REVOLUTION, URINATION, NAZIS
Today's Vocabulary Words:
Butterfruit = avocado
Finger Chips = French fries
Jerkin = rain-resistant windbreaker
Is it? = What? / Is that so?
Sweeper = bathroom cleaner / code term for Untouchable or Dalit
NRI = non-resident Indian, or Desi
Recently my friend Patel and I had some illuminating conversations. The first took place on his motorcycle, after we saw the fillum Krrish. P. is wearing a bright red jerkin with the words "I Support the Agricultural Strike" emblazend across the back. We'd just passed one of those three-wheelers with a loudspeaker going full stop. It was so loud you could not make out the words even if you did speak the language. The man was raging about something in Kannada; it sounded something like "BUGABOO BUGABOO BUGABOO-ALOO PINDI BINDI YAYNO BUGABOO-ALOO" and seemed very angry and forceful. You see and hear these things all the time here, but I never know what they're actually saying....
CACA: Is that man calling for the overthrow of the government?
P: Is it?
CACA: What is that voice saying? Is that fellow calling for revolution?
P: What? Revolution? What?
CACA: Is that man calling for a revolution? Or is he telling people to buy lottery tickets?
CACA: Lottery tickets? New government? Which?
CACA: That man on the loudspeaker. What is he saying?
P: Oh! That!
P: (listening intently) They are selling.
CACA: (disappointed) Oh.
AND ON ANOTHER TRIP ON THE SAME ROUTE, AFTER SEEING PHER HARA PHERE:
The motorcycle passes a man standing on the side of the road, facing a field. In his right hand he holds a burning cigarette. In the other is his skin flute, from which spurts a pale yellow stream of urine. The arc is high.
CACA: (laughing) That man is multi-tasking!
P: What? What is funny?
CACA: That man back there! He was multi-tasking!
P: Which man?
CACA: The one who was smoking and peeing.
P: (laughing) Oh. That man. Yes.
CACA: He is mult-tasking.
P: He is what?
CACA: He is doing two things at the same time.
P: (laughing politely) Oh.
Later, at the Kaveri Lodge. P. is still wearing the Commie red "I support the Agricultural Strike" jacket
P: I am glad Italy has won [the World Cup].
P: I like Hitler.
C: (thinking he is mispronouncing someone's name): Is that a player? Is it the goalie?
P: No, Hitler.
C: Adolph Hitler?
P: Yes, that.
C: (annoyed) He was in Germany. Mussolini was from Italy.
P: Is it? No.
C: Yes, Hitler was in Germany.
C: Hitler???? Why do you like him?
P: Everyone knows his name. That is what I want.
C: They know his name because he was evil.
P: What? Some of the things he said I like.
C: What??? Like what?
P: He came from poor peoples and made a name for himself.
C: Yes, by killing many, many people.
C: Don't you know about Hitler?
P: He came from poor peoples and his name is known. I want my name known.
C: That is a bad way to be known. Very, very bad. Hitler was evil. A bad man. Worst man. Killed many people.
P: Is it?
C: Yes. (beat) Who will you kill first? The sweepers? The Brahmins? Which group do you want to get rid of?
C: Hitler rounded up a certain type of person and killed all of them.
C: He killed many people.
C: Choose someone else. Anyone else. What about Mittal (NRI steel magnate)? Tata? (autos, steel, tea, etc.) Murthy? (Infosys). Even Bill Gates would be better.
P: When I become rich I will give to poor peoples, 60/40.
C: Just as long as you don't become like Hitler....
*Hitler is also a brand-name for a gym shoe. I took a snap of a pair outside of Aunties in 2004.... and the photo never turned out. Hmmmmm......
**I told P. to tell Jammu about his love of Hitler (Jammu was raised Jewish). Actually she brought it up after I told her about our convo. She explained it far better than I. She gleaned from him that Hitler is portrayed in movies here as a great military leader, and that was where P. was getting his info. She also talked P into seeing Schindler's List with her. No dancing in that one....