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Highly Addictive Timepass
By Evelyn - 12 Jan, 2000

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On an evening train ride in the central state of Mahdya Pradesh, I had an impossible craving for a snack I never eat back home—Cheeze-its. Orange squares, crystals of salt, artificial cheese delight. Mmmm, where could I find some of those… Probably not where we were getting off the train, this minor town called Sanchi. Sanchi is famous for its ancient Buddhist stupas built by Emperor Ashoka over 2000 years ago, not imported American snacks.

A day later as we were leaving Sanchi, we passed a small shop with a few select snacks, which I perused carefully. I could not believe what I found. On the dusty bottom shelf were three individual packs of 'Cheezelets'. I would have paid double, but didn't have to so I asked for all three bags. They satisfied; the '-lets' better than the '-its' because the artificial *white* cheddar doesn't make your fingertips bain-de-soleil color.

But the best part was the package design. On the front is a cartoon illustration of Captain Nutwarlal at the controls of a space craft. The comic bubbles read: 'Control tower says 2,1,0 blast off'... 'Captain Nutwarlal busy doing timepass with snax decodes it as 2,1,0 just off and'... 'brings the entire mission to a grinding halt'...'When arrested he speaks bravely: 'Oh bhat! I am innocent even if I am guilty... Thoda adjust karo yaar.' (Hindi).

At the bottom is a message: 'WARNING: Highly addictive timepass. Please kindly adjust.' Someone later demonstrated how it was to be read -- with a South Indian accent. It is decent humor to Indian cricket enthusiasts.

Travelling around in India, you're sure to overhear native English-speaking travellers take pot shots at the Indian usage of English. I'm no better - I've done it too, only because it's hard deciding at the breakfast table between 'cornflack', 'propige', 'loose curds', or 'bolid or skerem eggs'. Typos abound in the English newspapers in India, making articles more sensational. One national paper described India's biggest religious festival—the Kumbh Mela. The journalist quoted that the 2001 festival in Allahabad expects to draw some 30 billion people.

Typos aside, Indian English is as legitimate a form of English as American or Australian English—the Brits would say it is merely another 'bastardization' of their language. Indian English has its own rules of grammar, usage, vocabulary and expressions. That is the extent of my knowledge on the subject.



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