The hilarious spirit of Bombay : The Tribune India

Join Whatsapp Channel

The hilarious spirit of Bombay

The hilarious spirit of Bombay

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo



Sumit Paul

A few years ago, I received an email from a Bombay-based Parsi friend, titled ‘Eighty-four things not to do in Bombay’. A person who is new to Bombay (Mumbai) must follow the advice in toto. Newcomers to the city must never call a cop Pandu, a BEST bus driver Bablia or a Maharashtrian guy Bhaiya. Bombay has its peculiar lingo, an odd mixture of words from Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Parsi and a dash of other tongues.

In terms of language, Bombay is truly cosmopolitan, and no other city in India can hold a candle to it on this count. Where else will one hear ‘cutting’ chai (for half a glass of tea), kalti marna (get out), bhidu (a term of endearment for a friend), gayela, khayela, khaali-peeli (unnecessarily), jhakaas (terrific), bhankas (useless) and so on, popularised by Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi in Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.?

Once, I was passing through Bhendi Bazaar. I stopped at a shop to pick up old Urdu magazines. Accustomed to saying and hearing aap and janaab throughout my life, when I began to bargain, the shopkeeper told me: ‘Bhai sahab, tum ko bolela hai, ekach keemat (I’ve told you, the price is fixed).’ It was a bolt from the blue. I almost fainted; I forgot to buy the books from that man and fled, lest I might die of hearing a few more gems of linguistic distortion, or rather, innovation.

Nikal patli gali se, hawa aane de, kidhar ku jayenga, woh soyela hai — these are some of the expressions that can rattle the sensibilities of a newcomer to the city. You won’t know that the Sandaas (toilet) Road railway station on the harbour line is actually called Sandhurst. People have forgotten Baron Sandhurst and relegated him to the loo. I haven’t come across a better example of falling from grace.

Sandhurst (UK) is renowned for the Royal Military Academy. Once, a Sandhurst-passed Indian General wrote in The Illustrated Weekly, requesting the Bombay Municipal Authority to change the name of the road. He found it terribly insulting to his alma mater!

And you can get an instant ‘university degree’ in abuse if you inadvertently get on the nerves of a Koli woman (fisherwoman) on a suburban train. Truck drivers can come to Bombay for a crash course in the choicest cuss words from Koli women. The abuses can sound the death knell for ultra-sensitive souls. I used to get quite worked up when somebody called me tu or tum. But the spirit of Bombay is so overwhelming that soon you get used to its linguistic excesses and start talking a la Bombaite. Bombay has always witnessed the juxtaposition of rusticity and refinement. Don’t forget that Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Kaifi Azmi and Shakeel Badayuni wrote their finest poetry in this megalopolis.

#Mumbai


Top News

Three days before poll, top Naxalite among 29 killed in Bastar gunfight

Three days before poll, top Naxalite among 29 killed in Bastar gunfight

3 security men hurt | AK-47, Insas among arms seized | Modi ...

‘Not off the hook’: Supreme Court to Patanjali founders

‘Not off the hook’: Supreme Court to Patanjali founders

Baba Ramdev, Acharya Balkrishna tender apologies

Supreme Court junks idea of physical counting of VVPAT slips

Supreme Court junks idea of physical counting of VVPAT slips

Says not practicable | Defers hearing till tomorrow — day be...

Pawan Kumar Tinu, Jagdeep S Kaka Brar on AAP’s Punjab list

Pawan Kumar Tinu, Jagdeep S Kaka Brar on AAP’s Punjab list

Saffron party fields Parampal Kaur Sidhu, Som Parkash’s wife


Cities

View All