Where did you get that accent?

Accents are really funny things.  Even a small country like England will have very different accents depending on whether you come from the South, close to London or up in the Midlands.

Canada is the same – especially with the Maritimes.  When I first came to Canada I kept asking people if they came from Ireland.  They were puzzled and replied “No – I come from Newfoundland.”  Well – they sounded very Irish to me!
newfie joke

Sometimes however accents can really surprise you.  I was strolling around the market in Jodhpur, India a couple of years ago.  Narrow lanes filled with people, noises, smells, shouting and yet somehow a harmony throughout the whole thing.

Jodphur market 2

Naturally being a group of North American tourists we were prime targets for wily salespeople and after a week or so in India we were all becoming a bit immune to this.  But then I was approached by a young girl with literally hundreds of bead necklaces offering a handful of these for a few rupees – next to nothing in our money.   She had such a sweet smile and although the other ladies in our group waved her away with a smile I weakened and looked at her beads.  They were rather pretty.  A lot like many of the African beads that would be sold in the markets of Swaziland where I had made my home before coming to Canada.  So therefore they were not a novelty to me. But she was persistent and kept smiling.

Then she starting speaking and I stopped in my tracks.  My goodness me – was that a tinge of Yorkshire accent that I was detecting?  Or could it be Manchester?  How very strange!

“Where are you from?” I asked – which was a bit of a stupid question seeing as she was selling beads in a market in Jodhpur dressed in a kurti.  Really Lesley – sometimes I wonder.

But she gave me a dimpled smile and said (with that characteristic Indian head bobble) “I come from right here in Jodhpur, Ma’am”.

But I wasn’t satisfied and wanted to dig further.  I asked her if she had ever been to England – no she hadn’t.  Perhaps she had an English teacher at school.  She had never been to school (broke my heart).  Eventually I asked her who had taught her to speak English as I thought this would give me a clue.

“Why, Ma’am,” she answered laughing “I learnt as a small child from speaking to the tourists”.  Well I never.  Bright as a button and never a day’s schooling.  What a shame.

I happily handed over a bunch of rupees and in return received 10 bead necklaces and then 2 extra because I was “so kind”.  I still wear them today and often think of this merry little girl and hope she is able to make a future for herself.  She deserves it.
jodphur bead girl

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. Great story. Having worked in India (Mumbai), just remember to negotiate because it is expected but only if you intend to buy and then don’t be too cheap as a few cents or dollars won’t much or any difference to your life but can really help these people.


    1. I agree Hugh – it is expected that you should negotiate but I must confess I always feel mean doing that. In a way it is courteous however and if you are not too cheap then everyone ends up happy.


  2. Loved your story! The World is full of interesting places to visit, accents…….and definitely new friends!


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