Sounds and Letters

CIMG4557As you already might have guessed by my writing I am not a native English speaker. But even for someone like me it is quite amusing to read signboards and restaurant menus in India. Not even the word restaurant is spelled properly in most of the cases and sometimes you need a bit of fantasy to find out which items on a menu are actually available; to be hundred percent sure, better ask the waiter!

For instance I could find Paper Chicken, Milk Snakes, Tomato sauce with wild herpes

and (sorry for using this word but this was literally written):

Diet Cock.

The real meanings of the last examples are still pretty understandable. My favourite one though, which left me really clueless was:

Smashed over Gin

Although it appeared in the food section, I pictured in my mind a delicious cocktail with high alcohol content, which comes along with a really nasty hangover for the next day. Eventually I asked the waiter about that dish and found out what it actually meant:

Mashed eggplant (which turned into my favourite Indian dish… maybe I should post the recipe one day; it’s a very nice veg dish for the barbecue season).

Public signboards can be equally interesting: One day I saw a man standing lost in thought in front of a promotional signboard for Ayurvedic treatments. As I walked by, he stopped me and asked:

“Sorry, may I ask you something? What the hell are body-eyes?”

Til this day it remained a mystery to me, and probably to the wondering man as well.

Another curious thing in India is that you can find plenty of wine shops, which sell all kind of alcoholic items, except wine. Once I accompanied a friend who wanted to buy vodka for his birthday party. On his question, which vodka was available, the shopkeeper said: “White Mischief, Criminal or Magic Moments”.  Of course, his choice was Magic Moment. Anyways, more than one of these shops I saw had the following advertisement in big letters painted on the front wall:

CHILD BEER

–interesting-

what was meant, of course, was “chilled beer”.

Even in our small village a local travel desk came up with a pretty curious tourist attraction in their brochure: “Birth watching” (Bird watching). Maybe I should have applied there before giving birth to my daughter; some extra rupees are always welcome 😉

One more thing to get used to, if it is your first trip to India, is the Indian accent. For instance many people pronounce the “s” as “sh”. So don’t feel offended, when a local asks you to take a seat and tells you:

“please, shit here!”

The “f” sound as we have it, does not really exist in Hindi. They use a “P” followed by a weak “h”; that made me witness of a never-ending conversation between a traveler and an Indian while sipping my tea in a small chai shop. The topic was piss; but what the local actually meant was fish.

“Yes, Ganga inside, you possible find much piss!”

It still makes me smile, when I think about the bewildered facial expression of the backpacker, which only faded away as they finally ended up resolving the little misunderstanding.

Another curious phenomenon is that India has the power to change your English. Something that worried some of my Spanish friends before coming to India for the first time was that they thought their English was not good enough to get along with. But in the contrary, after only some weeks, they spoke it very well and had no problems at all to make themselves understand. On the other hand, my native English-speaking friends were asked after their return from India, why they were talking so strangely.

My own English was pretty okay before coming to India; but eventually I caught myself speaking like a caveman; instead of saying for example:

“Could you please show me this item?”

I would just point at something and say

“Me want this!”

With this spirit, let’s conclude this post with the statement on the following picture:

World Piss unitey!

World Piss

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