This is the second article (S No: IS.3.02) of the series “It Happens Only In India”. It’s an endeavor initiated via a series of humorous articles sensitizing the society to the various idiosyncracies attached to Us. In the process the aim is to Improve Upon, where required and make the society adaptable, refined and progressive.

In the last piece, you’ve already been told that India is a uniquely diverse country, which is crowded, noisy, polluted, irritating, chaotic yet funny and most of the time hilarious, and gets things done with jugaad. We Indians stare and ogle at anything that moves as we are different and shock the visitors with the sheer unexpectedness of our behaviour. We don’t fit the normal parameters of good or bad, we’re just different.

We possess a number of quirks of behaviour or poky, intrusive idiosyncrasies which might be idiotic and irritating or funny and hilarious depending upon how you look at them. Now that the prelude has been done and dusted with, let’s get on with the more serious part of introducing you to some more gems of our quirky behaviour. So, without further ado, here we go:

1. My English is my own

Signage at an Indian Shop (Photo credits: Twitter)

India has more English speakers than any other English speaking country. But majority of the times, people use English to show that they are superior to the ones who can’t. This has led to a peculiar problem. Now everyone is trying to speak English and in doing so, they first think in Hindi what they are supposed to speak or ask and then translate it into English. Changing the code quickly between these two languages has given rise to some unique phrases which are as follows:

(a) What is your good name?

This phrase simply means, ‘What’s your name?’….A decent query but an exact translation of “Aapkashubhnaam kya hai?” As if there are really bad-named creatures around…

(b) Passed out of college

When an Indian says “I passed out of my college,” it means that he graduated from the college. If the phrase was used in the US or the UK, people would have probably rushed the person to a hospital or at least called for an ambulance, because ‘passed out’ is used when somebody has drunk large amounts of alcohol and is unconscious.

(c) My teacher is sitting on my head

This expression is an exact translation of the statement ‘Mera teacher mere sir pe baitha hai‘ – a complaint in Hindi ‘My teacher is stressing me out’. The correct response would be’ Ask him/her to get down.’ What say???

(d) My friend is eating my brain

Once again, a quick Hindi-to-English translation, ‘Meradost mera dimag kha rahahai.’ This is to say that you are stressed and your friend won’t stop talking. Try yelling loudly,” Don’t bug me!”

(e) It’s raining outside 

Really!!! When did it ever rain inside the house?

(f) My college professor expired

Indians commonly refer to death in this way and think it to be very English. When did humans ever arrive with expiry dates?

(g) Are you mad?

Indians seem to be always using this phrase. Did you come late to the office? Are you mad? How could I come late, the boss would have shot me!

(h) My back is paining

This is the favourite crib, oops! I am sorry, complaint of us Indians. Other slight variations are “My body is paining “and “My head is paining” where the word ‘paining’ has replaced “hurting”

(i) Mother promise, father promise and God promise

These phrases are used mostly by youngsters which are a convenient way out of a problematic situation where the speaker does not want to swear and put himself in danger,

(j) I am out of station

This term simply means that the speaker is out of town…but it sounds as if the person has been waiting outside the station indefinitely…

2. Foreigners, Especially the White Ones, are the Real Stars

Star Tourists (Representative Image, Photo credits: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

Maybe it’s got something to do with our colonial hangover or with our own skin tone, we Indians have something massive going on for white skin. To check this out, just head to any tourist spot in a prominent place and you’ll surely see a fair-skinned foreigner or two in the midst of a crowd of people with camera flashes going crazy. Now, with smartphones flooding the country, even the cameras are not needed. Initially, these visitors get a feel of magnetic star power of a Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie but as the number of crazy fans increase, it is soon transformed into paparazzi chasing. The policemen look on amused and at this point, all it takes one grizzled old gentleman to shout at the happy crowd of fans to spoil the fun!

Our film fraternity knows our fetish for white skin and so tries to douse our carnal fires through their films.Majority of our films have lavish and grand dance numbers where the femaledancers dancing in the background seem to be all fair-skinned. One closer look and the secret is out-most of these girls are from east Europe and Russia who’ve landed here to make a fast buck, which would have taken years to make back in their home countries.

These same dancers or extras are hired to dance at marriages, especially in the northern regions of our country, where most of our robust red-blooded, ready to boil in a flash, gentlemen reside. The marriage party soon turns into a lethal combination of booze, skin show and tamanchepedisco, but what the heck, can’t a hardworking man have a little fun?

3. The Graphic Tee-shirt as Uniform

Indians were conservative dressers all throughout as can be confirmed by old pictures of our grandparents and parents where they can be seen wearing dhoti-kurta, kurta payjama, shalwar kameez, saree and an occasional shirt-trousers or suits, if they were working in an office. T-shirts and their graphic varieties were meant for kids and the defiant types! Sometimes, our relatives abroad used to get graphic t-shirts for us. We turned a leaf after the liberalization of the 90s when foreign sport companies landed up in the country and spoilt out eclectic clothing and fashion styles for good, however dry and drab they may have been!

While growing up, we wore graphic tees and slowly, it became a fashion trend. Initially, the t-shirts had cartoons like Mickey and Minnie Mouse on them which gave way to Daffy and Donald Duck. They were followed by Fido Dido of 7Up fame and then suddenly, the floodgates were opened and the trend of wearing graphic tee-shirts took on epic proportions. Now, everyone, be it a kid, old aunty or the bored housewife, seem to be wearing such t-shirts.Slogans and sayings on some of these t-shirts are hilarious but most of the time,they make no sense. Most of the times, these sayings are almost always in English, usually spelt incorrectly or say things sexually inappropriate. A sample:”Pissed as a fart!”Go, guess!!

4. The Nation of Crocs and Tevas

I’m sure that you all know what Crocs are but I’m ready to bet my last dime on the fact that you don’t know what Tevas are. These are those absolutely hilariously hideous andugly contraptions that go by the name of sandals, which have become the latest fashion rage to have hit Indian shores.Now I can visualize a guilty smile frame your face!!

Foe which supremely weird reason have the Indians fallen for these two footwear, I cannot fathom but everyone around me wears them be it kids walking down the road, their parents, young people, old people, young people, everyone’s guilty of the same unpardonable crime. Some wear them with socks as well (I saw Filipinos and Filipinas wearing them in GCC countries as well). For the life of me, I haven’t even the faintest whiff why these are so big here, but I really want to know. Any ideas??

5. The Whole Family or Clan on a Two-wheelers

An Indian Family Of 6 Travelling (Representative Image, Location: Jaipur, India, iStockphoto)

Just like most people in the world, leaving aside the Americans and the Europeans, Indians get around on motorcycles, scooters, mopeds and now, scooties. Indian roads are choc-a-block with moving, speeding, swerving, honking and zigzagging two-wheelers. Though India has a hefty traffic rule book, the rules are rarely implemented. So you see an unbelievable number of people riding on the same two-wheeler. I’ve seen large families of 6-7 members on their two-wheelers where the father drives, with his wife sitting behind him, his elder son sitting in front, half on the fuel tank and gripping the handlebars, two daughters sandwiched between him and his wife and a kid in the wife’s lap. Who says Indian vehicles are not durable?

6. The Honk Capital of the World  

We Indians love to honk even though we might be the only person on the road. We even honk when the vehicle is parked, may be to give vent to our anger, frustration, happiness, whatever!!! Jokes apart, this is a serious ailment that afflicts the collective us. We just use the horns on our vehicles superfluously. Maybe we’re also coaxed, cajoled and forced by the ubiquitous“Blow Horn” painted in a crazy font on the back of nearly every truck, bus and tempo on the road. I don’t know but I surely have been a witness to numerous situations when the road is jam-packed and nearly every driver is honking away to glory, for no apparent reason at all. Maybe it’s their frustration at having been left behind in Life, but are, what the heck, it’syour fault only but why blast the ears of the poor soul who had the misfortune of blocking your way!!

Does anyone has a semblance of a reason for this collective brain fade??Please enlighten me!!

7. Men holding hands in public

Indian Men Holding Hands In Public (Photo credits: Vincent Dolman)

India is a country with a skewed sex ratio and the evidence can be seen all around us. We see more men on the road as compared to woman. Maybe it has got something to do with our social mores where, in some social pockets, it is still considered taboo for women to go out on her own. This lack of the opposite gender produces a rush of overpowering affection to the men, and they turn to each other for some. Although there is no overwhelming evidence for this but you can see men holding hands with each other, or funnier, locked pinkies. This is not to say that they are gay. It is simply because they may be brothers, acquaintances, friends or whatever and wish to hold hands. On asking, they look aghast but say that it is “brotherly love” and your mind is filled with shit!!!It is socially acceptable behaviour and no one breaks into a sweat when two men stroll down the road with locked palms. Never noticed??? That’s what I meant!!!

8. Our fascination with things Chinese

If you talk to any Indian on the road and talk to him about China, he would mutter numerous unprintables and walk away. We know its all due to the recent hullabaloo we’ve had with the Chinese over the years but the evidence on the ground gives credence to our fascination for all things Chinese. Switch on your T.V. and chances are that some or the other Kung Fu movies would be playing.

Go to any restaurant worth its name and you are sure to find some Chines dish or the other. In fact, the menu would have two sections, one Indian and the other Chinese. At any self-respectable wedding feast, chowmein would surely occupy the place of pride. It is another story that it has to be cooked in desi ghee and has to have paneer in it!!

Momos, or dumplings, are the latestChinese hit in India(I know they are from Sikkim but most of us think they’re Chinese).

9. The Indian Idiot Box

When Indian television was ruled by Doordarshan, it was another story but it gained a modicum of normalcy with the arrival of satellite television and we caught up with the world though a decade or two late. But now, Indian T.V. has moved into entirely new weird territory of subtitlesand commercial breaks.

Though most channels in India are in Hindi, we’ve a large number of channels in English and regional languages as well.The Hindi channels don’t have any subtitles in any language and in whichever region of the country they might be seen in but for English channels, it is another story altogether.The programs are in English, and the subtitles…hold your breath…they too are in English!!! Why?? Beats me!!

Coming to advertisements or commercials, they bore you into personal oblivion. Same commercial, during commercial breaks, is repeated numerous times throughout the day till the time you switch off the telly in disgust. I understand that these commercials provide you huge moolah but I also pay for my entertainment and do not care about your upar se tasty, andar se healthytripe. Samajha????

<< Previous It Happens Only in India (Part 1)

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