November 4, 2015 4:20:29 pm
In 2007, 15-year-old Ravi Kumar Chikhaliya — a souvenir seller in Mumbai’s Hanging Gardens — garnered instant fame when he was featured in a Youtube video. His claim to fame? He could fluently speak 10 languages without “formal training”. Eight years later, and Chikhaliya still calls himself famous in interviews and even while selling his wares.
Chikhaliya’s ‘linguistic prowess’ extends to English, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Iranian languages. But, mind you, don’t think you can hold an entire conversation with him. His is a very profession skill — which means that he can say the same thing (selling souvenirs such as a peacock feather fan) in all these languages, and that’s it. As amazing as it is to see and hear, this is not a new phenomenon. Indian tourist spots are teeming with such kids make their souvenir pitch to tourists and foreigners in their language. They pick up words and phrases from their customers and then use them on others. Even other guides and vendors speak different languages because such places attract tourists from around the world, and learning their language is a great way to make a sale.
Now 23, Ravi still sells peacock fans with his grandmother in Hanging Gardens and is happy that people know about him because of the internet.
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