I grappled with the meaning and usage of a number of words when I moved to NOIDA in 2009. For example, pancher, pincher, and paincher – all mean puncture. Go figure!
But something very peculiar happened one chilly November evening. I was doing the dishes when someone started pounding away at my door. I opened the door, to find a harried-looking man, quite upset about something for sure.
Man: Mera ghoda kahaan gaya?
Now, in all my 31 years of notoriety, I’d never successfully made a ghoda (horse) go missing. So, I responded in an amused-yet-pacifying don’t-you-worry-your-horse-will-come-back tone.
David: Aapke ghode ko maine nahin dekha hai. Aapne kahaan baandh rakha tha?
Man: Nahin dekha? Nahin dekha! Dus din se yahin par to tha!
He pointed to a location in my verandah. He seemed to be getting very worried. This had to be something serious. Either he was lying about a horse in my verandah – or I had turned horse-blind and couldn’t see something as large as a horse parked in my verandah since the last ten days.
David (testing him): Maine to nahin dekha. Kaunse rang ka tha?
Man: Kaise ajeeb sawaal poochthe hain aap, ji!? Ghoda jis rang ka hota hai – wahi rang ka to hoga! Aapke ghar ke andar to nahin hai?
I was getting a little worried. A don’t-you-worry-your-horse-will-come-back approach was not going to help in this situation. This man was convinced that his horse had gone missing from my verandah. Now, there were two huge marriage halls nearby, and they made extensive use of horses for each wedding. Usually, one to prance about to terrible music, and one to pull the embarrassed-looking groom’s chariot.
David (venturing gingerly): Baaju waale shaadi ke mandap mein check kiya, aapne? Kal wahin se baraat nikli thi. Aapka ghoda wahaan gaya hoga.
Man (now sad): Aapko samajh mein nahi aa rahi hai meri baat. Mera ghoda shaadi ke mandap mein kyon jaayega? Ab main kaam kaise karoonga!? Aapne ghar ke andar to nahin rakha hai? Makaan maalik ko bahut gussa ayega.
David: Mere ghar main to ghoda nahin hai. Aap check kar sakte hain. Hota to main aapko de deta.
Now, I felt sorry for this guy. No, really. I have no clue about where his horse was, but he had gone from aggravated to grief-stricken in under two minutes. And it felt like I had something to do with it.
David: Ab aap kya karoge? Ghoda to shaayad bhaag gaya. Aapko ghode ko verandah main nahin chodna chahiye tha. Gate yahaan ki khuli rahti hai. Aapke ghode ko kisi ne chura liya hoga.
Man (distraught, now): Ghoda bhaag gaya? Bhaag gaya!? Chalo, chodo. Naya khareed lenge. Bhaade par milti hai, par main to naya loonga. Chaar sau rupiye ka kharcha!
I almost cheered. I was genuinely happy for him – he’d gotten over his old horse that quickly. And that I could go back to my dishes really soon… and that is when I checked myself. What?! Four hundred bucks for a horse? That’s cheap! Must be one weakling of a horse. I began to caution him…
David: Aap aise ghode ke saath kya karoge? Char sau waali se to behtar hai thodi si mahangi waali le lo. Acchi dikhne waali, tandurust, aur kaam ke layak.
Man (bewildered): Painting karte wakhth, mujhe ghoda kaisa dikhta hai, usse kya lena dena?
David (twice as bewildered): Painting?
Man : Haan! Painting ke liye to hum isthamaal karte hain. Aapke ghar ke deewar ko bhi ghodey par chadh kar paint kiya tha!
Yikes! This was getting murky! I felt a shiver go down my spine. I could no longer deal with this man’s lost horse because he believed that he painted my newly-rented house on horseback. Yet…
David: Aapki ghodi kitni badi thi?
Man: Baarah feet.
David: Yikes! Baarah feet ka ghoda? Andar kaise le gaye?
Man (giving me a you’re-a-moron look): Darwaaze se.
David (shocked): Kaise le gaye?
Man (losing patience): Kandhey par uthakar le gaye andar!
Now this had to be a good-tempered, accommodating horse that allowed these folks to pick it up and use it to paint – horseback….
Whaaaa? No! Wait! This wasn’t a real horse he was referring to.
Translating from Hindi to English, a ‘ghoda’ is a horse. However, in NOIDA, a ghoda is something you climb and support yourself on – a ladder.
The man was looking for his ladder. How was I to know?!?