MD12 : Desinglished


 I have always been intrigued with the usage of English words/phrases across different cultures. As an Indian in his first trip to US, I was stumped by Here to Go (Read it at Mishti Doi 1 : Here To Go). Indians are prone to using Desinglish [Desi (typical Indian) + English]. Most of the Indians are so used to it that most of the words / phrases seem to be NORMAL usages, yet they leave people from other cultures completely confused. 

So, brace up folks… here we go…

“We moved into a new flat recently” – my aunt said, as I started driving.

My uncle’s friend (Bob) was visiting from the US. While my uncle and his friend stayed back in Delhi to complete some official work, Bob’s wife – Jenny – was coming over to Bangalore on Monday to spend time with my aunt. My uncle (Ravi) and Bob would join the wives on Friday evening. I had been given the responsibility to help my Aunt pick her friend up from the airport, and drive her to my aunt’s flat….Errr.. Apartment.

The flight from Delhi had been delayed and arrived at 5 PM India time. We got into our car, and braced ourselves for a 2 hour drive through the heavy traffic.

Following conversation ensued…

Aunt: The journey will take 1.5 hrs minimum. We moved to a new flat recently – bit far from airport.

JENNY: Flat?

ME: Apartment.. Apartment (I chimed in)

Aunt: Yeah, yeah.. That only! Why because Ravi spends long time out of station – its better to move into this locality!

JENNY looked a bit confused – trying to make sense of why and because being used together, and usage of words like out of station & locality.I interjected…

ME: She means Ravi is usually out of town – so they decided to move into this apartment – its closer to the city & some of my uncle’s friends stay close by. (I explained)

JENNY: Ahh…. Ok.. (She let out a weak smile)

Aunt: Yeah, yeah.. That only!! (giving me the SHUT UP and CONCENTRATE on the ROAD look)

Conversation continued… with aunt talking about Bangalore weather and blah and blah and blah. I got alert again at the next Desinglish usage..

Aunt: Where were you put up in Delhi?

JENNY: (Looks around quizzically trying to understand what PUTTING UP IN DELHI would mean)

ME: Where did you stay in Delhi?

JENNY: Oh, at the Sheraton.

Aunt: Oh… wait till Ravi & Bob come. Ravi has already planned for a trip this weekend. We will do some good time-pass. (She said excitedly)

Usage of time and pass together with a hyphen is alien to folks outside India… I explained.. I don’t know what Jenny thought, but she kept quiet.

Aunt: It would have been good if we had met last time when you came to India… what – 5 years ago – right? But I was carrying… (meaning I was pregnant)

JENNY: (looks at her with anticipation – hoping that she would say WHAT she was carrying because of which they could not meet)

AUNT: (Oblivious to the confusion she may have created in Jenny’s mind) I hope you did not think that I was acting pricey… (She let out a smile)

Jenny rolled her eyes and smiled too.. A weak one. I don’t think Pricey is even a word in English – and when you add “acting” as the adjective – hmmm. (Acting pricey means being snobbish or hard to find)

We finally reached aunt’s apartment.

“Welcome to India. Let me get your stuff out of the dickey” – I smiled and told Jenny. I opened up the car boot (or trunk as it may be in some cultures) and took out the luggage.

Hmmm. I wonder why would one call the car boot/trunk as dick-ey!

What are some of the other words / phrases in other cultures that you have been confused about?

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12 thoughts on “MD12 : Desinglished

  1. Ok, that is hilarious!! I love it when two cultures meet. And this just goes to show how fluid language is. Thanks for visiting my site!

  2. Nice post. And “pricey” is often used in America to convey that things are expensive in relation to what you get. For example, the restaurant had good food but it was a bit pricey. And in America, the car has a trunk to store luggage and other stuff.

  3. hahaha, I had a laugh over this one too. The words “flat” and “dickey” though are British words that Indians picked up after years of colonization. So they kinda don’t count as desinglish but I suppose to North Americans, its confusing as hell.

    But I burst out laughing at “carrying” and “that only”. LOL.

    And I don’t know about you but the phrase “time pass” annoys the hell out of me hahah. Thanks for bringing my attention to this post! 😀

    • Glad that you liked it Karen… while most of these words seem common usage for us in India, people from other cultures are usually left clue-less… usage of language across cultures is truly intriguing.

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