? After her debut album, Ashanti , was released, she said something along these lines: “I know in Indian, Ashanti means war.” Ashanti
OK, “In Indian”? I laughed then. But I thought a bit about it and I’m not sure about it now. There are many Indian languages, but there are so many violent things they’ve done to the English language between them that – I submit – there is a new language called Indian, all right.
This language takes English words and gives them all new meanings, some of which have never been dreamt of before…
Let me try a few examples. This is far from a complete list, and those who can are welcome to add more to this little glossary (of course this is a generalisation, and any individual might be able to claim he/she does not do any such thing. But as a generalisation, it holds):
A billion people’s expectations: See below, “National Religion.”
Amreeka: If you are a North Indian, this means any place abroad, anywhere in the world, except
(of which see below). Pakistan
Arranged marriage.: the usual Indian marriage. What you should think whenever you hear the word “marriage”. In the average “arranged marriage” the bride and groom have either never met or met very seldom under strictly supervised circumstances. Usually associated with “early decent marriage” (see below).
Big B: A conniving, political, has-been movie actor and failed politician now using his connections to illegally acquire farm land.
Bollywood: The Hindi film industry. If you watch this you will believe that there is just one type of Indian who behaves in just one way. You will also believe that all Indians spend much of their time sitting in temples swaying from side to side and clapping their hands in a most bizarre fashion, while they aren’t singing at each other in
Boy/girl: Any unmarried person, even if fifty years of age, in the language of matrimonial ads.
Bribe: the oil that lubricates everything in
, in the public or private sector. The only way things get done around here. India
Caste: Something that divides the “mainstream” Indian, especially in the North and South, into almost different species who either do not interact or do so in conditions that require then to behave as if they belong to different species.
Child marriage: The usual North Indian rural practice of getting children “married” to each other well before they reach puberty.
Compromise: What the police generally force poor people at the receiving end of criminal activity at the hands of their social superiors to do. Also used by police as a synonym for forcing women who have been raped to drop all charges in return for a token “compensation” or for marrying the rapist, even if he should be already legally married.
Convent educated: Educated in any institution where the English language is the medium of instruction. Usually not a convent or anything to do with a convent.
Corruption: It no longer exists. When everyone is on the take, there is no such thing as “corruption” any longer.
Cricket: See below, “national religion”.
Democracy: What Indians love to pretend they have. Usually associated with the term “Largest democracy” and is a synonym for licensing a particular set of politicians to loot us for the next several years.
Dowry: See “early decent marriage.” Also called “tradition.”
Dowry Death: Murder of one’s bride or one’s son’s bride so as to get one’s revenge for inadequate dowry.
Dynasty: The process of putting one’s offspring in charge of the family business. See below, “Political Party”.
Early Decent Marriage: In matrimonial advertisements, this is a code for “willing to pay dowry” or “ready to pay any amount to get my daughter off my hands.”
Election: The process of selecting a new set of criminals to rule the people for the next term, theoretically of five years but rarely so in practice.
Encounter: The process of being murdered by the police or army in illegal extrajudicial shootings, after which you are proclaimed to have been either a terrorist or having been “caught in a crossfire.” Also used as a verb, e.g. “He was encountered.”
Eve Teasing: Harrassment of a woman or girl. Something boys do. Utterly understandable. Boys will be boys.
Fellow: The second-to-ultimate abuse in South Indian English, e.g. “You useless fellow”.
Foreign Policy: Kowtowing to
by reflex action. America
Fukker: The ultimate abuse in South Indian English.
Gandhi (Mahatma): Some half-naked bald old man who lived some years back and whose birthday is a holiday, so he has been of some use, right?
Gandhi (Rahul): The king-in-waiting.
Gandhi (Sonia) : The dowager Queen of the realm.
Hindi: A language to be forced down everyone’s throat, no matter that less than half the populace speaks it with any degree of fluency, and no matter that outside
North India it is an alien tongue.
Hockey: Theoretically the national sport. In reality totally neglected and overlooked, despite the performance of the players, who are actually doing pretty well despite all constraints, but who had to go on a hunger strike recently to get their dues.
Indian culture: The standard cover-all excuse when you want to destroy and ravage whatever you want, paintings, statues, museums not excluded. Everything, but everything, is against Indian culture, except dowry deaths and child marriage (see above).
Left: The communist political parties. A bunch of traitors, since they think the country should have an independent foreign policy, should care for poor people, and should try for a measure of social harmony.
Love marriage: As opposed to "arranged marriage". What in any other part of the world (except parts of the Islamic world) would be simply "marriage". Something against Indian Culture (see above) and liable to get one into an Honour Killing (no need to define that one).
Little Master: A podgy, over-the-hill cricket player (see “National Religion”) who refuses to retire and goes on and on and on.
Middle Class: An utterly self-absorbed, overconsuming branch of society who would, in the words of an old American song, “pour water on a drowning man” – if they could be bothered to notice him in the first place.
Morals: What one has to invoke as a back-up to “Indian culture” when one wants to force people to think or act as one wants them to.
Muslims: A national fifth column of pampered, parasitic, overbreeding traitors all of whom have four wives and twenty children. Never mind if they have no education or jobs. They’re still pampered. See “pseudo-secularism”.
National Religion: A colonial pseudo-sport named “cricket” which most people, none of whom know anything of how to actually play it, take as a substitute for war. A vehicle for jingoism. Also check “Team
East India: A place that doesn’t exist, peopled by Chinese who are always rebelling and/or sleeping around.
Nuclear Deal: Something that absolutely cannot, must not, be discussed properly. Any doubts at all on this deal marks one as a member of the Left (see above).
Political Party: Except for the Left, a family run business that exists for the sole purpose of looting the public exchequer after winning elections (see above).
Prime Minister: A whiny voiced blue turbaned flunky whose only function is to simper at George W Bush and keep the seat warm for the king-in-waiting.
Pseudo-secularism: What you are guilty of if you think minorities like Muslims and Christians should be treated at par with Hindus.
Railway: It’s one of the biggest networks in the world, so (as one ad used to proudly proclaim on TV in the eighties) why on earth should it be safe and clean and punctual as well? Huh? Huh?
Serial : Synonym for “soap”. Endless episodes from the Ekta Kapoor production house featuring garishly coloured women eternally plotting against each other in mansions decorated by someone colour blind.
Sex: Another of those things that don't exist in India. A contaminant from abroad, associated with such evils as sex education.
: A nonexistent entity, according to the judgement of the supreme court. More correctly known as the BCCI XI. A private cricket team selected by a private club, the Board for the Control of Cricket in India . India
Television: Completely dumbed down opium of the masses; a living proof of what Karl Marx said.
Terrorist: Any Muslim who doesn't knuckle under when told to.
Virgin: What every Indian woman is, even if she is married and the mother of ten.
Wheatish Complexion: Dark. What the matrimonial ads don't want to say out loud.