ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Unbearable Freshness of Things

In this age when everything is getting increasingly “glocal,” small-town India’s rummy appropriation of the English language is, By God se, downright amusing. 


The small town in Bihar where we had stopped for the night exuded an old-world charm. The chowkidar at the Circuit House was courteous and suitably obsequious. He asked me to go and become “fresh” and then he would lay out dinner since it was already late. Assuming that he wanted me to have a wash, I promptly went and washed my face and came out for dinner in under two minutes. I could not figure out the extremely surprised expression on his face but decided to ignore it. It was only much later that I found out that “fresh hona” in eastern India is the polite cognate for evacuation of the bowels!

Interestingly, the mobility of people from the East, especially in the last few decades, has ensured that this expression is now commonly understood even in North India. Or why else would a popular laxative “chooran” advertise itself as “Easyfresh?”

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