So there I was, a desi-firang, bag and baggage in the land of all yuppy-puppy desi firangs - UK. It took a couple of months for the realisation to dawn that I was an Indian English desi-firang. (Confused, dont be! I shall explain the premise)
The way I speak English is typically the way most hoity-toity Indians speak it. Grammatically flawless, but peppered with Indianisms for want of another word. While in Bangalore and Chennai, I liberally sprinkled my sentences with da and machcha ( What you doing on Saturday, da?) in Hyderabad it became ra ( Will you be at the press conference? No ra, too much work already) Replace the 'a' with the 'e' when you are in Mumbai ( What re, not going to work today kya? or I tho just wanted to die when she came wearing that same top, re!)
While in school, Amma used to mimic the way we girls used to talk to each other ( What ya, you can't even say these things to your mother ya) Basically a ya was required to add the stamp of English. Even better - how many times have we created new words because we can't find the right English word to convey the meaning? Haven't you ever maroed (cracked) a couple of smart lines in front of a girl or stood chummified( that's Malayalam-English for embarrassed) when your tall claims came crashing down. If you are in the north, there is no way you would have escaped wedding-shedding jokes or the Punju-vanju types.
These usages seem perfectly sound till you export it to England. And then begins the fun.
While talking with English friends, the Indianisms liberally sprinkled in your 'flawless English' cause puzzled expressions. Just as you are wondering whether you have grown two horns comes the realisation : my phrases are too Indianised to sound intelligible to the truly firangs. (Try telling someone you just want to do some general stuff or that It's all for timepass)
They don't get my word play nor do I understand them when they talk of 'being knackered' or 'having the mickey blown out'. Do you?
The funniest moments are in the way we describe food. We call food without spices 'bland', while here that without any flavour is called bland. So when I refer to hummus as bland food, out come the shocked expressions. The Brits are masters at bland food, they can't stand some puny Indian calling food bursting with flavours as bland, you see!!
There is also our innate flair for description. As adjectives and adverbs decorate every noun, the resulting sentences are so flowery that it leaves them confused. Sample this. " I belong to the great land(adj) called India that is a wonderful( more adj) example of unity in diversity( cliche!!!). We are extremely, funloving and friendly( Moreeeee adj) group of people who believe in spreading the lofty ideals of peace and harmony wherever we go." Very mildly improvised form of flowery description that I heard at one of those Freshers' Ball at the University.
I have come to realise that there is a huge disconnect between people speaking the same language. Primarily between Indians speaking English believing they speak the Universally understood form and the others who often get lost somewhere between the accent and the usages.
Just the other day( so typical of Indians to begin with a clause), I was telling someone that my English has gone to the dogs( few relate to this phrase here) after arriving in England...( Did you realise how colloquial this is?) Few Indians would think of it as a very convoluted sentence. What we want to convey is the sheer irony of it. English worsening in England? Well, it is true. It can happen.
Now you understand why I say, Ayyo, how to speak this crazy language?