Welcome to the Gun Show

No, not the guns on the guy (although thanks to evil Anil the trainer, he’s got some), the gun behind us.

Weighing 50 tons, it is the world’s largest wheeled cannon, and is still in working condition. It takes four elephants to swivel it around if the enemy happens to be coming from another direction.

It’s only been fired once – for testing – in 1720. It fired a 110 pound ball that went 22 miles. The depression it made in the ground is now a pond. Our guide told us that in that test 200 soldiers lost their hearing and many birds died from the shock wave. So, the plan was, if it ever needed to fired again they would use a longer fuse and have all the soldiers jump into the nearby rain collection pond so that their ears would be under water thereby protecting their hearing. I guess the birds would be on their own. There are also legends that the soldier who fired it died on the spot and that seven other people and one elephant died, that expectant mothers in Jaipur had miscarriages and homes collapsed.

Fortunately, it has not been necessary to fire the cannon again. It is one big gun.


Okay, final (maybe) language lesson.  It’s been my observation thus far that most of the Indian people here who speak fluent English rarely speak only English or Hindi in a single conversation.  Especially when in a social setting where they’re very comfortable with one another. They speak Hinglish.  It’s like what we call Spanglish in the US.  They merge the two and happen to say whichever version of the word or phrase that comes to mind first, or whichever one seems to  fit best or best describe what they’re trying to say.

Even on TV, which sometimes makes me crazy.  Like, at the end of a commercial that’s been completely in Hindi, the actor will suddenly switch to English and say, “I highly recommend this product.  It’s by far the most effective ‘what-ever-he’s-selling’ there is.” And I’m thinking, “Really dude?  Pick a freakin’ language! Just PICK one!” That’s obviously on one of my ‘not-so-go-with-the-flow’ days.  Anyway, as I’m learning some of the words and phrases, I’m beginning to be able to pepper my own speech with a bit of Hinglish.

Much to Nissan’s chagrin, here are my first two faves:  Ek minat and Aacha.  Ek minat is my most powerful.  It means “one minute” and I say it holding up one finger.  So it’s my “hold on a second”, “wait just a minute”, and “HOLD YOUR HORSES”.  “Aacha” is the most fun to use.  It actually means good, or nice, as an adjective in a sentence, but used by itself it can mean “Is that so?” or “Oh really?” So I’m sure that it’s no surprise to those of you who know me well that I enjoy that one a lot, with my sarcastic tone and one eyebrow raised. I think Nissan wishes I hadn’t learned that one.  Yes, Aacha!

Once Upon a Time, a Long, Long, Time Back

Language lesson number two. I’ve also learned that the word “ago” is an unnecessary extra three-letter word in my vocabulary. The word “back” was already there, and works just fine. I was already using it to describe space. Something behind me is “back there”, and if we pass something on the highway and then recall it, then we saw it “a few miles back”.

We use it here in India to describe time as well.

If we moved here two months ago, then we tell people that we shifted here two months back. If it is now 1:05 and we arrived at 1:00, then we say that we got here 5 minutes back only, instead of “just 5 minutes ago”.

And speaking of time, I’ve also learned about “India Time”. Socially, at least, “5:00 onwards” actually means “6:00 until”. There was a sign announcing a ladies coffee in our neighborhood on a particular date 5:00 onwards – bring a snack.

So I dutifully showed up at 5:00 sharp, snack in hand, to find the staff still setting up the tables, and no one else there. “No, ma’am, we start at 6:00” the staff said. So, slightly embarrassed about appearing so eager and doubting my memory, I went back out to the lobby and re-checked the sign. Sure enough, the sign said “5:00 onwards.” Now I was a little confused, so I went back to the flat and texted a friend. Oops, no, I sent her an SMS. We don’t text you here, we “SMS” you. Anyway, I sent an SMS and got back an LOL. “Yes, you were early,” my friend said. “Normally, 5:00 onwards means 6:00. Welcome to India.”

That actually works for me.  If you want me to be on time for something, tell me that it starts earlier than it does, then I might not be very late.  😉

Only isn’t Lonely in India

I’m learning some interesting new ways to use words during my time in India.

One of the new uses is of the word “only”. The word “only” gets a lot of playtime. We use it a lot. “Only” means “simply”, or “just”, and is usually placed at the end of a sentence or phrase.

For example, instead of saying, “I was just sitting here watching TV,” you would say “I was sitting here watching TV only.”

Instead of saying “It is right down the street,” you would say, “It is down the street only.”

“Your wallet is right there” becomes “Your wallet is there only”. If you tell someone that a place is right here in Gurgaon, you say “It is in Gurgaon only”. Now that one can be a bit confusing, you see, if you’re not accustomed to using “only” in that way.

You might think that the place in question cannot be found anywhere else – only in Gurgaon. And that might not be true, or at least not quite what was meant by the statement.

More language lessons on the way, so come back tomorrow. I’ll be here only. 😉