Monday, September 25, 2006

one of many wtf moments...

...I have many. But this one deserves sharing. Also it's short. It happened yesterday.

I was in the coffeeshop down the street--one of those chains, Coffee Cafe Dry or something. You know the one? With their bright red, Coca-cola table shades, and fabulous 80s/early 90s American music blasting. Red and blue uniformed workers serving lattes to young people and expats who are chatting it up on their shiny mobiles. So anyway, I went in not for coffee--but for their oily, veggie samosas. And as I've done a thousand times, I ask for some tamarind sauce. It was at this moment that all 5 Coffee Cafe employees turned to me with these identical expressions of confusion. "Tamarind?," one queried as if I was asking for some cocoa-drizzled pakoras. "What is that?," another asked me. Mind you, not "We don't have any." or "We don't carry tamarind." But "We don't know what you are asking."

What the fuck?

I said, "What do you mean what do I mean? You know what tamarind sauce is? With the samosa? Tamarind?" They all wobble-headed at me.

So my question to you, my fickle readers, am I alone here in thinking this is way weird? Maybe it's not called tamarind sauce? Maybe I should have said chutney? But I don't like green chutney. I like the tangy sweetness of tamarind only. *Sigh*

I've been reading Gautam Malkani's Londonstani--a book I am loving. It's hugely fun to read language that cackles with perfect desified, gangsta speak--almost surreal in how well it works. I'm about two-thirds into the book, and yes--there's an annoying tendency to blame all stubborn irrationality in the name of tradition on our Indian mothers, aunties, and sisters. But I forgive the book's steeply masculine take on things--it's too much fun to read. Under normal circumstances, I would attempt a book review. But I totally don't want to. Instead, here's a link to Jabberwock's excellent review.

So anyway, my long-winded reason for bringing up Londastani, was so I could explain why I've been standing around street corners thinking, "goddam, poncey khota," everytime some fool pretends I am not standing in front of him, and walks right into me. Bhanchod phendu asking for a thapparh.


Blogger SuperKat said...

Sonia, I miss you in the kitchen! I'm glad you're doing so well.

And yes, that's definitely a WTF moment. The fact that none of them even knew what it was...I dunno...maybe they should've stuck with coffee.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous R Pereira said...

It's called imli(=tamarind)chatni. I think we use "sauce" for the factory-bottled stuff like tomato ketchup and Maggi's chilli-garlic etc., not homemade concoctions.
People rarely use English words for food, even if they exist, so people may not know what tamarIND is, even if it's native to India.
I'm from Bombay, now in North Carolina

3:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lost you when you started speaking in some hindi mixed dialect. What is "poncey khota" and "Phendu" and "thapparh". Did you mean Thapdah as in slap? Is your hindi changing from bombay hindi to Banglorean gotala?


8:41 AM  
Blogger Sony Pony said...

SuperKat: The minute you said kitchen, I felt the now-familiar stab of homesickness. I miss our Namaste House:( It's ridiculous how sick I am for the US. Ridiculous, but getting better:) Hope Grad school and work is going well!

R. Pereira: No wayy that no one in that coffeeshop didn't know what tamarind is! No way that me saying tamarind sauce wouldn't have made sense in anyyy Indian restaurant. Maybe sauce is a bit weird, maybe tamarind chutney, but I am sorry, that totally doesn't explain it. Indian people definitely know tamarind is, and you don't have to say Imli. Thanks for the Imli tip, I'll try it next time. It can be a samosa-based, sociological experiment:)

Toms: It's from Londanstani. This cool book I'm a readin'. They keep saying things like, "Khota" and thapparh..Go read it, it's like..good or something. Bahout acha.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first time I heard someone call chutney as sauce, I was confused beyond measure. But as there is no real equivalent in the English language for chutney, I suppose sauce is a close enough approximation, though still confusing to natives. Seems like a NRI/Amrikan thing...

tamarind sauce? lol.

7:15 PM  

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