Thursday, November 24, 2005


KannaDigaas (and more or less all the south indians) have their own style of speaking English. It is very simple to ask a confirmatory question by appending a prolonged aaahh or even shorter, aaa. For example, "Did you have lunch?" can be translated to south Indian English as, "Had lunchaaa?", "Took baathaa?" and so on.

I have mentioned a thing or two about our maid servent who comes every other day to clean our house. She is a lady of less words and more actions. More so, since we do not quite understand her (classical) kannaDa. And in return, she does not know Hindi or English. So whataaa? You may ask. She gets the work done. Every alternate day she succeeds in waking us up at awkwardly hours in the morning, and then gets us roll our bedding. She wants most of the surface area clear of any considerably sized objects. For fear of her shouting or frowning at best, I have made it a habit to wake up early and get the house floor ready before she declares her arrival with a sharp double-bell on the door. At the end of the first month, she tought us a new word in KannaDa : "kaassa". I had no clue what she was referring to when she came in on one of the unscheduled days. After a few aggressive shakes of hand and raise of voice, she conveyed the meaning : it meant money!

Now only the other day, she came in and said "aamele aunty water billu" (pardon me for my broken kannaDa, but these are the only words which I could gather). Billu? What does that mean? And what's water billu? First I thought billu meant bucket - she usually takes one bucket of water which she "contaminates" with some solvent before she starts mopping the floor. So I started walking towards the bathroom to see if the bucket was full with hot water, and maybe that was the reason she was upset. But no. She insisted, "water billu" and pointed to a piece of paper. And then the bell rang in my head.

She was asking if we had the water "bill" for the month so that the aunty aamele (upstairs) could pay the due amount. Billu meant Bill after all!

Billaa in maraThi means, a badge! I would have got more confused had she said, water billaa?

Isn't that amusingaaa?

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