A Madraasi in New Delhi

I had the pleasure of living in New Delhi during the 90s. 1992 to 1999 to be precise. In ’92, I knew no more Hindi than “Mera naam Ashok haii avoor mye East of Kailash mein ragutha hoon”.

But 7 years and a few Pnjaabi friends subsequently taught me how to use expletives as nouns,

(Expletive) ! Idhar aa.

as pronouns,

Usko Bula. (expletive) kar kya raha hai? (where the expletive takes the place of the pronoun “Woh”)

as conjunctions,

Main paas hotha yaar (expletive), merko copy karthe pakad liya yaaru! (where the expletive takes the place of the conjunction “lekin”)

as question marks,

Ho kya raha hai (expletive)

as adverbs,

Main usko (expletive) maaroonga

as adjectives,

Tu aur tera (expletive) gaadi !

and finally, as exclamations.

Usko dekh yaar. (expletive said in a slow and stretched manner)

But all of the above took time to sink in. In my first few years, I felt so out of place in school that I became very defensive and refused to speak Hindi no matter what. Some kids saw it as arrogance, but back in 1992, I was conscious of being laughed at like the actor Mehmood.

But back at home, things were very interesting. For one, it was hilarious observing my grandmother use advanced dumb charades to communicate instructions to the servant maid. So she would essentially go

“3 words. 1st word. Split into parts. 1st part. (Hand wave). No. Not Mozart’s 40th symphony. Yes. Yes. Jhadoo. 2nd word. (aggressive movement of hands). No clue. (facial expressions indicate approval). Yes. Yes. Accha. 3rd word. (more hand movement). No clue. (Bow and arrow movements). Mahabharatha? Yes. Yes. (hand movements request further guesses). A Character in the Mahabharatha? Yes. Yes. Yes. Arjuna? No. Karna? Yes. Yes. Got it. Jhadoo Accha Karna

I am just kidding of course. But you get the picture. It was not easy. She even asked me to buy “Learn Hindi (through Tamil) in 30 days” and I did. And here is my adviced to everybody. If you ever wish to learn a language, never ever buy the “30 days” series of books. They don’t just suck. They vacuum clean.

And then came my Delhi based relatives. And we felt – “Aah. We can now learn Hindi from people who speak Tamil”, and guess what. Most of my relatives spoke a weird language that can only be heard in New Delhi. It is said to have originated in the murky depths of Karol Bagh. It is called Tambramindi.

(Wife asking for 10 Rs from husband at Vegetable shop) Yenna. Oru dus nikaal pannungo

Neenga onnum fikar panna vendaam. Avar maaf panniduvaar.

Dei. School khathamaa?

Exam eppididaa irundhudhu? Che, kela aaiduthu.

Kadaila enna kareed panninna?

And the best of all,

Naa oru kaamaa poittu varen

Update: As usual, the commentspace has outdone the post 🙂 Here’s some more Tambramindi samples.

From Kamesh

There was this mama from Madras, who during the deep delhi winter insisted to his guesthouse keeper – “bahut cold..bahut cold…ladki lao….ladki lao…” (he wanted the fellow to bring wood for the fireplace)

From farkandfunk

Naan dhaan sambhar khatam panniutaen.

Onnaku konjam kude sharam varalai? Chi.

From KK

My dad grew up in Bombay – Matunga, to be precise, which is, or certainly was back then, a Tam Brahm stronghold… He remembers a Tam Brahm lady across the street saying this to a a vegetable seller:
‘Dus aana ko deva to deva, devatta poda!’

From comfortablydumb,

abe payya…ghar pootke aaya kya (did u lock the house)

thayir sadam kharab ho gaya re (the curd rice has gone bad)

kal raat ko tookam nahi aaya (last nite didnt get sleep)

my grandama’s first hindi words..
milkman – maa ji, dood
grandma – kaun bi nahi kaun bi nahi…kal vaa (come tomorrow) (since we had warned her not to open the door and say come tommorrow)