November 16, 2014 12:48:26 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s four-city Australian tour has begun and will reach its climax at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, preparing the pitch for the Indian cricket team that follows in his wake. His advisors have been briefing him extensively on Indo-Australian relations, including the possible hiccups, mainly a question of things getting lost in translation, as those who remember Monkeygate and Harbhajan Singh will know. Australians have their own peculiar language and slang words for everyday use, and it may have been confusing for Modi when he met his counterpart Tony Abbot. Here’s how it could have gone.
Abbot: G’day mate, how was Brizzie?
Modi: Well, actually it’s evening and I have not met anyone called Brizzie…
Abbot: Strewth, in our lingo, ‘g’day’ is just hello and Brizzie is what we call Brisbane. Also, I know how confusing it is meeting all these pollys.
Modi: I never met Polly either?
Abbot: It’s slang for politicians; we love shortening every word so it sounds more Aussie. Anyway I’m stoked to have finally met you, quite rapt.
Modi: Rap music? I really prefer…
Abbot: No, stoked means pleased and rapt is delighted. Anyway it’s an ace visit and I wish you had an extra day, we would have had you over and fired up the barbie…
Modi: Why would you want to burn dolls?
Abbot: Sorry mate, barbie is the barbecue, we Aussies have an obsession with the backyard. But I forgot you are a vejjo.
Modi: No I’m a Hindu, and…
Abbot: It means vegetarian. I know that people get confused with our language, just as we get confused with yours. Like Harbhajan Singh. Simmo clearly heard him say ‘monkey’.
Modi: Was this Simmo the umpire?
Abbot: Symonds — Andrew Symonds — the bloke who made the complaint.
Modi: In Sachin’s autobiography, that’s Sachin Tendulkar by the way, he says Bhaji, that’s Harbhajan, used the phrase “Ma di”, which in our language is paying respect to Symond’s mother.
Abbot: If that bloke Sachin said it, it’s fair dinkum… before you ask, it means the honest truth. Now to get down to business. On immigration, I suggest we upgrade from brickies, sparklers, chippies and cabbies to IT professionals, doctors, and…
Modi: Are you serious? Sorry I heard someone say that on TV, but I’m not quite getting the hang of this. After landing in Australia, I am learning new aspects of phonetics.
Abbot: It’s quite simple really, as you said, phonetics — brickie is bricklayer, chippie is carpenter, sparkler is an electrician and cabbie is a taxi driver.
Modi: This is a learning experience. It’s like going back to school. Not that I mind, I love children, more than that chap Nehru….
Abbot: Ankle biters.
Modi: Why ankles?
Abbot: Ankle biters is Aussie slang for children.
Modi: Very expressive. I had said ‘Act East’ instead of ‘Look East’, but maybe I need to change that to ‘Talk East’.
Abbot: No worries mate, she’ll be right.
Modi: I beg your pardon, who she be? I mean who’s she?
Abbot: Sorry, that’s how we say ‘it’ll be all right’, but back to business. We want to attract more Indians to our unis, we believe there’s a lot of scope…
Modi: Is that a space programme?
Abbot: Not on your nelly! I’m talking about universities.
Modi: Of course, you are. Now I know why they call it down under, you are never on top. I should have listened to David Cameron.
Abbot: That Pom? What did he say?
Modi: He gave me the best lesson on a diplomatic visit to Australia. Don’t chinwag to much. Take it in writing.
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