‘Haanji’ – where the n is not silent

Image‘Haanji’ – where the ‘n’ is not silent – was the first Hindi word I learned in Delhi. I have used it almost every day since. It now forms a major part of my Hindi vocabulary – whether used as a question or a term of acknowledgement.

For those unaware, I can’t speak Hindi. I sound like a foreigner trying to ape a typical Maharashtrian speaking Hindi in a Marathi accent. When I start a sentence in Hindi, I often can’t finish it so I don’t. I stop halfway, thus leaving the other guy extremely confused with the turn of events. I just walk away in embarrassment.

But with all my enthusiasm to adapt, I have decided to give our beloved national language another go – Dilli style. The second word… not word exactly but mannerism that I picked up on was how they always end their verbs with ‘io’.

For example – “Arey bheeya, woh butter chicken idhar de DIO ”

I followed suit with the autos– “Aagey left pe rukiyo; Chhuttay Khullay de dio; Ek kaam Kariyo…”

My latest project is the word ‘Pateela’. It translates into a large utensil, apparently. I’m on the hunt for a vehicle of usage.

Talking about languages, I really missed speaking in Marathi. Every conversation I spied on, my ears had an involuntary alert sense for any Marathi word. Just when I thought I had zeroed in on some Marathi speakers, I heard a ‘haanji’ and a ‘panchor’ and was left disappointed. I called up my friend – Saurabh –every once in a while and we hurled the most vulgar Marathi abuses at each other. But it just didn’t hit the spot (Sorry re Zh***ya). I was always left wanting more. Till last weekend that is.

Through this very blog, I reconnected with my first ever girlfriend from Pune, after eight years. As soon as I found out she was in Delhi, we met. In flowed the alcohol and out flowed the Marathi. It was a dam that burst.

Language apart, it was great seeing Sanskruti after our stupid yet innocent childhood romance. She comes from a traditional Maharashtrian family. This coupled with her Abhinav School upbringing put her in the traditional stereotype. She was a saint then. She is not a saint now.

It was fun catching up with her. We spoke of that awkward time when I couldn’t speak Marathi and she was not too well versed with English. Hence, our conversations would often be a back and forth of two languages – she spoke in Marathi while I replied in English. Of the time when we were too shy to kiss each other. We were only 15. Of the night I proposed to her on a moonlit night in Lakshadweep, where the seashore was lined with the blue sparkle of the glow-worms and the foam of the waves tickled our feet gently.

It’s always interesting when you rekindle old associations. It was especially interesting when my oldest and closest friend moved into my flat. Anupam has been my best friend for some 20 odd years and now he was to become my roommate. I didn’t know what to expect. But better him than anyone else, I thought (Sorry re Zh***ya).

It has been a little weird but quite normal overall. I have been introduced to some harsh realities about myself. I’m a cranky old woman on the weekdays.

“Close the tap of the bum-shower!”

“Stop digging your nose”

“Unpack your suitcase. It’s been a week”

“Sleep early man”

“Wake up earlier! You’re making me late for work”

I’m trying my best to ease up on the nagging. It’s even more embarrassing now that I am writing it down and seeing it for myself. But don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m the wife in this relationship. My significant other sends me messages like “When are you leaving from work?”; “When are you coming home?” and this is the clincher – “Are you going to be home for dinner tonight?”.

I have, however, been a good husband and showed him around what little I do know of the GK II area. I introduced him to the crude, crass Auntyji who makes you feel right at home. Auntyji, who has coined a new nick name for me. I’m now ‘Master’ because she has prophesied “Tu naukri chhodega. Tu Master karegaa…Padhai bahut zaroori hain! Ab bol, tera Kohhhn Phlek du kya Master?”

He was happy with the introduction to such a whacky character. He was even happier when I took him out for some panipuris golgappas. The golgappas in Delhi are to die for. Delhi is defined by its golgappas. Every man in Delhi wants to show that he has bigger golgappas. Whether it’s via their steroid-injected arms or their tyre-screeching overtaking manoeuvres, it’s all about the alpha male.

So far so good.

Thanks SS.

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20 thoughts on “‘Haanji’ – where the n is not silent

  1. Welcome to Delhi!! Just stumbled upon your blog and I’m sure I’ll be spending some time here….coz ur narrative is super fluid and witty….loved this post!!

  2. Kabir .. u made me giggle specially the husband wife part !! I have stayed in Mumbai and Delhi and I am neither a Punjabi nor a Marathi .. so i know where you coming from ? hhaha.. HaaN ji is quite peculiar there and sentences ending with O 😀 like in Mumbai it was A or aa !! hilarious read !! hopefully u keeping your wife happy 😀

  3. Mandrya, as usual, loved your blog and I can see a author in u, already. As far as the language is concerned, Delhi will teach u more. ‘O teri’, ‘Aisi ki taisi’, ‘Jhuggi’ and ‘Arey yaar’ are a few common ones. Hope to see you there when i come home. Cheers

  4. I agree with most people here, you’re blogposts are s damn well written that reading them has become my new way of avoiding work. I also picked up the not silent ‘n’ within my first few weeks in Delhi. Didn’t you notice when you went to Delhi for the commonwealth games? The ‘io’ is the most annoying part of Delhi Hindi I think. In fact it does not spare me even in Birmingham, the mini Punjab of UK.

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