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Common Words and Their Meanings


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#1 john.sw

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 03:46 PM

Auto-rickshaw: noisy, three wheeled taxi known in the Far East as a Tuk-Tuk
Ayurveda: Indian herbal medicine
Baba: Indian wandering holy man, also called a sadhu
Babu: suffix which used to be added to the (usually first) name of a person when addressing somebody formally
Baksheesh: a tip, a bribe or a donation to a beggar.
Bandh: general strike
Bhang: narcotic made from cannabis leaves, particularly popular when mixed with lassi
Bharat: Hindi name for India
Bidi: a tiny amount of cheap tobacco wrapped in a leaf, tied with some string; contains hardly any nicotine but hideous amounts of tar
Bindi: forehead mark worn by Hindus
Brahmin: highest of the Hindu caste, caste of priests
Bukari: wood and coal burning stove/oven
Chai: sugary milky tea.
Chana chaat: salad of boiled chickpeas and potatoes with tomato, onion and spices
Chapati: flat round unleavened bread
Chappals: sandals
Chowk : intersection or sometimes town square.
Crore: 10 million
Dacoit: bandit, robber
Dhaba: cheap eating place, often on the road side
Dharamsala: pilgrim's rest house
Dhoti: cloth wrapped around the waist and pulled up between the legs. Formal menswear.
Diwali: Hindu festival of light
Dosa: large crispy lentil flour pancake, served with chutney
Dupatta: scarf for head or shoulders, worn by women
Eve-teasing: India’s somewhat polite and fluffy term for sexual assault or harassment
Ghat: slope or flight of steps down to a river; range of hills
Ghii / ghi: clarified butter
Gompa: Buddhist monastery
Hartaal: general strike
Haveli: cluster of houses built around a central courtyard
Idli: South Indian steamed rice dumpling
Jalebi: deep fried very sticky sweets, made of sugar, flour and syrup
Jamun: deep purple fruit, similar to a plum
Lakh: 100,000
Lassi: yogurt drink
Lathi: stick, baton used by the police
Lungi: loosely wrapped loincloth, worn by men
Mahatma: lit.: great soul
Mahout: elephant rider/minder
Mata: mother
Mela: religious festival, a fair
Naan: Indian flat bread cooked in a Tandoor
Paan: folded leaf, stuffed with betel nut, lime and spices; chewed and red juice spat out
Paisa: word for money in general, also a 100th of a rupee
Pakora: savoury snack, potatoes and vegetable in batter deep fried
Panchayat: village council
Paneer: Indian cheese, a bit like tasteless Feta cheese
Puja: worship, Hindu prayers.
Pukka: proper, ripe, genuine
Punkah: ceiling fan; before electricity a flat board of cloth pulled back and forth by a "punkah wallah"
Roti: flat round unleavened bread
Sadhu: Hindu ascetic, wandering holy man who denounces worldly goods, travels around India (mostly on foot) and lives by "donations"
Salwar kameez: loose, baggy trousers worn under a long shirt worn by women mainly of the North, by young girls of the South or as an alternative to the sari
Samosa: triangular fried pastry with vegetable or meat filling
Sari: Hindu women's dress, single piece cloth, 5m to 9m long and 1m wide wrapped around the body.
Tandoor: clay oven used for cooking
Thali: tray, steel plate; a plate of simple different dishes (i.e. Daal, veg, rice, chapati)
Tulsi: basil, sacred plant, usually to be found in Hindu courtyards
Wallah: suffix for a person of a certain trade, or from a certain place etc; i.e. Rickshaw-wallah (rickshaw driver), chai-wallah (tea seller), Delhi-wallah (a person from Delhi)
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#2 brigit

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 08:20 PM

one question, in my house Babu means baby, in fact all over Pushkar, a friend who is called Babu and he tells me it means baby.
Is this just a Pushkar/marwati thing?

#3 john.sw

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 10:16 AM

My grandfather's diary on 1909 talks about "making bunderbust" with a young lady (who later became my grandmother).

It means, making an arrangement.

There a lots of Indian/English words, in common usage here, so I thought I'd list a few more.

auto: Auto rickshaw

ayah: someone who looks after children - an nanny or grandmother. Sometimes used to describe a lady housekeeper or caretaker

backside: behind - Are you living backside of that building?

bandh: public strike as a protest

bata: allowance (usually for a labourer) or for a driver who stays overnight with the vehicle
Not to be confused with Bata, the shoe shop

bunk: a petrol bunk - a petrol station.

chappals: slippers or sandals (footwear) where the toes are visible

chit: a fund which a group of people put in a fixed regular amount and one of them wins all the money on a given date

chuddies: the Hindi word for underpants

co-brother: wife's sister's husband - brother-in-law

coming station: the next stop on a train or bus journey as in, What is the coming station?

cool bar: in South India, a stall or shop selling soft drinks or fruit juices. It doesn't mean that they have a fridge, and if they have a fridge there's no guarantee that it is switched on!

cousin-brother: cousin, not an actual sibling

crore: 10 million

cum: also functioning as - ATM-cum-Debit Card, Toilet cum Bath
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#4 jyotirmoy

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 02:44 PM

In north India Babu means a clerk.

#5 Hyderabadi

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 07:37 PM

My grandfather's diary on 1909 talks about "making bunderbust" with a young lady (who later became my grandmother).

It means, making an arrangement.


I've not seen it used in that context but 'police bandobust' is used often, especially in this election season :) .

Bun´do`bust
n. 1. System; discipline.
He has more bundobust than most men.
- Kipling.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.

http://www.thefreedi...y.com/bandobast

Eg:

Elaborate transport bandobast for poll personnel in Capital

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: The Returning Officer of the East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, S. S. Ghonkrokta, has made elaborate transport arrangements to ensure a smooth conduct of polling on May 7 and counting of votes on May 16.

http://www.hindu.com...50157100400.htm
Sekhar

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#6 john.sw

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 04:45 PM

Delhi Belly: a stomach upset - this is very popular with foreign tourists visiting India

dhobiwallah: Washerman or laundryman who normally washes clothes in a river to ensure that the pockets are full of twigs, leaves, etc.

doodhwallah: Milkman. Milk seller.

drumstick: A long thin vegetable, Mooringa olifera, that grows on trees - said to be the natural Viagra

eve-teasing: Sexual harassment of females, including whistling, catcalls, and showing off

ghat: 1. a river bank, 2. steps alongside a river (a bathing ghat), 3. cremation grounds, 4. mountain ranges along the east and west coasts of India i.e., Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats

godown: A warehouse or commercial store

good name: Translation from the Hindi "shub naam". As in "What is your good name?"

hotel: Any restaurant or place to eat; not necessarily a place to stay

ISI Mark: A symbol of quality, certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Fake goods, such as Rs.200 crash helmets, also carry a fake ISI Mark.

jaggery: Unrefined coarse sugar, delicious on porridge

ji: A Hindi suffix used as a mark of respect, as in Auntieji and Ghandiji
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#7 jyotirmoy

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 04:57 PM

Agmark: Certificate of purity for edible goods
Challan: Police notice issued for petty offence like red light jumping
Chotu: Young apprentice in places like automobile repair shop
Galata: Commotion
Lafra: Trouble
Seedha haat: Right hand
Ulta haat: Left hand
Chai paani: Petty bribe

#8 torryquine

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:03 PM

Jogargh - a quick fix, a pragmatic solution or most alarmingly - a piece of unorthodox engineering.

#9 iwanttogoback

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 10:25 AM

i don't know, i quite like the idea of a spot of unorthodox engineering. ;)
just is.

#10 Hippie at Heart

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 02:09 PM

Jogargh - a quick fix, a pragmatic solution or most alarmingly - a piece of unorthodox engineering.

Jug-aad is just not the word but a way of life in here. Have a look, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jugaad and there are so many other examples that usually go unnoticed. Taiwan and china reverse engineer many machines and produce duplicates but in Punjab you can order for a CNC turning machines the size of a truck and nothing reverse engineered about them, they cost 5 times less then the original and doesn’t look anything like them but works equally good for manufacturing processes that don’t require zero tolerance finish.
Lighters that refill again, breakshoes with reinstalled liners, methane pipes buried in landfill and connected to a gas stove in nearby shovel, recycling and refitting of components till they reach their logical end of life, list just goes on… ;)

Edited by Hippie at Heart, 15 May 2009 - 02:15 PM.

Hippie is a State of Mind; not a cult of Bounders.

#11 torryquine

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 02:00 AM

Oh brilliant! Thanks for the spelling, mine was the best I could muster from hearing the word. Some of my own favourite examples of jugaad .....

http://www.flickr.co...57604139222086/

http://www.flickr.co...57616283051293/

I do love the pragmatism of these things, but my alarm comes from my professional involvement in safety engineering ...... ;)

#12 jyotirmoy

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 10:23 AM

When I first came to Delhi in the early 70's I was amazed to see Harley Davidson bikes powering Phat phatis(large auto rickshawa), then I found out that practically all parts of the original bikes were replaced by locally manufactured parts, that is hell of a jugaad.

#13 cyberhippie

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 01:26 PM

Time Pass : A term tha tencapsulates many ready excuses for male Indians to waste time in a most productive way.

Here's a little explanation.

No I'm not writing about a chocolate biscuit. I just thought I'd say a few words on that time honored and most Indian way of getting through the day.......... time pass

This is something every traveler, sees every day. Though many won't be aware of what is happening right in front of them. The Rickshaw Wallah in the back seat of his auto rickshaw, the thin guy in white, stretched out in front of his shop,, a gaggle of red coated "coolies" squatting by the rail track, the bearded character asleep atop his motorbike, men squatting by the side of the road, a bidi pinched between their fingers, staring into space, Waiters stretched out on tables, Groups of men playing cards, propping up walls or chugging a beer. Yep all are engaged in time pass!

Time pass a colloquialism that validates the lazy care free existence of the men who use it as a catch phrase and reason to do.......well nothing. A simple term, it's used as an excuse or indeed a validation for all of the above scenarios and many more besides!!

Where's the food I ordered, "oh sir cook is having time pass" but I need my gas cylinder TODAY "yes Yes but delivery wallah is making time pass sir, will tomorrow be OK? Buying a train ticket, after time pass sir PLEASE, as he applies the balm to his forehead!
Even on entry to India I've seen the immigration guy glued to his seat in the passports booth, still managing 5 minutes time pass every 10 customers. The elaborate display of pen tapping, stamp orderliness and cleaning of his monitor screen, belie the real craft of time pass.
Mata Ji looking for wayward husbands will find them in the bar or involved in a full contact card game on some sheet under a palm tree. Again time pass is the culprit.
A half finished masala..............wife knows who to blame time pass, Leaking roof........ time pass, wayward goat...........Guess what?

I've even heard the term half mumbled, amidst the thwack of the stick Mrs Patel uses to beat her husband home from his wayward wanderings, unimpressed by the bleating of time pass my dear time pass

Government both central and State also bring their brand of time pass to the arena, usually riding around looking important in an ambassador with a red rotating light!! The scale of these "official convoys" is such that it provides opportunities for many more to join in with this official time pass

It will be obvious to most of you by now that time pass doesn't span the genders. It's very much a male dominated past time.

The women of India will tell you their life doesn't allow for such gratuities. There's the small matter of Working the land, feeding the family, household chores, making the masala, fixing the roof and finding their wayward husbands. engaged in time pass in some shady part of the village Oh and where's that bloody goat

Time pass an India institution............and a chocolate biscuit



#14 sarasmile

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 11:46 PM

These are all very helpful suggestions for commonly used phrases. I wonder if there should be a sub thread for regional dialects or something? It would also be great to have the phonetic pronunciation for the words.
On my last vacation I stayed at the best External Link Removed.

#15 Anna Ruth

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 04:52 PM

You have share very nice post, I really appreciate you post and I would like to thanks for sharing.

#16 DianaBlues

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 05:33 PM

Guys I had a very comfortable and splendid stay at The Lalit in Srinagar, India and the weather there was cherry on the icing. Check out the pictures on this link...
https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/TheLaLit.Hotels.Palaces.and.Resorts

#17 Anna Ruth

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:53 PM

This is really very good collection of common words and this cane help the people who do not know the Hindi language. I really appreciate your post.
Thanks for sharing my friends