Foreword: The way the English language is spoken and adapted by people of Indian origin have always fascinated me. The pronunciations and interpretations of English words depend very much on the place or state of origin in the vast country. The reader must remember that India’s diversity in language, food and culture is quite amazing; there are differences even within one state. Here is my take on the English language as spoken by the Gujaratis – from the state of Gujarat in the Western region of India
In spite of being located in one of the back streets of Harris Park in Sydney, Dada’s Deli was a busy little joint; a café of choice for Indians who lived locally. In fact, there were certain times during the week, when you needed to reserve a table for lunch or dinner. However, business was quite bleak during the late morning hours when most tables would be unoccupied save for a few who frequented the Deli at that hour only for a “gup shup” and a chat over a few cups of masala chai.
One such regular group comprised of three quaint Gujarati gentlemen known to the early morning frequenters simply as Mehta, Shah and Patel. They would usually come in at around eleven in the morning and grab their favorite table near the window at the back of the deli. And, as always, for reasons unknown, their language of “choish” was English.
On this particular morning, Mehta, Shah and Patel were in a rare thoughtful mood.
Mehta burped to break the ice and leaned forward. “Pheeling quite hungry, Bhai. Pheel like having a snake?”
Shah shook his head. “No heavy snakes for me. Very big dinner yeshterday. Too many dhoklas and puris.”
Patel snapped his fingers and an unwilling waiter appeared out of nowhere.
“Get phried pappadums,” he ordered and then added an obligatory “pleash.”
“And three Masala Chaa’,” added Mehta.
Shah waited for the waiter to leave and then leaned forward.
“Very busy at home. Visitor from Amdavad. Very impotent man.”
“How impotent?” asked Patel
“Very,” said Shah. “They stand erect when he enter Indian parliament.”
“Oh!” exclaimed Mehta. “That is mosht impotent!”
“Hmmm,” said Mehta. “But have you shown him the Harbour Pul… err… Harbour Bridge?”
Shah gave out a long drawn sigh. “Tried to show but he is very shlow walker…. Can’t ketchup with me. But very rich man…. Lots of kesh in pocket”
The lively conversation suddenly came to an abrupt halt as the waiter reappeared out of nowhere with and a plate of deep fried pappadums and three cups of simmering masala tea.
Mehta leaned forward to pick up a pappadum. “Need to go to London to see Big Bhen.”
“But have you not seen Big Ben before? asked Shah.
Mehta scowled back. “Big Bhen… my shister.”
The other two looked concerned.
“Is she ill again?” asked Patel.
“No,” said Mehta with a sigh. “Jusht getting older every year…. going from the bed to verse.”
For the next few minutes a comfortable bout of silence pervaded at the table except for the occasional slurps at the tea cups and the scrunching noise of the pappudums.
Mehta burped to break the silence.
“Seen any new Phillums?” asked Shah.
Patel grunted. “I am not big phen of new phillums. Too much phaiting and very bed mujik. Jhee TV ish batter”
His remarks were accepted with vigorous nods.
“I like cricket more,” said Mehta. “Watch the metch yeshtarday? “
The other two shook their heads and Mehta leaned back with a dreamy look in his eyes.
“Shachinbhai Tendukar. Vah Vah Vah… what a batshman! By Goad! The biggesht Chakka hitter”.
The other two nearly stood up and applauded.
“Let me tell you shomething,” said Patel in a sudden hushed tone. “I cannot understhand the young generasion.”
The other two heads nodded in unison and in agreement.
Patel continued. “Whole day doing nothing… no eating, no shpeaking. Just hearing pope mujic and eating popecorn?”
“What can you do?” mused Mehta. “That is the pope-ular thing to do.”
Again the other two nodded in unison.
“Spesial dressing, spesial phood,” Patel continued, shaking his head. “And always hearing to this… to this rape mujic.”
“Hey Bhagwan,” sighed Shah. “What is heppening to young generasion?”
“Bhai, it is just the gape in the generasions,” said Patel in a sad tone.
“Yes,” lamented Mehta. “We have no other opsion.”
An uncomfortable silence descended on the table as the men mulled over the dark future of the youth.
The silence was suddenly broken by a screaming nasal screech otherwise also recognized as the voice of Himesh Reshamiya. For a change, Shah did not burp but instead snorted in disgust.
“That pope-music again?” he nearly screamed.
In response to the candid comment, Patel stood up and fumbled in his pocket, quite crimson in the face.
“No, no,’ he said in an embarrassed tone. “That ish only my phone’s Ringing Ton. Musht be my wife calling. Time to go.”
The unwilling waiter reappeared out of nowhere again. This time, a cracked glass plate in his hand with the bill neatly folded in the centre.
Mehta glanced at the piece of paper.
“Siksh dollar,” he grumbled, giving the waiter a dirty look.
Silently, the three men dug into the pockets, and produced two dollars each. Born out of years of the mundane routine, they put the money on the cracked plate and skillfully avoiding the eyes of the unwilling waiter, walked out into the seedy street.