People who are  from
Delhi would surely must have heard of the restaurant at India Habitat Centre, by the name of “Eatopia”. It most probably has been taken from the word “Euphoria”. At least that is what most of us would think. But we must never forget that the world is not just full of mediocre people. There live geniuses also and with the originality of their thinking they may come out with so many explanations for this word “Eatopia”.  First one being “Eat” and “Pia” means eat and drink. (“Pia” is the Hindi for drink). Listen to the 2nd one, this is all the more interesting, “Eatiopia”, probably food inspired by Ethiopian cuisine.  Now comes the googly, Eat-o-Pia, which literally means Eat-O-Darling. Well, now you must be thinking, who this genius could be? Well, this is none other than Sanju (my closest buddy’s) mom.

There are many incidents, where people tend to do literal translations from their mother tongue to say Hindi or English. Since I am a Bengali, I have seen many Bengalis doing this quite often, I am sure this happens with people of different origin also. Like for example, in summers, the quick bath that we take in the evening is called “Ga Dhova” in Bangla. Which in English means, washing yourself if we do a word to word translation.  So here was my friend’s 50 year old mom taking quick bath when her neighbor came in looking for her and was told by an aunt of that friend, “ Wo to Badan Dho rahi hai”. What happened after that, I really do not know but I am sure that neighbor must not have come asking for my friend’s mom for few days. I mean, what the heck, “Badan Dho Rahi Hai!!!”  

There was another incident where my friend’s uncle, again a poor soul from Kolkata with very poor knowledge of Hindi, was walking on a rainy day on a Delhi road when he saw this young girl, all drenched in the rain. Out of concern, he said something which left the girl flabbergasted and she thankfully did not slap this uncle back, may be keeping in mind his age. And you know, what did he say? He said, aja meri chhaati mein aja” which in Bangla would have sounded like, Esho amar chhatai chole esho” or, in simple English, come under the umbrella. 

Now that I am in the silicon valley of
India, here also people love speaking in Kinglish. Which is nothing but mix of Kanada and English. Now there was this sales man sitting in my office on a pleasant day and wanted to say, open your eyes wide to see the view outside, its so pleasant. But he ended up saying, “takeout your eyes and see” . Someone please tell me, how do I see with my eyes out in my hand?” Well, I guess he also was doing the same, translating word to word from his mother tongue to English.

One incident, from my school. This was a blunder done by an English teacher. Who just matter of factly said, “All girls head down, open the window let the atmosphere come inside. The principal just passed away.” What had actually happened was, we just finished writing our test papers and as usual were making a lot of noise. She wanted us to keep quiet with heads on the table because the principal was passing by and since it was winters she also wanted the windows to be open for some sunlight. 

When I was small as in a Teenager, there was this guy, who badly wanted to try his luck on me and ended up saying, “So beauty, so beauty” (arrghh!!) 

My dad again is an example of pure Hindi. He again is a Delhite, born and raised in the capital. And I seriously do not understand why does he use certain words in Hindi which anyone would understand even if spoken in English. Words like maths, copy, English etc. He would say ganit, pustika, angrezi, kaapi etc. These words he would use with kids who are from vernacular school and his reasoning is, since they study in Hindi so they would not know that science is vigyaan, maths is ganit. I find it very ridiculous. Even when he would go to the Golgappe wala, he would say, “Tikia dedo” instead of simple Tikki dedo” why? Because in each plate there are 2 Tikki so the plural of Tikki is Tikia. Hence, Tikia dedo. 

My dad again is one of a kind, he loves chaat, papri, pakori with sour chutney and then would eat shilajit because he read somewhere sour food effects a man’s manhood. (Give me a break) And to top it all he hid the shilajit which I found out because I am in a habit of spying my dad’s things out of affection and also out of curiosity. There is a wooden chest also which is locked and does not have keys and he just would not let anyone open it. I have decided I would surely open it one day, no matter what, just to find out what is there inside the “Pandora’s Box” 

Now, here in
Bangalore, the accented English makes it sound so funny. I was here in this so called happening Pub called “Purple Haze” with a  friend and the waiter comes and asks, “two-aa” Oh, before, I forget, in case you happen to come down here in Bangalore, don’t forget to add an extra “A” after each word that you say, that is the style-aa…..go leftaa, rightaa, eat burgeraa, movieaaa, McDonaldsaaa….aaa….aaa…aa

And in Kolkata just make sure you say all the “w” and “v” sounding words as “bh” like Bhobhon for bhaWan.  Bhalue for Value, Bhater for Water…Bhine for wineThis is the best, “Pleej sarbh me a ge-laash opf bhite bhine” which is nothing but, “Please serve me a glass of white wine”. 

There is this co-worker of mine, who is from Tamil Nadu. Very smartly one day I heard him saying to another colleague who is from
Delhi, “ Tera laundia kaisi hai?” Later on I had to tell him that “laundia” is a very slang word.

My late grandpa, well, had he been alive he would have been the winner of this game. Firstly he had a typical Bengali accent, plus he was very fond of talking in Hindi, He loved reading Hindi newspapers and guess what, he was almost on the verge of becoming deaf. The hearing aid that he wore had already committed suicide as it gave up hope of giving any sense of hearing to my dadu. Dadu most of the time did not even wear it. Once, someone called on our landline, now he could not hear a single word of what the other person was saying. So he point blank said, (and you would have to read it in heavy bangla accent) “Ushka maa bhi nahi hai, ushka baap bhi nahi hai, gopi ishkool
gaya hai, mai ghaar pe okela hu”. I am sure this must have scared the shit out of the caller  because my dadu would always scream instead of talking thinking that the other person also can not hear him. We always had to talk to him along with hand gestures which would have given any man the idea as if we were all theatre actors. In fact, I got so used to using hand gestures while talking that I was once asked if I was a classical dancer.  This exercise has actually has helped me a lot. Now, I can communicate with people of any place.

I remember when I had gone to Chennai with Dad and he was not able to understand a single word these people were saying and I was helping him with the communication which I could pick up from there hand gestures and movements.  

All said and done, communication, observing people are a great learning opportunities. All the more fun if people of different communities speak in different languages. Even if that meant singing Hindi songs and filling up for the words that you don’t understand or have forgotten, like I used to do as a child. “Pyaar mujhe tum karti ho, Don’t say no” remember this song from Ghayal. Well, I used to sing, Pyaar mujhe tum karti ho, zoom say no” . Why? Because I never understood what was the singer singing.  Another close call, from a Sanjay Dutt Madhuri movie, “mai premi aha tu Premi aha, phir kya daddy kya amma……..well, my version was…mai premi..aha..tu premi..aha…phir kya…tadi…kya…tanna…….(same reason:- I just did not know what was it). Language and communication is fun. And after having read this do take your Pia to Eat-O-Pia for some Eatiopian food and do eat and pia. 





5 thoughts on “Transliteration

  1. What abt Eatopia coming from “Utopia” – by far I think that eating joint was concieved as an ideal food joint for eating …. Just a thot …

  2. i have always thought that you are incredibly creative and most of all enthusiastic about being so …keep on shoma

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