David Cameron, the British Prime Minister was here last week, chatting with Infosys employees. A British tabloid reported that given the shifting world economic order, maybe he was interviewing for a job. But Mr Cameron doesn't really need gainful employment, not because he's Prime Minister, but because he's "proper posh", the very definition of new British aristocracy. With Eton and Oxford and proper pedigree, he is like a new age Earl and Viscount and Lord and Duke rolled into Prime Minister. Sort of like 21st century-landed gentry that can mix Chaucer-reading with eating Tikka Masala.
Therefore, when asked on TV the ridiculous question of whether the British would return the Kohinoor (which doesn't sit with the government but the Crown), he politely responded: "I'm afraid it's staying firmly where it is", with the confidence of a man who knows he will inherit a cultivable land, no matter how that response goes down with a new superpower on the rise.
Maybe there is logic to wanting a piece of one's colonial history that was stolen. If, that is, one wants to avoid all shifts in socio economics in the last 100 years and cling onto the simple logic of a child that all colonisers were thieves. But the same childish logic can be applied if Mr Cameron said please give us back the railways, the civil service, Luyten's Delhi and this language we are speaking in. Now, apart from the second one which may not be bad to return, the others seem critical to who we are. Except, if we returned English to him, he may not recognise it as the one they left behind.
Here then, is a glossary of terms from our English, thanks to contributions from friends (the first one is courtesy playwright Rahul da Cunha). I have tried to write explanations, but I do not think David Cameron will recognise it as anything he understands. Just like most of the time, we have no idea what an English person under 30 is saying, mainly because it's random accented vowels with cheers at the end of everything. (Example: A'ight', cheers)
How's You?: A slick combination of How Are You and What's Up, in a valiant effort to appear young and trendy.
Rajeev this side: Usually said on the phone. It literally means the person saying it is on that side, physically. It has nothing to do with taking a side (for that, see stance (n)). Sometimes, it is said in person, across a table, implying the same thing. It can get awkward because you're not sure if you have to acknowledge your side too.
From where to where he's gone: Meaning success. It never implies anyone physically going anywhere. It's our way of talking about becoming something in life. Also, sometimes substituted with "He's become a big man" which is also never a reference to size.
It's coming up like anything: Meaning development. Usually in reference to neighbourhoods westernising. Can also be used with individuals in show business and used as a substitute for 'appear' (Eg: You came in that ad, He came in that movie etc.)
Continental Food: Nobody on this or any other continent, knows what this means. It's any dish that has no defined national roots and if the chef does not feel like finding out (see also sizzler, (n) which doesn't mean anything).
Mind-blowing: Does not involve any violence to your head. A substitute to "wow".
Perhaps we could trade. Mr Cameron can give us the Kohinoor. And he can have this language back.
Anuvab Pal is a Mumbai-based playwright and screenwriter. His plays in Mumbai include Chaos Theory and screenplays for Loins of Punjab Presents (co-written) and The President is Coming. He is currently working on a book on the Bollywood film Disco Dancer for Harper Collins, out later this year. Reach him at www.anuvabpal.com