December 31, 2010

A packet of Aishwarya

The Hindustan Times provides useful tips for the party season:
"A packet of Aishwarya.” That’s what a gram of cocaine is being called by those looking for a stash for their New Year parties. The code words don’t end there. Suppliers are calling hashish ‘Katrina’, while ketamine hydrochloride has been codenamed ‘Rakhi’. Buyers and sellers of narcotics, known to troll the city’s party spots every New Year’s Eve, are using these code words to stay under the police radar.

..It’s not just popular actors’ names that are being used. A drug party is being called a baithak (meeting), while a rave party is being called “420”. Cocaine is also being called ‘coco cola’, ‘cola’ and ‘white’; hashish has been nicknamed goli (tablet) or ‘black’.If, at a pub, someone asks for a ‘tissue’ he or she is likely to be seeking LSD, a hallucinogen. Heroin is being sold as ‘brown’.

Even party spots have been given code names. The invitation to a rave party at Madh Island would simply ask you to come to ‘midland’, while it would be ‘garden’ for Gorai. Ghodbunder Road in Thane has been named ‘Kalaghoda’ and Yeoor ‘jungle’. ‘Sea face’, meanwhile, is the code word for Goa.

(Narco cops on ‘Rakhi’, ‘Aishwarya’ trail, Hindustan Times, 31 Dec 2010)

December 20, 2010


Anubha Sawhney Joshi defines the quintessential bling word in this ode to upward mobility in Delhi:

Your friends from South Delhi (GK-sheekay, Jorbagh-shorbagh) might use it as a jibe to describe your taste in clothes (fake brands, blingy handbags, nail jewellery), food (naan chholey, butter chicken, kulfi) or music (Punjabiyaan da tashan is probably your ringtone), but you brush it all aside with a casual: Ainvayi bolte rehte hain,saanu ki? You don't really give a damn because you're dhinchak and proudly so!

..Dhinchak is an attitude. It's what makes the kudi from Janakpuri who aspires to be in South Delhi actually get to Sainik Farms. Dhinchak is in the tinkle of the glass bangles and the sparkle of the bindi that she effortlessly teams with bootcut jeans to get noticed. Dhinchak is that quintessential free-spiritedness that makes a Janakpuri ki ladki smile and bullshit her way out of a sticky situation (Sorry, Auntyji, I can't marry your son because he's never going to get me out of this locality! But my cousin Rinkie from Rohtak will suit him perfectly). Dhinchak is her overconfidence as she misspells and mispronounces words, but doesnt stop using them. (I love romantic joner movies like DDLJ). Dhinchak is never a size zero because she wont ever give up on that spot of butter on her aloo ka parantha or fail to gobble the last garma-garam gulab jamun. Dhinchak will always be slightly conscious of her surroundings and her short skirt when she goes to celebrate her anniversary (not birthday) at The Oberoi (in South Delhi,of course), a once-in-a-year affair that will be duly documented on Facebook, except that she will call it Oberois.

(Confessions of a Dhinchak Ladki, Times of India, 20 Dec 2010)

November 01, 2010

Death of a Creole

Linguist Hugo Cardoso on the last speaker of a unique language formed through contact between Malayalam and Portuguese (OPEN Magazine, October 2010).
William Rozario passed away on 20 August 2010, at the age of 87. And with him died the Indo-Portuguese Creole of Cochin.

August 19, 2010

Undercover in India

'A commendable hot-chase, 007! But it was wasted as we lost the film!'

James Bond, licensed to mutilate the English language. Weird Crime Theater's post “Let me taste fish” and the Magic of Amar Chitra Katha has more.

August 03, 2010

From Where to Where

Anuvab Pal compiles a few current Indian English expressions (Mid-Day, August 1, 2010):
Rajeev this side: Usually said on the phone. It literally means the person saying it is on that side, physically. It has nothing to do with taking a side (for that, see stance (n)). Sometimes, it is said in person, across a table, implying the same thing. It can get awkward because you're not sure if you have to acknowledge your side too.

From where to where he's gone: Meaning success. It never implies anyone physically going anywhere. It's our way of talking about becoming something in life. Also, sometimes substituted with 'He's become a big man' which is also never a reference to size.

It's coming up like anything: Meaning development. Usually in reference to neighbourhoods westernising. Can also be used with individuals in show business and used as a substitute for 'appear' (Eg: You came in that ad, He came in that movie etc.)

Continental Food: Nobody on this or any other continent, knows what this means. It's any dish that has no defined national roots and if the chef does not feel like finding out (see also sizzler, (n) which doesn't mean anything)."

May 07, 2010

A dowry of parney

Just figured out that Google Books allows you to clip and embed passages from out-of-print books. Here's a curious piece of Anglo-Indian slang I found in A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant and Vulgar Words (1860) by John Camden Hotten:

Click on the image if it doesn't show up complete in your browser, that'll take you to the page on Google Books.


Via मराठी शब्द, this plausible explanation for the origin of the word mosambi, from Firminger's Manual Of Gardening For India:
..a tight-skinned Orange of the Malta type, called the Mosambi (a corruption of Mozambique). This is generally called the Sweet Lime by Europeans.

March 18, 2010

On Indian English

Via Mint: Sailaja Pingali, author of Indian English (Dialects of English) on the characteristics of Indian English. (Download the podcast here).

March 14, 2010

Bookie jargon

Some notes on betting jargon, just in time for the IPL season. These are compiled from stray mentions in newspaper articles - if you can add to this list, or suggest a comprehensive guide, let me know.

Sauda: A bet

Sauda fok: Stop payment. When underworld dons suspect that a match has been fixed without their knowledge, they order a 'sauda fok', cancelling all payments.

Fancy sauda: I found this term on Cricinfo which provides the following explanation.
Some bookies and very big punters bet huge amounts between themselves on what is called 'fancy sauda'. This can be on anything, from estimating innings scores, top scorers or wicket-takers and staking from Rs 100-10,000 per run against the difference in team totals. It can take in small details, such as who will bowl the next over from which end and how many runs will be scored in an over, or off the next delivery. Putting a realistic figure on these transactions is difficult and though there are very few punters involved in this, the stakes can often be very high.

Dabba sauda: appears to be something similar, going by this quote from LiveMint:
The bookies have already started accepting interesting bets, called dabba sauda. These include bets on the political fortunes of BJP rebels and the survival of former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, who has made his dislike for Modi’s style of running things in Gujarat clear.

English is now India's second language

The Times of India summarizes recently released census data on bilingualism in India.

More Indians speak English than any other language, with the sole exception of Hindi. What's more, English speakers in India outnumber those in all of western Europe, not counting the United Kingdom. And Indian English-speakers are more than twice the UK's population.

English was the primary language for barely 2.3 lakh Indians at the time of the census, more than 86 million listed it as their second language and another 39 million as their third language. This puts the number of English speakers in India at the time to more than 125 million. The only language that had more speakers was Hindi with 551.4 million.

February 28, 2010

Slang Sighting: Zero

Mumbai underworld slang for a police informer, also known as a khabri or 'goodman'.
The code name Zero refers to an informer in Dawood Ibrahim's stronghold Dongri and adjoining areas. Goodman is another popular name for an informer. When someone praises an informer, calling him a 'goodman', in typical Indian gesturing, he touches his thumb to his coiled index finger making it look like a zero.
This is from a new series on Mumbai's underworld in Mid-Day, which also mentions that 'cutting' is police slang for an informer's tip-offs.
He was not aware of their whereabouts, when a khabri gave him a 'cutting' that they were in J J Hospital ward number 18. (Kingpin Khabri: Goss from Mumbai's underbelly, Sunday Mid-Day, 28 Feb 2010)