Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How Indian Railways got their toilets

I have just finished reading a book titled ‘Entry from Backside Only – Hazaar Fundas of Indian-English’ by Binoo K. John. The book is about how we Indians have gone ahead and made the Queen’s language our language by inserting Hindi words into long-drawn English sentences and by making some English words (such as public, party, because etc.) very much a part of every day Hindi vocabulary.

And then, of course, there’s the undeniable manner in which we Indians can alter the rules of spoken English to suit our needs and yet, the person at the receiving end of such a speech is able to perfectly comprehend what the crux of the matter is. There are quite a few hilarious examples quoted, such as the professor in a college who admonished the boys throwing paper balls at girls from a gallery with the words ‘Why you do that? Under standing people will get hurt!’

The book also cites examples of popular scenes from Hindi cinema, like the Amitabh scene which I had blogged about a few weeks ago.

The book does tend to get pedantic at times and hence is fun only in parts.

Book rating: 3 out of 5

Here are a few fun excerpts from the book.

Excerpt 1:

One of the classics of writing in Indian-English is the letter by a train traveller to the authorities of the Indian Railways pleading for the introduction of toilets. Many newsletters and other journals brought out by the Railways contain this masterpiece.

Okhil Chandra Sen wrote this letter to the Sahibganj divisional railway office in 1909:

“I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with lotah in one hand and dhoti in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shocking to man and female women on platform. This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to the papers.”

It is said that it was this letter that resulted in the railway authorities introducing toilets in Indian trains.

Excerpt 2:

Jug Suraiya, in his long career in the Times of India, caricatured Indian-English with rib-tickling effect…On 2 May 2005, Jug wrote this bylined article in his favourite epistolary style, from an Indian-English user of the Oxford dictionary. The occasion for such pieces, which comes when a revised OUP edition is published with new Indian usages and words, is a cause for celebration and opinions are expressed about how Indians are now rightly striking back at the empire.

“My head is eating circles and circles over all this golmal about new Oxford University Press (OUP) Advanced Learner’s Dictionary having Indlish (i.e. Indian-English) wording-From A for ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) to Z for zulm (cruel treatment i.e. Police doing zulm by giving danda to publics committing nuisances in frontside of mantrijis dwelling abode in capital) – we are using in our daily to daily gup-shup. One auntyji, whose good name and hailing from what native place I am not knowing but putting up at my backside itself, is telling that it is a very shame-shame business which will make us laughing joke of whole world as because of our khichri way of speaking. Just I am saying her, please not to take it otherwise but what it goes of your worthy father if all outside people learning our bhasha which even if I am telling myself is too good only.

We are not needing OUP dictionary to be knowing that all such talks are not bogus lafra but simply way we are speaking from Kapurthala to Kanyakumari, ay-ay-yo. Loin in Punjab is not private part which decent gentry not mentioning in front of convent educated ladies and small baba-log but big animal first putting up in jungle and now in cage in joo where people paying money to come and see it. Any gujarati snake is not king cobra, not even on Narendra Modi, but just it is time-pass like ghatia.

And suchlike that all Patelbhais are having between morning tiffin and nightly dal-bhat. Outside gentry not having inside khabar on loins and ‘snakes’ and joos was getting too much shocked and ghabrooed and telling that India is most third class and hopeless place full of rascal people that is best avoid karo.

As first to first attempt to show outside world how we are speaking, OUP dictionary deserves shabashi. Tourist people and foreign sethijis and moneybags will now be knowing that India is number one locality for making holiday or doing dhanda-baazi without any khit-pit or gich-mich. But while OUP is giving many good dialoges of local people like ‘Don’t take your grandfather’s time to do your homework’ – no doubt very fine dialogue which with my own ears I am hearing first time only – it is not telling anything about grandfather’s better half i.e. nani as in ‘I will make you remember your nani’ most famous dialogue popularized by late Rajiv Gandhi who another one time also told ‘Hum losenge ya jeetenge’. Also OUP is mentioning chargesheet but not CBI, hawala scam etc which are leading dialogues of India today.

OUP editor, kindly to ensure correction of all such omissions, commissions and kickbacks. And how it is that OUP is telling that is dictionary of ‘Current English’ when whole brother-in-law world, i.e. puri Sali duniya, is knowing that current English is same to same as current Hindustani except letterings are in Roman script, not Devnagri? Please to be doing needful. Bahut shukriya aur hazar thanks.”


arpana said...


Ridhi :) said...

How do you put this Chat thingi in your blog?

Shekhar said...

arpana: Thanks. :)

ridhi: Click on the 'cbox' link below the chat box and follow the instructions. Best of luck. :)

ani said...

mum... n i will never be able to get pissed n say 'poori saali duniya!' without bursting out in loud laughter!!! aey ki kitta tussi!!!!!! :D

Shekhar said...

ani: He he.. that was the idea.