So when I started up this blog, I decided that I wasn’t going to bother translating the odd term for you as I figured it’s an opportunity to add some new words to the vocabulary. But I’m not that cruel, so we have this glossary. I reckon you could chuck the odd word in to a sentence once a week. Of course, you must tell me how it went …

Ba: Mother
Bhai and I call Mum, Mum. But Jay and Aesha call her Ba which is also what Bhai and I called our paternal grandmother.

Bapuji: Father
That’s what Bhai and I call our father. So we had Mum and Bapuji. I remember telling Mrs Holmes, my primary school teacher, something about Bapuji and she got confused and kept thinking I was talking about a bird (my brother just explained to me that she probably thought (with my teeny NZ accent) I was saying ‘budgie’).

Ben: Sister
I don’t have any sisters but I do have a cousin older than me who I call Ashaben. Mama is younger than Mum so he calls her Ben.

Bhai: Brother
I only have one brother and I call him Bhai. Aesha only has one brother and she will call him Bhai too. I also call most of my male cousins who are older than me [name]bhai, so I have a Navinbhai. This should go for anyone who is your generation but older than you – but I haven’t really followed that unless they’re significantly older than me.

Bhajan: Hymn or devotional song.

Bollywood: Hindi films, originally from the Mumbai (formerly Bombay – hence Bollywood) area, but this isn’t neccessarily the case anymore. This can get tricky (after looking after the Bollywood Dance Competition in Wellington, I should know) as there are also film industries in India producing films in Tamil, Bengali, Gujurati and I’m sure a heap of other dialects – but as they aren’t in Hindi, they aren’t Bollywood.

Desi: Hindi slang for someone of Indian descent. I think that it translates to being “from here” where as paridesi is some who is “not from here” i.e. a foreigner.

Foi: Paternal Aunty
This could be your actual Foi (which counts all of your parent’s cousins/relations no matter how far removed), you’re dad’s friend or your parents Foi. Bapuji has two sisters so I call them Pushpafoi and Kamufoi, however my brother only has me as his sister so Jay and Aesha only call me Foi.

Fuaji: Married to Foi

Kaka: Paternal Uncle
Also Chacha in Hindi (Kaka is Gujurati). This could be your actual Kaka (same rule as Foi), you’re dad’s friend, you’re parent’s Kaka or any unknown/unrelated male elder. If you have more than one actual kaka and none of them are older than your dad then you would call them [name]kaka for instance I have a Bharatkaka and and Kanukaka. The same applies to your dad’s friends etc.

Kaki: Married to Kaka.

Mama: Maternal Uncle
This could be your actual Mama (same rule as Foi), you’re mum’s friend or your parents Mama. Mum has only one brother and I call him Mama. I also call her cousins Dhirumama and Naranmama and Bapuji has an uncle who I call Rameshmama.

Mami: Married to Mama

Masha: Married to Mashi
Pronouced Masa.

Mashi: Maternal Aunt
Pronounced Masi (there is a cafe in Wellington on Willis St called Masi, every time I used to pass it I’d giggle and imagine some big auntie in a sari, behind the counter, telling you off for not eating properly). This could be your actual Mashi (same rule as Foi), you’re mum’s friend, you’re parent’s Mashi or any unknown/unrelated female elder. My mum has no sisters but the only person I do call just Mashi, is Bapuji’s actual Mashi. He also has a Manimashi. I call Mum’s friends Ratanmashi and Pammashi. The same rules apply as for Kaka.

Masala: A mix of spices.

Maupuia: A suburb in Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and where my family home is. Our house was the fourth stand alone house built on the hill and my family the first Indians there. Designed my parents (modified by the builder to make it compliant) as their dream house on a hill that no one wanted to live on. No one. One my parents friends thought the house would slide down the hill (he obviously never imagined what Evans Bay Parade would turn out to be). Now everyone wants to live here and there are more Indians than I can think of (there was even another Sonal once too – she’s a few years younger, she went to the same schools and probably had to suffer being asked if she knew me – I’m really sorry kid) … Mum also wants me to mention that she’s the longest living resident on the hill.

Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand: Really, you should look some things up for yourself.


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