A Gaali in every Gully

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Blogadda's Tangy Tuesday

Gaali

*picture from myindiapictures.com

How hard can it be to speak clean?

Abuse is the new endearment. “Oh dear ***, I so *** missed you.” “Ditto, my dear ***.” Doesn’t it get taxing? I mean, perennially looking for new things to fill those asterisks up?

I met a host of school kids last evening. Sleeves rolled up, socks rolled down, the works. Ah, the going-back-home feeling, I smiled. One of the boys and he was no older than 12 then began: “Wasn’t it fun how I threw the football at that ***’s face?” “Oh we loved his *** when that happened!” They kicked a stone to exemplify how *** the experience had been. I gawked and then realized how I didn’t even know the meanings for some of the things they just said.

It is no wonder where gaalis grow. The beeping idiot-box is hardly a breeding ground. But no one beeps out flimsy books which talk about ‘having fun’ in school; they don’t even beep the Internet out. Truckwallas, bus conductors and even the seemingly suave gent who just stepped out of his car – they all have a rich vocabulary when it comes to filth. I admit I have come across the sober few who, if not more, at least do justice to the oh-you’re-a-woman observation. But there are several who carry on with the gaali-business nevertheless. Nothing like a string of cuss words to trail your vehicle. They keep off potential offenders, you see. New world versions of the nimboo and mirchi.

I find that it is of elementary importance to have a rich quota of gaalis tucked under your belt if you plan to enjoy the city’s nightlife. No matter how good you look in your laciest (or brawniest, as the case may be) outfit, you will only be a misfit if you cannot fire gaalis at everyone: the waiters, the bouncers, the friends, the friends ‘with benefits’. Oh, no one says ‘The F Word’ anymore. Just like no one says “Oh, lets!” or “Yes, please.” anymore. Where do you come from, anyway? The world is now open. Be it gaalis or clothing. Of course, there’s nothing like a sharp, unadulterated Hindi gaali but if you are a novice, a dirty English one might work as well.

Sisters and mothers are a cursed lot. Dogs are now mostly left alone. They sit and laze under a smoky Delhi sky. Perhaps, like me, they too reminisce about the time when “geedar” (jackal) and “bandar”  (monkey) were considered gaalis.
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About Deboshree

~D.B. The one who loves to cook up abstract stories about all and sundry.

47 responses »

  1. Pingback: Talk, baby, talk | Of Paneer, Pulao and Pune

  2. Pingback: Goodbye 2012! | Of Paneer, Pulao and Pune

  3. Hey Deboshree : Very well written article and true to an extent but it just prompted me to write an article with rather different view on the same. Do check out and lemme know what you feel. http://my-owns-space.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/je-to-ab-manne-bhi-pata-hai.html

    Reply
  4. I still remember as a kid how I got scolded when I said Stupid-Idiot to my sis during some fight!!!
    Interestingly usage of these Gaalis (Hindi Ones) are also interesting….In Delhi NCR sisters are cursed more while in my home town or other small cities of UP mother curse is more preferred. :-)
    Also there are many slang which have now made themselves comfortable in our daily conversations …I did a post couple of months back when I first saw that ad of Sprite which sings “Iski kaise le loo main”…Isn’t it a slang which is used so openly??

    Reply
    • Ha ha… even I remember getting a weird look from Mom when someone complained I had given her a ‘gaali’. Apparently, I had told her “sher ka baccha”. Come to think of it, that should have been a compliment. :D
      I agree with your categorization. These vernacular differences make themselves evident in colloquial usage. Oh yes, the Sprite ad. That sort of a phrase has become daal-chaawal, as the saying goes. Times have indeed changed.

      Thanks a lot for dropping by, NBose! :)

      Reply
  5. congrats on the pick :)

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Posts on Mother's Day, History of Blues and many other topics

  7. i’ve been dropping by for a long time. just that i was too lazy to comment earlier. this post sent me back to my good old gaali bhara school days. :p

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  8. can i just say the picture you used is badass?

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  9. My gaalis too like many others mentioned above were restricted to animal names :) I have picked up a few while growing up!! These days I mostly swear at my monitor in office (who else will a coder vent out his/her frustration ;))

    Reply
    • Animal names were so popular! Where have those days gone. :(
      Haha… I can relate to that. Poor monitors! They have to endure so much in the course of a day.

      Reply
  10. My maternal grandfather’s idea of teaching life skills to us grandchildren was swear words. You can imagine the tough time my parents and grandmother had with us as kids ! :-)

    I don’t like using gaalis, though that does not mean that I don’t know them. I am fascinated by the rich variety and commonalities across languages. When I was learning Arabic, I did pick up a few swear words in that language and was surprised to find similarities with our own gaalis.

    Reply
    • Ooh, interesting person your maternal grandfather must have been! :D

      I like the way you brought that up, Sudha. Even gaalis give us something to learn, when you think in terms of a sociological language-unification. Talk about being the optimist. You just motivated me to find out more about gaalis in other languages. ;)

      Reply
  11. I am assuming that ghaali means swearing or cursing, am I right?
    I guess we cant escape those words, especially with TV nowadays. I do use it too sommetimes but only when I am angry not on daily conversation

    Reply
    • Yes Novroz. Gaali is a cuss word in Hindi.
      Seriously, there is no escaping it now. Forget just the TV, I get a great dose every time I venture out. There is always someone firing abuses at someone else.

      Reply
  12. hehe you must know my gaali vocab: mad, pagal, idiot and gadhi/gadha is my fav :)

    I know what you are saying…and what about the movies like Delhi Belly? They are bringing in the gaali culture out in open…there are so many sources..sigh!

    Reply
    • Pagal is classic! Idiot is vintage classic! :P
      Yes, movies today make liberal and generous use of, err, slang. And that is stating it too generously. Sigh indeed.

      Reply
      • I loved that word “Vintage Classic”.. :-)
        me..when driving give all the gaaalis… like.. DOG… rats…idiots.. stupids…donkey.. fools..

        But I get ur point..sadly kids..(school..college ones) find these “beep” words so coool… I fail to understand what’s with censor board that talks about censorship.. etc.. but shows the bad slangs openly on TV’s (so many of them) Sighhh! I miss the doordarshan days…

        Reply
        • :D Hey Dew!
          I too miss those wonderful days when TV was less about beeping and more about entertaining. Sigh. Even with the so-called censorship, everyone knows what the beep is about. I have often felt – the beep is even more emphasis-attaching. Like, the TV may be blaring in the background and you may be working elsewhere. Everything may go unheard but those loud beeps sure do not. If they silence it, the abrupt gap in conversation is evident. So there’s really not much point.

          Reply
  13. I think it’s because of the media portrayal of gaalis being cool.

    But then, I’m no nun myself – Kutte was the extent of my vocabulary when I joined college, now I can keep up an unapologetic flow of gaalis in four languages at the guy in the bus who brushes up against me..

    Ah well..

    Move in June ’12? What is that about?

    Reply
    • Yes, even I agree about that, PV. The media does have its repercussions and gaalis may well be one of those. And by the by, those sorts totally deserve the treatment you mete out. :D It’s becoming harder by the minute to travel in public buses.

      The move, well. :) It is happening next month. I will be writing about it soon. :)

      Reply
  14. I am very uncomfortable with Hindi gaalis. I usually give the English ones because somehow I relate to them. :D
    Well, gaalis are nothing new. I learnt all of them 15 years back in class 8th courtesy by friend circle. But somehow there usage in mainstream cinema has increased. I fear 10 years down the line they will constitute an entire subject in schools. :)

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  15. I agree!! all those beeps!! :roll:

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  16. The ending para is classic! :D

    I quite understand your plight. Nowadays filling up the bleeps and blanks is a task in itself…. how do u keep track anyway! :roll:

    Reply
    • Thank you, Ashwathy! :D
      I know, it can be such a pain. Well, most of the time I just do not try. I am a proponent of the ‘People who litter their speech with so many asterisks can’t have much to say’ theory. :D

      Reply
  17. U r so rt! Mine was a bunch of animal names and I remember the order even today Donkey-Monkey-Buffalo-Dog-Pig :P Mostly showered on the younger sibling ;) I agree with u and Comfy – I like it that these are still my common ones too; only at tmes, I wonder if I am insulting the animal by comparing certain people with them ;)

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  18. :) punjab isthe best place to be to learn some choice gaalis and Bihar tooo.. sadly I have been to both the place a lot so my vocabulary is quiet good .. BUT living here I cant use them sadly … But I make sure not to swear at all.. try my best ..

    Reply
    • Way to go, Bikram. :) It is one thing to have weapons, so to say, in the closet and completely another to put them on exhibit. The latter is what people here do all the time. It really puts me off.

      Reply
  19. err..and my hindi gaali starts and ends at uloo!! Not sure I am even sad about that. I like it like that. :)

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  20. I see a stream of profanity being spewed on my twitter timeline during any of those sporting seasons. All school going kids ( wondering what they are doing on twitter in the first place) and college going lads… using abuses that I haven’t read, seen or heard anywhere before. I don’t follow them but they get retweeted as if they are some ‘words of ultimate truth” that needs to be spread across the universe.
    Sigh! When I think of my daughter growing up in such a world, I feel very very anxious.

    Reply
    • Exactly, Anita. The social media is something. Also, it is the most profane of posts that gets re-circulated. Really weird if you get down to thinking about it. Didn’t the world start out being nice to one’s fellowmen?
      I hope we can keep our future generations shielded from the ugliness.

      Reply
  21. I don’t remember swearing as much back in school. I can actually replace every *** that you’ve put up. :| (not so proud about that)

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  22. Oh? Damn.. I must update my list of gaalis then :P ;) I don’t know that many.

    Reply

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