five jokes about Delhi we don’t understand

We felt qualified to join the Facebook group “You know you are from Delhi when…” because we smiled at most of the jokes: power cuts, traffic fights, porn in Palika Bazaar, jugaad, late night Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, gol gappas, driving on the wrong side of the road, and bhaiya. Heck, we never made it to the Lotus Temple, either.And more than a few times our auto drivers pulled into the endless queue for the CNG station with us protesting weakly from the back seat.

But a few of the observations on their list that left us scratching our heads. Can anyone help us out?

You know you’re from Delhi when… (?)

3. Living in the most posh colonies, you get to hear, “Aloo, Bhindi Pyaaz, Tamatar le loo”… And you hear women asking the vegetable vendor “Bhaiyaa aapne free dhaniya nehi diya!”

30. If in school, Your conti got busted by cops, teachers or a combination of both.

40. You use the word and have described practically every other person on the planet as “Vella”.

68. One of your favorite yummiest ice-creams was “ORANGE – BAR”

70. When you feel lucky enough to have around 10 LOCAL FM STATIONS! Woho.!

Someone please explain!

(Also, here’s twenty bonus jokes from neoIndian’s 20 signs that you’ve successfully made the transition to living in India; we get every single one of them! What’s with the English subtitles on HBO anyway!?)


34 responses to “five jokes about Delhi we don’t understand

  1. Hey, I recently started reading your blog.
    I like it 🙂

    I can help you with a couple of them –

    3) “Aloo, Bhindi Pyaaz, Tamatar le loo”
    Vegetable vendors on push carts go door to door yelling, asking you to buy stuff. And even in upscale areas women ask for free stuff.
    Aloo, bhindi, pyaaz, tamatar are vegetables.
    and the woman asked for free ‘dhaniya’ which is coriander leaf (if i’m not wrong). Basically saying rich ppl should not be cheap. (I disagree)

    30) ‘Conti’ parties are farewell continuation parties for school children. Ok, not exactly children, but 17-18 yr olds. School does not allow you to do a lot of stuff, so kids organize their own parties after the official school party.

    40) ‘Vella’ is a tamil word for useless/good for nothing

    68 and 70.. I’m not too sure if I got the joke.

    Hope that helps, and keep updating 🙂

  2. Thats kinda hillarious but expected. Quite commendable that you got the other ones, owing to your experiences in India, which is by no means anything less than an Achievment !
    I shall explain the rest for you –

    3. It means even in the posh colonies, you have vegetable sellers shouting – Aaloo (potato) le lo etc.. which is only common in not so posh colonies. And the aunties (as we so fondly call our elderly overweight women) ask for a free dab of coriander. 😛

    30. Conti is an after party after your high school farewell, which is generally given by the class junior to you. Its a prejudice to attend the conti for geeks and only the ‘hip’ crowd goes for it. Obviously drinks and pot both prevail.

    40. ‘Vella’ is a word from Punjabi lanuage. Its an adjective for someone who is ‘not doing any work’, or is ‘useless’. So, its a gud putdown.

    68. Orange bar is one of the most fav dessert of kids. For one, its cheap, only INR 5 from a roadside cart or even less. And its just pure ice with an orange flavor. Since its not common for parents to give pocket money to small kids in India, practically, every one grew up having this thing by whatever means they could.

    70. FM stations are a recent phenomenon in Delhi or India basically. Before what we have now, was AIR – All India Radio, the state run radio station. They had RJs and shows that were nothing but crap. So, when the airspace was opened for private channels, Delhi-wallahs were so happy that they could now play even the FM channels loudly and show off their bass tubes in car stereo systems.

    And for the HBO showing subtitles, its called ‘catering to the consumer demands’.

  3. Haha, I was wondering about exactly the same points (although – I did make it to Lotus Temple – nothing special).

    Awaiting explanations!

  4. What does this one mean?

    14. A meter working in a Auto – Miracle! And hear statements like..
    # Gas nahi hai
    # Gaadi waapis dene ka time ho gaya
    # Wahan se waapis ki sawaari nahi milti
    # Wahan jaam (traffic jam) mein kaun fasega

    • Here in Delhi, Auto people give unusual and absolutely ridiculous reasons not to ferry passengers. Four of these reasons are :

      1. No gas in the vehicle as autos work on CNG (Compressed natural gas) and getting it refilled takes time.

      2. Generally, auto drivers have taken the autos on rent and pay a certain amount to its respective owners. So these drivers have to go park these autos in the respective areas for the night hence that excuse. Also, they won’t go out of their way either.

      3. Their reasoning for this thing is that they won’t get any passenger to ferry from your desired destination. And their travel to such a location would prove futile.

      4. If the traffic situation is bad near your desired destination then they wouldn’t want to go to that area as it would mean more fuel usage. And time wastage. But dumb reason nonetheless.

      Am a Delhite, have faced all of these four excuses. Any further need explanation, I am your man.

      Tanuj (Expert in Delhi know-how :p)

  5. @biznatch – Generally autorickshaw (a form of public transport) drivers don’t go for the metered fares and overcharge or they will refuse to go if the destination doesn’t suit them and these are some of the excuses:
    – not enough gas (refers to CNG)
    – time to return the vehicle to the owner
    – i don’t get passengers in that location (so they expect you to pay return fare)
    – too much of traffic in that area

  6. 23. Your Dad’s really good friends with at least one Public Figure.

    51. You dont buy tickets for a music concert or cricket match, but try to take the help of your friend’s Dad, who happens to be the PA to the under secretary of the deputy secretary of the chief secretary of the Minister of State for Khadi.

    There were a few like that. Do you really have to know a politician to get anywhere in Delhi? If I say that I know Sheial Dixit, will I get free drinks at a fancy bar? LOL

  7. the women there wear dupatta on gown when leaving the child to school bus.

  8. Thanks to Nakul’s comment I got the meaning of conti parties. It is the first time I heard this thing.
    Dave & Jenny, not bad that you didn’t get only 5 from the 70 or 70+ list. Good job!

  9. @Tanuj, @Parambir Don’t we know it! We took this picture on one of the many times an auto driver included a stop at the CNG station as an unrequested Point C on our late-night journeys home.

    • I’ve seen the one near New Friends Colony which stretches for far too long. Even the Mathura Road one has the same thing. Its all bumper to bumper and very short gap between two autos.

      Remember the time when CNG was introduced? Was that a mess!

  10. Don’t tell me you didn’t try the Orange Bar when you were here! Did you try the Cola Bar?

  11. @HBO – it is because of the accent.

    Even Indians who can read and write very good English can have trouble with strong western accents.

  12. What does a weak western accent sound like? 😉

    I could tell it was because of the accents, I’m sure the waiters at my local indian restaurant wish that we came with subtitles too! We know them well enough that they know our order and dote on our baby, but when we try to make conversation they smile & run away (& dont bring us the extra rice we asked for, etc) 😉

  13. I think its “contri” – shortened from contribution 🙂

    • Technically Kiran, you’re right it should be contri. But for some unknown reason its pronounced as “conti” (which could also be thought of as continuation party, continuation of school parties and culture/tradition. But this just a guess.)

  14. An orange bar is an icicle. For most children in Delhi, it was the only form of ‘ice cream’ they knew for a long time. I would call this a more ‘if-you-grew-up-in-the-90’s’ phenomenon than the one it’s being talked about in.

    Other metros in India have a maximum of 6-7 stations. Delhi has 9-10 now. So people from delhi think other cities have been left behind, since they have more forms of real estate advertisements to listen to.

    The third, vella, comes from the fact that every delhiwallah likes to call the other person, vella, means a person who has nothing to do. This can be taken as the person saying that thinks that they are the only person who have some worthwhile work in life.

  15. English subtitles on English programming help one to follow even with all the background noise that’s endemic to Indian existence. Further, it helps the uninitiated with the accent as well (saves you the trouble of explaining every last word to your never-left-delhi cousin).

  16. Hello,

    First of all, congratulations for an awesome blog and for your upcoming novel. I can help with four of these:

    3. Reference to Sabzi wallahs (vegetable vendors) who used to roam into colonies shouting out the names of their vegetables (literal translation– take potatos, onions, lady finger, …) Also Free Dhaniya (Coriander).. coriander is dirt cheap, and is used a sdressing for most curries. Therefore no price is charged and its given as a giveaway with any purchase. And trust the indian housewives not to be cheated out of their Free Dhaniya entitlement. So the literal translation of the other sentence: “You didnt give me my free coriander!!”

    40. “Vella” = Jobless. It is the pride and custom of every jobless loser in Delhi to call other people Vella, as the saying goes 😉

    68. Cheapest Ice-cream (no cream, actually!) Used to be popular because of its price some time ago among children.

    70. Most Indian Cities have around 2 or max 3 radio stations. (THey’re called FM because almost all stations worth listening to come on the Frequency Modulated channels) Delhi and Bombay are the grand exceptions. So basically it means you dont need a cassete/CD/mp3 player in your car as some station or the other would be playing nice songs. It is a great boon, actually.

    Cant say about no. 30 as I wasnt schooled here.

  17. A note on the free dhania: they also give free mirchi (peppers). I ask for both, but I am not an auntie (to most, at least). Demand your rights! ;-p

  18. I once successfully haggled with my sabzi wallah to give me two free onions instead of my dhania/green chilli entitlement.

  19. To state that only Delhi and Mumbai have more than 10 FM stations is a reflection of the gross prejudice against other cities… please see this

  20. I’ve been living in delhi since last 6-7years n i just don’t understand how people enjoy ice creams in chilly winter.

  21. .I’ve been living in delhi since last 6-7years n i just don’t understand how people enjoy ice creams in chilly winter.

  22. @Kenon, as the Hindi saying goes “loha hi lohe ko kaatta hain” ice creams are best enjoyed in the winters. What good is the winter season if you don’t relish it with something to beat it! :p

  23. Maybe there is something too. I read it yesterday about how good is ice creams in winter. I think i got it. N one more thing. Do u guys know anything about the drainage guys? They charged Rs.200 in two mins. Is that normal?

  24. well i can explain the HBO subtitle thing very well…yah as correctly pointed out by others its about accent….many of my friends and why should i leave myself 2….(me included)…..could never make a single thing about wht used to go on between two characters in a hollywood flick…when i started watching hollywood films I wasnot accoustomed to the accent(Aamerican way of speaking english)….so we would sit through the movies feeling like we understood everything but the fact of the matter is couldnot follow anything except the love making and action scenes(which definately doesn’t need anyone talking)…..
    but somehow my ears and brain got accoustomed to the accent and now i am somehow comfortable…..coming back to the question….My friends who face the same problem would hesitate in watching a Hollywood movie simply ‘coz they don’t want to sit through the whole movie and feel a total stupid afterwards….and if u generalize this to whole of India and u will get a huge population who can read and write in english but still can’t get an american or british accent…..but everyone likes a hollywood movie… initially the HBO was not at all popular … they might had done some sort of survey and some genius like me might have come with this idea …that to well in India u need to have english subtitles for an english movie meant for ppl who understand english so that they can read subtitles and enjoy what is being said rather than just nodding and smiling if some actions sems funny….

  25. I just stumbled your blog .. AND its hilarious to say the least… But did you forget to mention this one —

    You know you’re from Delhi when… (?)

    1) You start describing your clothes, shoes with brands… like “ajee yeh belt toh gucci ka hai … only 2800 rupees !!” 😀

    2) You use words like “dont mind ji” in conversations…

    3) You find names like pammi, rinky, pinky, tinky, dinky, etc etc in your relationship circle

  26. 3. Living in the most posh colonies, you get to hear, “Aloo, Bhindi Pyaaz, Tamatar le loo”… And you hear women asking the vegetable vendor “Bhaiyaa aapne free dhaniya nehi diya!”

    Fact:- People stay in so cold post colonies and yelling at poor vegetable vendor for free stuff… 😀

    P.S. I know this is very much true..

    30. If in school, Your conti got busted by cops, teachers or a combination of both.

    Ans:- Lolz… you remind me mine… 😉

    See, fact about this is… In India every 11th Grade student gives farewell party to 12th Grade students…. Ofcourse in schools these parties are done in very formal ways…

    So students themselves do CONTI i.e. contribution with 11th and 12th Grade… and they go and party in Disc… {we did same 😉 } but our schools don’t allow us such parties AS we have our board exams after 2 months of farewell party… So our teachers come to our conti parties and scold us call our parents or threat us not to give our examination roll number… 😀

    40. You use the word and have described practically every other person on the planet as “Vella”.

    What i am right now is “Vella”… Person who got nothing to do or just keep bugging around is know as Vella…

    68. One of your favorite yummiest ice-creams was “ORANGE – BAR”

    Orange bar is an ice cream which is cheap and its still available…
    I am not sure about this… sorry…

    70. When you feel lucky enough to have around 10 LOCAL FM STATIONS! Woho.!

    I feel lucky to have 10 Radio stations as you know delhi traffic… and many people can’t afford ipod…. moreover you can make dedications, play games and get updates… so its useful indeed…

  27. 3. The fact is, tamatar, aloo and onions are the main course in a restaurant and coriander leaves are like the small mouth freshner the restaurant gives you as a compliment. I think now you get the point. However, you dont demand for a mouth freshner in a restaurant if they dont give you..but..its always no harm to ask if they have some if you need some. This is the same thing..!!

  28. rohneet.ahluwalia

    Joke no. 3- it has become a standard dat when u buy vegetables from d local vendor or veg market, the guy always provides a bunch of dhaniya free of cost! Its so taken for granted that when not provided, housewives feel dat their shopping is incomplete.

    Joke no. 30- if u or ur kids have ever studied in private schools in delhi specially modern school barakhamba, havin the cops “try” to bust it is common taking into consideration that bizarre elements such as elephants, eunuchs, dholkis are a common aspect of such conti’s

    Joke no.40- vella is a term used for all individuals who hv a lot of free time on their hands to do the most boring or eccentric things!

    Joke no. 68- orange bar is the most wanted and fastest selling nd cheap ice cream available for school kids with miniscule pocket money. Having this for uears does make it a fav for many

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