Monday, December 29, 2014

Gone with the Wind - Repeat Telecast


In our Village School at Muthukur, we were taught English in our mother tongue Telugu till the School Final Class which my Father used to teach. He never broke into Telugu in his English Class though he used to teach our Science in Telugu (laghu lolakamu yokka dolanaavartana kaalamu stood for the Simple Pendulum's Time Period).

And our English then started with Elizabethan (Shakespeare) and ended with the Victorian (Bernard Shaw). So, I didn't learn any flash words, slang or even colloquial English till I joined our fashionable University at Waltair.

As a freshman when I once said to my bus-mate (who I came to know later was in the English Department): 

"I am sweating", 

he looked at me and said: 


That was the first time I heard the word 'typical', so I kept quiet and looked up the COD when I reached home. Still, it didn't make any sense. As I grew up in the University, I came to know that everyone said 'Typical!' for everything, without intending any harm. It was just the fashion of the day to say it with that typical exclamation mark as often as you can. Much later I read from Feynman that the flash word in the Math Graduate School at Princeton was: 


Another fashionable phrase at my University was to say:

"Excuse me!" 

even when I didn't see anything excusable or even inexcusable in her behavior. They said it even when they were asking for the time. At KGP when I used to ride my pushbike, the wayside rickshawalas used to shout:

"Time kotho?" 

That sudden question used to break my stream of thought and I had to look at my wrist trying to answer him and lose my balance and hit the fence and fall down, to the merriment of other rickshawalas...they ought to be ashamed and say rightly: "Excuse me!" and I: "OK, Excused". Then I saw one of those fabulous Dean Martin movies (The Silencers?) where he ceremoniously picks up a stooping villain off his guard, says: 

"Excuse me!" 

and punches him fatally.

At KGP there was this Dev Anand who would say:

"Could you please...!" 

for everything from asking for the sugar bowl at the dining table to borrowing a hundred precious rupees. That reminded me of the famous joke in which Pope was being dined and wined by Lord Mountabatten who asks:

"O Divine! Pass the Wine!" 

to be followed by the equally poetic Nehru: 

"O Supreme! Pass the Cream!" 

and then Baldev Singh, not to be outdone, says: 

"O B*****d! Pass the Custard!"

There was this very erudite and lovable Dr Chitnis who for a while stayed with us in our Faculty Hostel. He was fresh from a decade in the US and I learned many things from him, including the latest Americanisms. 

At school, my Father used to say: "Keep quiet! I am correcting the answer-scripts", which he really used to do...I mean 'correct' the errors before awarding be passed on to his students. But by the time I reached IIT KGP, we never bothered to 'correct' but just glance and give marks. So, 'correcting scripts' was a misnomer that I keenly felt. Dr Chitnis used to say: 

"I have to check the scripts" 

(another 'check' list!). 

One summer noon at KGP the temperature soared and I said: 

"It is very hot!" 

And Dr Chitnis smiled and said: 

"Sastry! It is very is for chilli masala"

Once when I said without thinking: 

"That is like wanting to have the cake and eat it too!", 

Dr Chitnis gently corrected me: 

"It should the cake and have it too!"

There was once this after-dinner round of stale Sardarjee jokes (like the Baldev Singh's above). When my turn came I narrated the one about Baldev Singh breaking the wishbone and saying triumphantly: "Napoleon" instead of "Bone-apart!". Dr Chitnis then narrated the current American version of: "Do and Tell":

When this Sardarjee's turn came, he went to the stage and asked for a Table Fan to be installed. Upon which he slips his pants down a bit and stoops in front of the fan and asks his audience: 

"Name the Movie!"

Everyone was silent and wondering which film it could be and gave up.

Our Sardarjee stands up and says:

"Can't anyone of you tell? It is very simple...
Gond pe Wind!"

...Posted by Ishani


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