कीजिए [kījie] VS करिए [karie]

Hindi verb – करना /karnā/ (to do ) has often puzzled the learners/ teachers of Hindi  since it falls into the category of those dreaded verbs known as ‘Irregular Verbs’.  Learners instinctively follow the ‘regular rules’ to conjugate this verb, and later found them to be incorrect according to textbooks and their educators. Even established Hindi newspapers like Jansatta (जनसत्ता) are puzzled as they tend to use alternative forms in the same text. See example below from Jansatta (dated 10th June 2017).

Hindi Newspaper_Jansatta 10 June 

And not to forget the famous song from Hindi sports history film Chak De India (2007) ‘s title track –

Even children’s literature like Bankelal series (of Raj Comics) is not sure which form to use – करिए or कीजिए


It is time to accept this so called anomaly in prescriptive grammars of the language/s that Hindi-Urdu Irregular verb करना (karnā), has 2 forms of polite imperatives कीजिए (kījie) [also spelled as कीजिये (kījiye)] and करिए (karie) [also spelled as करिये (kariye)], together with 2 forms of perfective participles – किया (kiyā) and करा (karā).

I was under the impression that later forms have to do with #Punjabification of Hindi in Delhi after partition, but I stand corrected. Duncan Forbes has written about these alternate forms way back in 1844, where he mentions the currency of these 2 alternative forms. It is still not clear how these two forms were used and in which area.

A Grammar of the Hindustani Tongue _Duncan Forbes_Cover Page

A Grammar of the Hindustani Tongue _Duncan Forbes

पिता के जाने के बाद

Beautiful Jharkhand by W. Raja

(कल मेरे पिताजी को गुज़रे ठीक 4 महीने बीत जाएँगे। आज विश्व पिता दिवस है। अपने पिता को याद करते हुए मुझे निदा फ़ाज़ली साहब (1938 – 2016) की यह रचना याद आई। इन अशआरों को लिखते हुए निदा फ़ाज़ली साहब ने जो जज़्बात महसूस किए होंगे, उनका अहसास अब मुझे भी है। )

तुम्हारी क़ब्र पर
मैं फ़ातिहा पढ़ने नहीं आया

मुझे मालूम था
तुम मर नहीं सकते
तुम्हारी मौत की सच्ची ख़बर जिसने उड़ाई थी
वो झूठा था
वो तुम कब थे
कोई सूखा हुआ पत्ता हवा से हिल के टूटा था
मेरी आँखें 
तुम्हारे मंज़रों में क़ैद हैं अब तक
मैं जो भी देखता हूँ
सोचता हूँ
वो – वही है
जो तुम्हारी नेकनामी और बदनामी की दुनिया थी
कहीं कुछ भी नहीं बदला
तुम्हारे हाथ
मेरी उँगलियों में साँस लेते हैं
मैं लिखने के लिए
जब भी कलम काग़ज़ उठाता हूँ
तुम्हें बैठा हुआ अपनी ही कुर्सी में पाता हूँ
बदन में मेरे जितना भी लहू है 
वो तुम्हारी 
लग़्ज़िशों नाकामियों के साथ बहता है
मेरी आवाज़ में छुप कर
तुम्हारा ज़ेहन रहता है
मेरी बीमारियों में तुम
मेरी लाचारियों में तुम
तुम्हारी क़ब्र पर जिसने तुम्हारा नाम लिखा है
वो झूठा है
तुम्हारी क़ब्र में मैं दफ़्न हूँ
तुम मुझ में ज़िन्दा हो
कभी फ़ुर्सत मिले तो फ़ातिहा पढ़ने चले आना।

The Story of ‘Chota Hazri’

tea cup victorian

Early morning tea (bed tea) is habit for many of us in India and elsewhere, but do you know that it has its origin in British colonial times. 

In Agatha Christie‘s short story ‘The case of the Perfect Maid’ (1979),  there is an Indian judge living in English countryside of St. Mary Mead. In the story the Indian judge is known to  ask for his Chota Hazri at 6 in the morning. In colonial times, Chota Hazri was the described as the early breakfast of the British officers working in India. 

Merriam Webster‘s dictionary defines this term Chota Hazri as ‘a light meal eaten very early in the morning’.  In Hindi-Urdu Chota (छोटा) means ‘small (adjective)’ and Hazri  is from Hindi-Urdu Hazri = Haziri (हाज़िरी) meaning ‘presence/attendance’. Since Haziri is a feminine noun in Hindi-Urdu, proper phrase would be ‘Choti Haziri‘. It can be presumed that this phrase could have originated among the Indian servants of British colonial officers, who had to give an early morning call to their masters. 

John Beames in his ‘Memoirs Of A Bengal Civilian’ (1960) notes that an early morning meal was served between 5.30 to 6.00 in the morning , and consisted of tea, eggs (boiled or poached), toast & fruit. According to Hobson-Jobson Dictionary, Chota Hazri was largely practiced in Bengal Presidency of British India. It also informs us that the Dutch Colonials in Java (now Indonesia) also practiced this custom of early breakfast with a large cup of tea served with a large piece of Cheese.

The entry on Chota Hazri from Hobson Jobson is given below:

Chota Hazri- Hobson Jobson

Chota Hazri has also been mentioned in literature written in Hindi and Urdu. Influential Urdu writer Qurratulain Hyder (1927 – 2007) in her short novel ‘Ek ladki ki Zindagi’ (एक लड़की की ज़िन्दगी, 1996)  mentions Chota Hazri in a circuit house of Sakkur (Sindh, Pakistan).

ek ladki ki zindagi

Famous Hindi novelist Shivani (1923 – 2003) in her memoir ‘Jaalak’ (जालक, 2007), mentions Chota Hazri while describing about early morning breakfast of a British couple Mr. & Mrs. Henry.


An Indian civil servant of British India, Santdas Khushiram Kriplani, has written about his life with the British bureaucracy in India in his autobiography ‘ Fifty Years with the British’ (1993). He gives description of his daily routine, starting with Chota Hazri.

Fifty years with the British

To sum it up, bed tea  as the Indians call the chota Hazri now, has a long history to talk about.

References :

Beames, John. Memoirs of a Bengal Civilian. London: Eland, 1984.

Brown, Patricia. Anglo-Indian Food and Customs: Tenth Anniversary Edition. Bloomington, IN: IUniverse, 2008.

Kirpalani, Santdas K. Fifty Years with the British. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1993. Print.

Leong-Salobir, Cecilia. Food Culture in Colonial Asia: A Taste of Empire. Place of Publication Not Identified: Routledge, 2014. 

Yule, Henry, and A. C. Burnell. Hobson-jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases. Richmond: Curzon, 1999




The Birth of vowel ॉ / ऑ in Hindi

hindi vowels

Spoken Hindi has 10 indigenous vowels (together with their 10 nasalized counterparts). The indigenous vowels are अ [ə], आ [a], इ [I], ई [i:], उ [ʊ], ऊ [u:], ए [e:], ऐ [ɛː], ओ[o]  & औ [ɔː]. Apart from these, Hindi also has three  vowels which are borrowed  from other languages like Sanskrit or English. They are following – 

  1. ऋ  / ṛ / – a retroflex vowel borrowed from Sanskrit but pronounced commonly  as /ri/ 
  2. /æː/  in English loanwords, such as /bæːʈ/ (‘bat’) – no separate orthographic sign in Hindi but expressed via ऐ (ai)
  3. ॉ / ऑ  /ɒ / in English loanwords such as college, doctor, hostel etc.
Hindi Vowel Chart _shapiro 2003

Vowel Chart of Hindi

English vowels chart 2004

Vowel Chart of English

Over the time, Hindi has borrowed a short-open-back-rounded vowel /ɒ / from English (as in English ‘hot’). This vowel is mostly pronounced by educated speakers of Hindi-Urdu familiar with English while speaking words like डॉक्टर (doctor), हॉस्टल (Hostel), कॉफ़ी (Coffee), कॉलेज (College) etc. Since Devanagari does not have a sign for this vowel, a new sign ॉ / ऑ was derived from the existing orthography. Looking at the vowel charts of English & Hindi, one can place ॉ / ऑ between long vowel /a/ and /ɔ/. Therefore ideally in Devanagari vowel chart of Hindi should be placed right before and hence in a Hindi dictionary, words like डॉक्टर should come before syllables such as डौ.

The revised Devanagari syllabary for Hindi vowels would look like this

Pronunciation guide Hindi vowels


Kedgeree – the Anglo Indian Khichdi


British Kedgeree

Most of us have heard the famous folktale involving Mughal emperor Akbar (1542 -1605) and his minister Birbal, in which Birbal tries to cook Khichdi to prove a point. But not many of us know about the journey of this popular rice-lentils dish from India to Britannia. 



Indian Khichdi / Khichri / Khichuri

Kedgeree (also known as kitchery, kitchri or kichiri,) is a British colonial version of the rice-lentils dish popularly known as Khichdi ( खिचड़ी ) in Hindi. A simple Indian Khichdi is a one-pot vegetarian dish cooked with rice, lentils (daal) & some vegetables with some condiments like salt, turmeric, cumin etc. When cooked with Moong lentils, Khichdi is also used as a recuperative food and as a first food for babies. Like most of the dishes which fall into the category of Anglo-Indian cuisine, Khichdi has also been adapted and adjusted to the British palate, thereby evolving into Kedgeree. This Kedgeree is usually made with the smoked fish gently curried and mixed well with rice and onions and eggs and parsley.

In the Victorian era Kedgeree started out as an Indian breakfast dish somewhere around 14th century. British travelers to India came to know of Kedgeree first as a healthy vegetarian dish but gradually it developed into the hybrid dish of smoked fish and eggs. Since smoked fish in various forms had traditionally been eaten as a breakfast in Britain, naturally Kedgeree was served for breakfast on Anglo-Indian tables. Later it was brought back to Britain by British colonials on their return from India. Kedgeree’s popularity in United Kingdom reached such heights that the famous  British playwright W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) is thought to have said that ‘to eat well in England, you should have a breakfast three times a day and with Kedgeree in it’. 

Colonel Henry Yule  &  Dr. Arthur Coke Burnell in their Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases (1886), give the following description of Kedgeree –

kedgeree in Hobson-Jobson

Even before the arrival of British colonials, in 1334 AD, the great North-African explorer & Arabic scholar Ibn Battuta (1304–circa 1377 AD) from Morocco visited India and commented about ‘Kishri’ in his book Tuhfat al-anzar fi gharaaib al-amsar wa ajaaib al-asfar (A gift to those who contemplate the wonders of cities and the marvels of traveling. While describing about the grains and cereals of India, he mentions a rice-lentils dish which Indian used to eat at that time.

Ibn Batuta on Khichdi


Koshary/ Kushary

Another inspiration from Khichdi is found in Egypt as Kushari / Koshary.  It is widely considered as Egypt’s national dish (even though it is a very recent introduction to the country). Koshary is made with rice, lentils (black or brown), chickpeas and pasta, which are cooked individually, then tossed together and topped with cumin-scented tomato sauce and crunchy fried onions.

From its humble beginnings in India, Khichdi has come a long  way to Britain and then to Egypt and other parts of the world.

References :-

Brown, Patricia. Anglo-Indian Food and Customs: Tenth Anniversary Edition. Bloomington, IN: IUniverse, 2008.

Yule, Henry, and A. C. Burnell. Hobson-jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases. Richmond: Curzon, 1999

Leong-Salobir, Cecilia. Food Culture in Colonial Asia: A Taste of Empire. Place of Publication Not Identified: Routledge, 2014. 

Mohammad, Ibn Batouta Abou-Abd-Allah, and Samuel Lee. The Travels of Ibn Battuta in the Near East, Asia and Africa. New York, NY: Cosimo Classics, 2009.


How Indians became ‘Tea-totaller’

A glass of tea

A glass of hot Chai sold at a tea shop in India

© Abhishek Avtans

Even though Chai Patti (tea leaves) are one of the ubiquitous things to find in Indian kitchens, research on history of these mystic leaves informs us that tea (Camellia Sinensis) originated in southern Himalayan region of north-east India & Burma, flourished in China, and was introduced into Indian subcontinent by the British who acquired this habit from the Dutch. It was the Dutch merchants who in 1610 brought the first shipment of tea to Europe from Japan, and later brought it to New Amsterdam (now New York). But it was East India company of Britain which established the first tea plantations in Assam and Darjeeling regions of India in the later half of 19th century. In this piece I am going to discuss how during the 20th century Indians, in general  turned into Tea-totaller = a person who drinks copious amounts of tea daily (a spoof on Teetotaller = a person who never drinks alcohol or opposed to the drinking of alcohol ;Cambridge English Dictionary).

I do not remember my grandmother or my great grandfather craving for tea. It is not that they did not drink tea, but it was still not a habit for them. In their mind I guess tea was still an addiction of the ruling British who enjoyed this nashaa (intoxication). In Bengali film Chokher Bali (based on a novel of the same name by Rabindranath Tagore), a Bengali Hindu widow Binodini exhorts other widows of the house to drink tea which they consider as a sinful act for widows to do. But it was a different story with my own parents who enjoyed plentiful cups of chai (spiced milk tea) all their lives. They drank it more or less ritually almost 3 or 4 times a day.  I remember there was a tea shop in Agra (Radhey tea shop, Agra) which did brisk business solely by selling Chai, biscuits, some savories and cigarettes all around the year. Tea has finally become a social beverage in contemporary India. 

Many of the ardent fans of Indian Chai wouldn’t know that Chai was not considered a healthy drink as late as the 1940s. In 1942 Mahatma Gandhi wrote a booklet named Arogya ni Chavi (Key to Health) in Gujarati (also translated in Hindustani & English). In this booklet, Gandhi ji talks about drinking habit of Tea, coffee and Cocoa and its supposed ill effects on human body. In the booklet he himself confesses his prior indulgment in drinking of tea and coffee, but encourages complete abandonment of this habit for better health. Gandhi ji goes on to add that –

The tea leaves contain tannin which is harmful to the body. Tannin is generally used in the tanneries to harden leather. When taken internally it produces a similar effect upon the mucous lining of the stomach and intestine. This impairs digestion and cause dyspepsia. It is said that in England innumerable women suffer from various aliments on account of their habit of drinking tea which contains tannin.

The original pages of what he wrote about tea, coffee and cocoa in Hindi is given below (including the cover page) –

cover page of arogya ki kunji

Chai coffee and Cocoa

From Gandhi’s booklet ‘arogya ki kunji’

Tea, coffee and cocoa

From Gandhi’s booklet ‘arogya ki kunji’

Despite Mahatma Gandhi anti-tea pronouncements on health grounds and sympathy to the plight of exploited tea garden workers ( Gandhi called tea as the blood of tea garden workers), the clout of the tea companies and the subsequent governments succeeded in  promoting tea drinking in the Indian domestic market making Indians one of the biggest producers and consumers of tea by 1980s. This was mainly fueled by aggressive marketing and promotion of tea as a drink full of qualities such as stimulant, freshness, energy, satisfying and a beneficial social beverage.

Old Newspaper Advertisements

Some of the newspaper advertisements from that era are presented below –

This Hindi print advertisement for Lipton tea published in 1942, describes tea as a ‘festive drink’ which must be offered to all on the festive occasion of Diwali as it has become a tradition to do so.

Lipton Hindi print advertisement

Lipton Hindi print advertisement

The following print advertisement in Hindi by S. Miller & Company for their tea in a newspaper published in 1942. The advertisement describes Miller tea as the world’s best tea, and the best drink of every household. 

miller tea

Miller tea Hindi print advertisement

Another one is from the 1980’s when drinking tea was portrayed as promoting vigor, strength, and bravery.  It is a printed advertisement for Lipton tiger tea, where an Indian tea drinker with a handlebar mustache is confronting a wild tiger with a tea cup in his hand. 

lipton hindi tiger

Lipton tiger tea Hindi print advertisement


Looking back a little further one would wonder, what Indians might be drinking before the advent of tea as a social drink. One would believe that butter milk (Chaach), yogurt drink (Lassi) in summers, and warm milk in winters must be the choice of beverage which ruled the roost in older times. It is important here to mention that long before the introduction of Chai in India, Paan (betel leaf with areca nut), Surti / Khaini (dry leaf tobacco), and Bidi (rolled smoking tobacco) were the consumables over which social intercourse took place for many centuries. Then came the big leveler – Tea.

References –

Bhadra, Gautam. From An Imperial Product To A National Drink. 1st ed. Calcutta: [Centre for studies in social sciences [etc.], 2005.

Hohenegger, Beatrice. Liquid jade: the story of tea from east to west. New York, NY: St. Martins Press, 2006. 

Lutgendorf, Philip. “Making tea in India.” Thesis Eleven 113.1 (2012): 11-31. 

Arts, Old Indian. “Old Indian Arts.” Old Indian Arts. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 June 2017.

Gandhi, M. Arogya ki kunji, Gandhi Heritage Portral of Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, Ahmedabad, 2017

Train Thieves of the World – In Delhi – In Paris – In Brussels

#Train Thieves of the World

Delhi (India)

taj express

It was a breezy morning of October 2006, I was at the Hazarat Nizamuddin train station of Delhi (India) to get Taj Express train to Agra. Taj Express departs sharp at 7 o’clock daily. One of my colleagues at the government institute in Agra (KHS) was accompanying me for this trip. The train arrived 10 minutes earlier than departure time, and we found our way to the 2nd class reserved compartments. We kept our bags on luggage racks above our seats and sat comfortably while sipping cups of Chai we had bought from the tea vendor. My colleague was reading his newspaper, and I was looking out of the windows. Suddenly I felt as if some warm fluid fell on my shirt, I looked around and found that a man has spilled his tea on my shirtsleeve . He was profusely apologizing, and I quickly got up to wipe off the spilled tea. Meanwhile that oddly looking man was trying to help me with his handkerchief. The train had started to move slowly. In a slight of a second, another man from the opposite direction appeared and grabbed my laptop bag kept on the racks. Until I could realize what was happening, the thief had dashed towards the doors and jumped out of the moving train. The bag contained an expensive HP laptop, some books, some money and a flash drive. I quickly realized I had been duped, and ran towards the bag snatcher. In an effort to catch him I too jumped from the moving train (I realize now that it was a very bad idea). I ran after him on the platform, but he was too quick and jumped on tracks to go to the platform on the other side. As I saw him vanish in crowd on the opposite platform, a train slowly arrived on the tracks in front of me. In the meanwhile Taj Express was no where to be seen. The laptop I had lost did not belong to me, it was loaned to me by the language documentation project in which I worked at the university. At last I had to buy a new laptop (worth 700 €) with much difficulty in order to replace the stolen one, but that is another story.

Paris (France)


It was in the month of September 2016, when I had to go to Paris to attend an International linguistics conference at INALCO. I had started very early in the morning from Rotterdam (Holland), and had just arrived around 10 o’clock at Gare Du Noord station of Paris. Paris Gare Du Nord is a very large and crowded train station with an attached Metro & RER station. I had to change to RER Subway train B, in order to reach my destination. I started walking towards RER station following the signage. There are couple of escalators one has to climb for reaching RER lines. On one of the narrow escalators , as I was climbing up, the escalator suddenly jolted to stop. I began walking up on the escalator. There were 2 teen aged boys behind me and one man in front. The man ahead of me was walking very slowly causing me to walk with slow pace. Suddenly I felt someone’s hand in my back pocket, I quickly turned around and saw someone’s hand behind me. Before I could realize, the two boys ran towards the bottom of the escalators and quickly vanished in narrow alleys of Gare Du Noord staion. I was lucky that there were only 10 € in my wallet along with few coins, and some business cards. I realized that I was duped by this gang of 3  (one in front and 2 in the back). They pressed the emergency stop button at the bottom of the escalator, causing it to stop. The boy in the front slowed my pace, and the two behind me escaped with my wallet.

Brussels (Belgium)

brussels nord

The capital city of Belgium, Brussels has 3 main stations – Brussel Noord, Brussel Centrale & Brussel Midi. This story does not involve me but a few of my Indian colleagues at the university. It was in May 2107 they were returning from a conference by an intercity train from Namur (Belgium) to Holland. It was an afternoon train from Namur to Brussels Centrale, the two were sitting in the middle of the carriage. They had put their bags on the luggage racks above their seats. When the train was about to reach Brussles Nord (which is a station before Brussels Centrale), a man wearing a baseball cap came walking from the opposite direction towards their seats. He awkwardly dropped his old mobile phone and some papers in the passage between the seats. The phone broke down into pieces and all its parts were lying on the train floor. As a courtesy my colleagues together with other passengers tried helping that man in collecting his scattered papers and phone components. In the meanwhile the train stopped at the Brussel Noord station. A moment later my colleagues realized that one of their bags was missing from the luggage racks. The bag contained an Apple Macbook, clothes, shoes, passport, documents, and some other valuables. The man with the broken phone had disappeared from the scene. It seems they were a gang of two who staged the stealing of this bag. One of them distracted them by throwing his phone and papers on the floors, while his accomplice easily took away the bag out of their sight.

—————-xxx————to be continued—————–xxx