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Allahabad’s pidgin adds flavour to political discourse

The beauty of such slang is that it isn’t offensive. It qualifies more as soft sarcasm. Or humour.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2017 11:12 IST
Vinod Sharma
Vinod Sharma
New Delhi
Allahabadi pidgin,UP elections,Assembly elections
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi during an election campaign in Allahabad on Tuesday.(PTI Photo)

This city that’s also known as Prayag is a great place to be during election time. The people here aren’t in awe of leaders; successive generations having downed countless cups of caffeine with past prime ministers at the legendary coffee house in Civil Lines.

They dissect powerful politicos with ingrained irreverence. Their view of politics enlightens and educates within the bounds of civility. They shrug away cants. Rhetoric impresses them little.

What adds flavour to political discourse is the Allahabadi pidgin, high on mirth and imagery. In local lingo, such coinages are called tanchada. Sample this: kantaap is a tight slap on somebody’s ear; a half-wit is a dabloo (w) dhakeel. A guy perfect in every which way is celebrated as lallantaap.

If somebody calls you a Khochad here, better be informed that you’re being a kill joy or an absolute dud. For instance, a senior Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh is rated a Khochad here. So is a top gun of the Aam Admi Party.

Read: UP elections 2017: All parties say they’re winning. Here’s how they reason

In fact, I instantly took after a young man I met in Allahabad several elections ago when he introduced himself as Murli Manohar Joshi’s LatakFirst. Now what on earth does that mean, I asked. “I was his first hanger on sir, a sidekick if you want,” he explained. “When Joshiji rode a yezdi mobike, I used to ride his pillion.”

To me this man who has since matured with experience and age is a real lallantaap. He has kept contact with me all these years, his short telephonic calls laced with sparkling Allahabadi chinook.

He told me this time that Narendra Modi was Domodar ka Bitwa (Damodar’s son) to many in Allahabad. Remember the PM’s full name --Narendra Damodardas Modi -- and you’d understand the indulgent cheek.

The beauty of such slang is that it isn’t offensive. It qualifies more as soft sarcasm. Or humour. Consider this: when badgered about the sorry state of his party in Uttar Pradesh, a Congressman replied: Hamen kam na samjhen. Bina langot ke kushti lad gaye thei Bihar mein. Chaar seat se badhkar char mantralaya kharbot liye.

The Congress indeed had just four legislators in the previous Bihar assembly. As a partner in the grand alliance that swept the 2016 polls, it has four ministers in the coalition in power.

Kharbot here means grabbing something; like jhanwali dena is another word for being deceptive, cunningly smart or Machiavellian.

The expressions may come across as corny to the stiff upper-lipped. But they’re way more refined than the language deployed by leaders across parties in the ongoing campaign.

Read: Fact check on Modi’s UP election campaign: Truths, half-truths and tall claims

For instance, the PM’s “katta and dupatta” analogy to highlight rapes and goondaism under the Samajwadi Party rule did not go down well in Allahabad. Neither did Akhilesh Yadav’s “donkey” jibe on Amitabh Bachchan. The actor has family roots in the city. He was also its MP once.

Such lowbrow sniper fire misses the target in Allahabad. It hits more the shooters. Qualifying them to be Khochads.

What sells here is the spin -- of Pidgin.

First Published: Feb 23, 2017 07:25 IST