Saturday, December 06, 2008

Of South Bombay Patois and Simi Garewal

"Go to the Four Seasons and look down from the top floor at the slums around
you. Do you know what flags you will see? Not the Congress's, not the BJP's,
not the Shiv Sena's. Pakistan! Pakistani flags fly high...! You know what I
think? We should carpet-bomb Pakistan. That's the only way we can give a
clear message."

I don’t know if Simi Garewal actually made this statement in the TV show “We the People” (but its reported in the venerable Telegraph). I only know that she is a South Bombay person by her above tirade in the aftermath of the terror attack in Bombay. When I was growing up in Bombay in the early sixties and seventies I used to look at these bachchas as the privileged kids of industrialists, the socialites, the movers and shakers, and as people to be held in awe because they had the money, which we didn't have much. When we suburban boys from Chembur (which was literally the back of beyond for them) would go to the English movies in Regal, Sterling and Eros these spoilt children would capture and dominate the lobby and start their peculiar patois which went something like this:

“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii, Dinshawwwww, I thought yaaaaaaaaaa youuu willllll not (the “t” like the finger inserted in a bottle and suddenly snapped out) showwww upppppp only yaaaaaaaaaaa!”

To this Dinshaw would smile shyly adjust his unruly hair and say, “What showwwww upppp yaaaaaaa, I showed up naaaaaaaaa, I was held up in the traffic naaaaaaa? Whatyoutalking, naaaaaa….”

“Hi Jignessssshhhh, I saw you coming hurrrrryyyyinggggg, so, so huuuuurrrrryy-burrrrryyyy yaaaaaaa, why, youuuuu lookkkkk sssssoooooooooooo wildddddd, yaaaaaa!”

Then they would all giggle like girls.

Now when I read Priya Ramani’s column in The Mint I am reminded of those days how we poor suburban boys used to feel so inferior to them, such know alls with their South Bombay patois.

Turns out that now the affluent peoples of South Bombay have been hit by terror, Priya Ramani’s column shows how ignorant the likes of Simi Garewal are. They think that India ends in the north at VT station, in the west at Machimar Nagar, in the east at Taj and Gateway and in the south at Navy Nagar.

They are familiar with London, Frankfurt, New York and Los Angeles and keep dropping names of shopping centres in these destinations where they got their “Aaaarmaaaniiiiiis and Ralphhhhh Laurenssssssss”.

I know, I know, I may be rubbing it in. But I lived among these types (I have a few cousins also ensconced in these areas, who on the few occasions we met disowned me!) and one of my bosses who lived in this area was a big celebrity and social activist and became a big politician in the process, but he still couldn’t get rid of the South Bombay patois.

Now that terror has exposed the underbelly of the South Bombayiite, exercise caution before shooting your pretty mouths off, understand, yaaaaaaaaaa?

("yaaaaa" is actually a corruption of "yaar" or "friend" and "na" in Hindi means "isn't it so?")

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