Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Curses and cows. Although you'd think I'd have the cow thing down, having grown up in India and all

Having been born in Delhi and living there till I was four, I learned to speak Hindi and English at the same time. My Hindi was fluent, partly because my mom would let me play with the street children out in the square (much to the chagrin of my ayah, or nanny).

But also because of that, I had an obscene mouth in Hindi. Really terrible.

Apparently I came running in the house one day, bellowing something in Hindi. Betty, speaking no Hindi, didn't understand, but her houseguest was clearly horrified. He translated for my mom. Who was horrified in turn.

It was something along the lines of "That motherf---er took my toy!"

Motherf---er is a term I simply do not use. One to which I have a visceral reaction. But apparently, as a four-year-old, it was just part of the daily dialogue. With the street urchins.

So my mom asked my ayah if this was true. And she gave my mother an annoyed "I told you so!" look and said, "It's because you let her play with those street children!"

To this day, I've got a terrible mouth. And it's really hard to censor.

Maude's not so concerned yet, but Dan is really trying to be vigilant about not swearing in front of the baby.

Let me just note here that while I adore the shit out of both my nephew Zach and my new pal Benjamin, I do not categorically love kids. I'm never the person in the office, when someone brings in a baby, to rush over and want to squeeze it.

I'm more likely to be all, "Huh. What's that weird rash on its face?"

I am, however, adoring little Benjo, as Maude is calling him. We like each other. We've been getting along so well that I think I'm going to hang out with him tomorrow night while his mom and dad go on their first date since he was born.

And so we are hanging out a lot and I'm constantly tripping over something and exclaiming, "Shit! Sorry!" or "Fuck! Sorry!" Because in deference to his father, I don't want to be all swear-y in front of him.

And so on this trip all my four-letter words are currently polysyllabic - being followed by "sorry!" and "oops!" As in "shitoopssorry!", "damnsorry!" and "fucksorryoops!" Oops! Sorry!

And so I try to remember. But keep, well, fucking up. Damn. Oops.

And then there's all this baby paraphernalia.

I picked up this little book and finger puppet set. It was adorable - a tiny Old MacDonald book with five animal finger puppets. You could hold the book with the puppeted hand and wiggle your animal fingers as you went through it.

"Ooh, this is so cute! Look! Old MacDonald had a farm. . . " and I start going through it, wiggling my fingers. Old MacDonald had a pig. . .

"Waaaiit a minute! What the fuckoopssorry? - is Old MacDonald doing with a giraffe? Sorry. But seriously. He did not have a giraffe!"

"That's not a giraffe. It's a cow."

"It's not a cow. Look how long his neck is."

"Giraffes are yellow. This is white and grey. Have you ever seen a grey giraffe?"

"Fine. A cow. With a big yellow tuft of hair on his cow head."

It may not be a giraffe, but I know from cows. That's no fuckingoopssorry! cow.


  1. You probably said, "Yaha maaduhr chod mere chotti bata le lena!" Oops, sorry. I wish MY 4-yr-old could speak Hindi that well. Wow, no I don't.

    Weren't you in my Hindi class at AES? Poor Mr. Om Prakash had to teach elem. thru high school Hindi in one class.

  2. Luckily, when they do finally talk, they usually are not able to say all the sounds right away. You have some time to say all sorts of things!

    This saved us with my cousin Matty, whose dad did NOT censor, and frequently would be heard exclaiming, "Shit!" ALL the time. Matty was able to produce "s" sounds, before the "sh", so his mimicing translated into, "Sit!" It was completely innocuous and just sounded like he was really frustrated with a pet. Even in mixed non-family company, everyone thought it was totally cute.

  3. cant wait to read the post on how the actual baby sitting went this evening :)

  4. Look at it this way: if you are teaching him to swear, at least you're teaching him to apologize for it afterwards.

    What will be even funnier is when you come home and continue to swear that way. Pure entertainment, that is.

  5. Lisa, you crack me up!

    Thank you for giving me something to giggle about as I sit in denial about the fact that summer vacation ends in 5 days.

    Hope you're having a blast :)

  6. haha, that was great. I always wanted to be able to cuss in another language. I think Hindi takes the cake.


Tell me about it.