Posted: August 26, 2011 in Intake, People
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m a Punjabi and Rags is a fraud-Telugu-Tamil combine. (For my non-Indian readers, our home towns are as far apart as Barcelona & Copenhagen with equally different languages or New York & Miami.)

Over the 4 years that we’ve been together, we’ve developed a liking for certain foods from each other’s regions. I like visiting Saravana Bhavan as much as she does and she fights me for an unfairly large share of Dal Makhni, Butter Chicken and Rajmah. This love of each other’s home cuisine, however, doesn’t extend to the languages. She can barely speak half a dozen words of Punjabi (most learnt from Jab We Met which she saw 32 times) and my Tamil ends at Vannakam.

Yesterday, we got Rajmah Chawal for dinner and it was time again to fight for our shares. Being the true, original Punjabi in the house, I lay claim to all of Rajmah. Not to be beaten easily, she responded that she too is a Punjabi. Smilingly, I asked her to prove it by saying a full sentence in Punjabi1. After mumbling a bit, she spits out … que tal.

*burst of laughter from both of us*

After I’d stopped laughing, I told her that I’d still share half the Rajmah with her if she could tell me a close Punjabi word for ‘que tal‘. (‘Que Tal?’ is a Spanish greeting for ‘What’s up?’.)

She took a while thinking about it. I half expected her to know the word2 I was looking for since that’s how I & most of my Punjabi friends meet each other, and she’s mostly around.

She thinks.

Thinks some more.

And just as I’m about to give up, she shouts out full on with excitement and in proper Punjabi accent .. ‘Kudiye!‘ (Punjabi for ‘girl’)

I fell off the chair laughing. Almost. (I’m fat so it’s not so easy to fall off. But almost did.) Both of us had a hearty laugh for a long while.

After we’d recovered from the painful, long bout of laughter, I gave her another chance. Easier this time: Just tell me a valid word in Punjabi.
She got it right this time: Puttar. But that’s mainly because I call her that a lot of times. She couldn’t give me the meaning though – kid, son, or even daughter.

That did earn her about 40% of the Rajmah though, and me a lot of entertainment :)

1. For a non-Indian, this constant use of ‘Punjabi’ might be confusing, so here’s a clarification: The word is used both for people from Punjab as well as their lingua franca. Much in the same way as people from England are ‘English’ as is their language ;)

2. The word I was looking for was Kiddan, meaning broadly, ‘How are you?’ but used in similar occasions as Que Tal.

  1. ~j~ says:

    That brought a smile to my face. And now I’m craving for some yummy rajmah-chawal… Damn you!

  2. Jina says:

    Do I get brownie points if I tell u I knew all those words n the meaning??..;)

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