We just published a video about a few ways to reduce stress on the roads, but like anywhere else, cursing in our own unique ways will remain a big part of motoring in India. It's the least to expect, given the daily doses of insanely unpredictable and frustrating situations in our daily tangles in traffic.
Thus, we thought it might be enlightening to see how people vent their frustration around the country so you will er, be prepared for the road there in case you visit. However, we're not promoting their usage; in fact it might be dangerous to say these things unwittingly, so you'd best hold these under your breath. But if someone on the road hurls an insult at you, and you actually recognise it, do remember that we were the first to educate you with such useful information.
1. Hindi: Abhe sale, andha hai kya?
Almost everyone on the road in Delhi, from a cabbie to a pedestrian, would have frequently used or heard this curse thrown around. The literal translation is "Hey, brother-in-law, are you blind?", but is used to tell off someone that made you lose it. Or step back immediately, depending on the size of the offender.
2. Tamil: Veet la sollitu vanthutiya?
This well-known insult has a long and glorious history of perfectly encapsulating the mindset of drivers and riders who have thrown caution to the winds. What it literally means is "You've told at home and come?", which, when explained in English, means something along the lines of "You've said your final goodbyes at home and then come out?"
3. Bengali: Pagol chagol!
The crowded streets of Kolkata too, have their own niceties, like this one-'pagol chagol'. Translating into ‘mad goat' in English, this popular Bengali insult is commonly hurled around at idiots on the road, and is used by locals to alleviate stress when someone insists on cutting into their lane dangerously.
4. Kannada: Thoo! Loafer nan magane…
A college brat on an automatic scooter darting in and out of traffic with his classmate egging him on, and basically giving every other road user unnecessary tension is when this wise old Kannada saying comes in handy. "Eyy, my loafer son," is what it literally translates into, so yah, we don't think there's going to be too much love exchanged if you do address someone with this pleasantry.
5. Gujarati: Abbe saala dekhatu nathi? Aandhado chhe su?
Our Gujju friends too, have their own ways of venting their frustration about erratic drivers and riders, and the above curse is one of them. If someone uses this abuse, they're basically asking the offender where he's going and whether he's blind, so use with caution. Alternatively, make sure the windows are rolled up and the aircon's on...
6. Malayalam: Nayinte mone, mukhathu kannilleda?
Don't use this if you're not a local. But this sort of curse is heard all the time on the roads in Kerala and is accepted local slang. It means "Don't you have eyes?". You've also been said to bear relation to a dog in the process, so just make sure your eyes (and ears) are always open in Kerala...
7. Telugu: Po ra, yadava!
Location. Hyderabad. Scene. Someone ahead is holding up traffic by blocking the entire road and still has the thick skin to tell people to go around him instead of moving. You'd definitely hear this abuse flung around by pissed off road users in a similar situation. "Get lost, idiot", is what this widely used curse means.
The last straw
We know you must feel like hurling abuses at us now, so feel free to send in your own special phrases for the road our way, just so we can add your insult to our injury...