Rahul Da Cunha: Yo bro whattup?

Rahul da CunhaIn ‘Incredible India’, I’m getting increasingly confused with the English language. Stuck between this new weird Hindustani style word-play and the cryptic coolness of hipster-speak, I’m perplexed.

Take the former — you go through eleven years of an English medium school to learn perfect ‘Angrezi’. Then one day it is announced that the key phrase to galvanise both multinational and domestic growth is ‘Make In India’.


Illustration/Uday Mohite

Not ‘Made In India’ or ‘Make it in India”, but yes, the grammatically incorrect ‘Make in India’.

In sharp contrast to this, there’s ‘the yo young vocab.’ The other day I learnt a new word not found in any dictionary — neither Webster or Oxford. The word is ‘totes’. ‘T’, ‘o’, ‘t’, ‘e’, ‘s’ — totes. Not ‘tote’ as in a ‘tote’ bag. But ‘totes. Short form for apparently, ‘totally’.

I mean it’s not as though a new word for ‘totally’ has been created. Like say, ‘fitzwsh’ or ‘haanfiz’. This is ‘totes”…three syllables short of the original word.

So, here’s how it’s used in a sentence —“Do you think Leo DiCaprio deserved the ‘Best Actor’?”

‘Oh yeah, totes!”
So, I walk into a ‘happening’ party. The kind where the glitterati rub shoulders with the chatterati, who are listening intently to the literati.

A novelist turned-poet-cum-peach farmer asks me intensely — “Do you think Sonam Kapoor pulled off the role of Neerja Bhanot convincingly?”

I show off my new vocab, like one would the new iPhone 7.

“Totes”.

He scowls at me and quite rudely says, “Whateves!”, swivels around and walks away.

I am blown, I am petrified. “What is ‘whateves’?”

I mean, I’ve heard of “whatup’, but what’s ‘whateves’?

The head of a new Lit-Fest, one of many millions mushrooming all over Mumbai, informs me, condescendingly.

“You don’t know, ‘whateves’, huh…it’s the new word for ‘whatever’.”

I mean, ‘whateves’ is the same number of characters as whatever…so what’s the story?

You see I’ve lived through many phases of changing lingo.

The nonsense of ‘dat, dis dere’ for ‘this, that and there’. ‘Awesome’ became ‘ossum’, like a Tasmanian marsupial without the ‘p’. Then there was the ‘no worries’.

So like — “Thanks so much for saving my life!”

“No worries.”

Matlab, I’m not worried…I mean I was worried about dying. I am worried about Kanhaiya Kumar’s doctored video, I’m worried that Yuvraj is so past his sell by date, but we can’t retire him.
Just say ‘You’re welcome’ na?

But hey, I’m digressing. If we may return to ‘totes’.

Dear older reader, please understand, the word ‘totes’ is used for only the word ‘totally’.

Like you cannot say, what’s the ‘totes’ amount that the salaried class are being taxed on PPF?

Like you cannot say, India is slowly becoming a ‘totes’ state. Or Donald Trump wants to turn the U.S. A. into a ‘totes’ state.

You get the difference?

It’s ‘obvio’, no?

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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