Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bhai Log!

Hailing from a Punjabi background, Urdu has come easy to me. Well poor marks in the subject do not count for that has more to do with my inscription than grammar. Since birth , I have been cognizant of the rules on how different urdu words change their forms, combining them effectively to form new sentences. Problems in pronunciation have been there but the issues of intonation, accuracy or fluency never occurred to me. English has never been my strong point and about Punjabi, well the less said the better. So it has always been Urdu that has come to my rescue, in the vocabulary developed under Arabic, Persian and Turkish influence I found complete solace and voluntary freedom on expressing my deepest of ideas and desires. Alas that was all before Karachi happened.

On stepping down at Quaid-e-Azam international airport my innocent dialect was completely oblivious of a stark ‘mutter’ society relishing its clout in the metropolitan. It engulfed me the very first day when I asked an address from a local retailer. Dressed in shabby shalwar kameez and masticating a paan the aloof face kept his eyes fixed on a piece of paper he was reading.On enquiring again his face remained there , only looking up through the pupils, he replied “Maloom nae, bai” and with that he was back at being himself. What was pata nahin in Punjabi had suddenly transformed into maloom nae in Karachi. The word ‘H’ was no longer an emphasis in nahin and bhai. That was four years back, ofcourse now the reality of vernacular has dawned upon me. And it wont be arbitrary to add that somehow Urdu has been quite screwed up down under. Well here are a few examples:

1) Referring to someone as DADA : Now why would anyone like to denote someone as the father of his father completely baffles me. To give respect is one thing; to malign the sanctity of family is other.

2) Confronting an argument by ABAY/ARAY: Firstly someone is refusing to agree with you, secondly he starts by the ever annoying obtuse words. Double minus.

3) Expressing shock with Oh Bhens! : Guys there are many other ways of expressing your astonishment, and no , involving a poor buffalo is not one of them?

4) Advising someone with Mere ko/Tere ko: POOR poor grammer, this is the limit of ridiculing ones mother tongue. Such kind of speakers seriously need to undertake basic Urdu language classes. Maybe a grade one student can help them out.

5) Request someone with Karlio/De diyo: You want me to do something for you, then better take out the irritant ‘i’. Elongating a word only messes it up further.

6) Attendant is your BOSS: Waiters in Karachi find it rude to be referred by their profession. However they have no objection to being called as Boss. Attenders love being pampered.

7) A solution restricted to you is Geeti: A geeti is knowledge about some wisdom or know how only known to you , mostly referred for mind boggling questions in exams.

8) Gayani: Derived from hindu word gayaan , gayani is what you may call someone with a good grasp on a particular subject.

9) Lectures are a real Chabao: Someone boring you to death with his oration is termed as a chewer . So what who did you chew last night?

10) Bhaiya: If by chance you are lucky enough to escape the chants of dada or boss. Bhaiya would complete the cycle.

11) Tafreeh: Salees Urdu word for 'fun'. After all the slangs , comes a pure hyderabadi touch. Usually expressed as shughal, by rest of Pakistan.

More so , Karachiites have a tendency to twist simple words like pen, cap, bag into pain, caip and baig respectively. ‘Aey’ is another word used excessively to address someone. For the residents of this city these are common urdu words used in day to day dealings, but problems arise when you go to someother part of the country taking along this barrage of parlance mistaken for urdu. Stares will be directed, faces made and a disgusted groan can be heard nearby. To them you are like an outsider, someone evil with the intentions of hijacking their understanding of Urdu. So don’t act surprised if you are despised or grumbled upon , hey I did warn you. Once back home I was watching tv with my brother and granpa when my brother accidently changed the channel prompting me to react predictably “Ae dada, chainal kyun change kia?”. I’d let you imagine the consequences.

P.S: A pathan friend gullibly confessed “Hum ne to Urdu bhi navy me a k seekhi hai, aur who bhi Karachi wali!!!