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ॐ Indi-genius ॐ Sunday, 1 February, 2009

Posted by ~uh~™ in India, Soceity & Cultures, Travel.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

India- There's Space for everyone & everything

Indigenous introduction

India is a one large land to understand during one’s lifetime. I have been enriched with unforgettable experiences, sheer joy and most importantly quick wisdom. Those experiences had great influence on me.  There are few things, uniquely special to India, irrespective of the state, language or culture and could not be found in rest of the world. I have picked the objects, instances from my personal travel experiences, the earliest possible memories and real-time observations. As this is a subject with tremendous research potential, I will only narrate only on a few.

Jugad [जुगाढ़]: the ubiquitous 3 wheeled vehicle of rural India

A typical 4 wheeled good Jugaad

A typical 4 wheeled goods Jugaad

Description: This is the published name of this vehicle. It’s a marvel in homegrown automobile engineering. It consists of scooter handle, a plastic container as petrol tank, and water pump as the diesel engine. The rear part is a wooden platform and two motorcycle wheels on two sides. The built & suspension is customized to suit rural Indian roads and fuel economy. A typical Jugad runs on a liquid fuel called “mixture”, of Mitti-ka Tel or Ghaslet (Kerosene) in the ration of 80:20.

<b>An Water pump- the Jugaad engine</b>
A Water pump- the Jugaad engine

Use: business travel, transportation of goods & people, family outing, rescue vehicle

Availablity: Any mela in rural or suburban hinterland (case study- Bharat pur-Rajasthan, Faridabad- Haryana, Bantala- West Bengal)

Price: Rs 40,000 approx for a new one, resale depending on the age & usage.

Addional info: A jugad does not comply with Bhart Stage-III norms or any recommended specifications, hence does not need any registration. Have mixture? Lets go.

Gamchha[गामछा]- the basic apparel

Gamchhas hung to dry by the Ganges in Kolkata

Gamchhas hung to dry by the Ganges in Kolkata

Gamchha seller

A Gamchha seller

Description: Translucent lightweight stitch-free multipurpose cotton apparel. Mainly used as bath accessories but mostly seen in the shoulders of hard-working men (i/c LPJadav) and hed of hard-working women. Normally the apparel comes in many colors but the most popular and classy ones are reddish.

Use: Easily customizable as headband, belt, bandana, miniskirt, pagdi, strainer, cleaning cloth, duster, rope, toe-chain, veil, bathrobe, brief, ice-bag object to book space in bus and general compartment of passanger train.

Availablity: Anywhere in India.

Price: Very cheap compared to Turkish towels. And Turkish towels can’t be customized.

Addional info: Wet gamchha is heavier & more transparent than a dry one.

Indian Signage- the pop culture

<b>Check what your child is drinking this summer !</b>

What is your child is drinking this summer ?

Description: Apparently they look like collection of useless letters, but profound philosophy, native culture and timeless tales are embedded in these texts. These are normally seen in body of trucks, toilets, shops, walls, trees and ancient monuments under ASI preservation. ” Buri Nazar wale teri muh kala” & ” Horn OK Please” are the most commonly seen texts in trucks. But there are more meaningful ” My INDIA is grate Dengar” and “Use deeper at night” available too. In Madurai you have to use the “Wesh Baisin” whereas in Jaisalmer you can buy “Child beer” for your kids. If you are a man and want to use the public loo in Fatehpur-Sikri parking lot, confidently enter the door marked “Jains” as the other door is for “Ladies”. However in Agra you have “Jents” toilets in abundance. I always wanted the real meaning of “No hand signal please” on rear of air-conditioned white Amby’s used by key Govt offcials. I also wonder what’s the net result of Rahul+Priya, Deepak+ Anjali? In Kolkata I saw a sign in a bus ‘Forla Dies’. I was keen to save Forla from dying, but refrained himself realizing it was the reservation note for ladies seats, just a space gone wrong.

Toilet Signage

Public Toilet : For Jains !

Use: To guide people who can’t read, for others its great food for thought.

Availablity: all around you, just keep your eyes open.

Price: priceless

Additional info: Never ask the meaning of words or phrases, which you don’t understand readily, keep traveling and you will learn the meaning.

Beedi (also knows as Bidi) [बिड़ि]- for smoking

Beedi & packaging

Beedi & packaging

Description: Small Tendu leaf rolls containing tobacco and tied with white or colored strings. Beedi is a product of cottage industries and normally made by womenfolk of rural India. A beedi is 5 times stronger than an average filter cigarette in terms of nicotine & tar content and takes 5 times less to smoke. There’s nothing, which can be compared with the ‘kick’ of a beedi, after a cup of tea. Large variants of beedi are available- blended, flavored, export quality, long, short etc. beedi’s are also classified by their string colors e.g. lal-dhaga, safed-dhaga,  and time it takes to smoke e.g- College beedi- can be puffed in the gap between two classes, Tennis bedi- while the opponent is preparing to serve! Among the samples I have tasted, I have found the strongest  in Rajasthan & Karnataka.

A cobbler smoking beedi

A cobbler smoking beedi

Use: To smoke, scratch interiors of ear, in item numbers

Availablity: Everywhere except discotheques and 5 star hotels.

Price: It was Re 1 a pack of 25 when I started smoking. Must be 10 times now. Anyway, I am not interested anymore (I’ve quit).

Additional info: Though Beedi is free from harmful chemicals as found in cigarettes, its equally harmful for health.

Dhaba [दाबा]- roadside eateries

Sardarjis in a Dhaba

Sardarjis in a Dhaba

Description: Originally meant for truck drivers stoppage & meal, dhabas formed in the vicinity of petrol pumps. As highways & petrol pumps are operative 24 x7, so are the dhabas. An ideal dhaba will have the hearth & kitchen in the front near entrance, with large containers arranged in series. There would be charpai for seating, eating & sleeping. A good dhaba will be neat & clean with a humourous manager, a chhotu with gamchha to serve you with helpings and loads of butter in everything. The stainless steel utensils are slightly distorted, like the plates will have concave/ convex bottoms. Chai-biskoot are the daytime snack, Rum-murgi for night, lassi goes anytime. Water always tastes sweeter in Dhabas than bottled.

Use: Refuel break for vehicle & the driver, to unwind, sleep, make friends.

Availablity: Near petrol pumps in all NHx (x= any number below 100), some simulated dhaba’s can be found in urban precinct.

Price: A full meal comes for anything between Rs 20 to Rs 200 depending on how much butter you put. Once I had aloo parathas for 35 bucks which I asked to fry in butter.

Additional info: Read the menu carefully before placing order and ask for the day’s special. Dhaba’s have a big hearth &hearts;,  a spilled glass of tea is always replaced on the house, so is a chapatti with hair inside it.


फिर   मिलेगें

Horn OK Please

I am sure there are many such objects & subjects, that are uniquely Indian by origin (like zero), by customization (Jugad) or simply by affection (Bollywood), that even a research of a lifetime won’t do justice to them. The good thing is, these are famous worldwide and branded as Indian, the bad thing is, it’s so close and so common to us; we overlook them and walk away.

Next time you are traveling in India, take a closer look around you- the paper packet, signboards, matchbox, rear of the bus, dress, food, colors, sounds, lights, language.

There are mysteries & surprises galore, unravel as much as you can in this small life.

Indian scene

The Article was posted earlier here which gathered some comments.

Note: The first pic, Child Beer, Jains toilet, Cobbler and the last pic are taken by me.



1. gauri - Wednesday, 4 February, 2009

LOL, nice! I almost died of shock when I saw ‘Jains’, lol. For a min. I thought you couldn’t use that one if you’ve had onions or potatoes 😐

I saw the first couple pics, I was hoping there’s a Horn OK Please too 😀 Can’t do witout it, eh? 🙂

Nice one…


~uh~: Even i thought that way, and was trying to scientifically analyse the need of a different toilet for Jain’s.
‘Horn OK Please’ is legend.

2. Abha - Wednesday, 25 February, 2009

i think you have covered ust about EVERYTHING here! 😀

I so do LOVE India! yes, i do! 🙂


~uh~: Hey Abha, good to see you here!

3. Roop Rai - Friday, 13 March, 2009


u know lookin at these pics brings back fond memories of images that i COULD’ve captured but never could …. cuz of lack of time or being busy with something else. thanks for doing the job for folks like me.

fab-ly put together.

~uh~: Good you could connect with this. Thanks for putting a comment, which makes a difference to me.
I just found out our blog themes are same 🙂

4. Nishchaya - Wednesday, 27 May, 2009

Hey Uh, what a brilliant post. Couldn’t have missed on this one.

The best one that I remember:
Maalik ki gaadi, driver ka paseena
chalti hai gaadi banke haseena.

~uh~: Thanks buddy, after reading few of your posts I figured that our root & fascinations are quite similar- Desi stuff, desi laugh 🙂
This one’s common too-
Phool gai gulab ki khusbu lete jaiye
Gadi hai gareeb ki paisa dete jaiye

I have now subscribed to you on google reader 🙂

5. Rofl Indian - Saturday, 4 July, 2009

This post showcases just about everything there’s is about AEIOU. A superb eye for detail, a great prose, and a remarkable sense of humour.

Fabulous post. Reading it for the nth time 🙂
~uh~: What else we have to take with us except good memories and wisdom, when we finally log out? 🙂

6. Sheuli - Friday, 10 July, 2009

great to see the quintessential you in this post!!! reminds me of old times…the south india tour where we were trying to figure out the name of a station early one morning and thought it was OURINAAL…which was painted boldly in black on a yellow board… realized the typo errors only after pronouncing out the word aloud!!! or the morning in Jaisalmer where you imitated a chai wala’s call much to the chagrin of the entire troup who were parched for tea the entire journey!!!
The spirit lives on…cheers
~uh~: Glad to see you here Sheuli 🙂

7. nursemyra - Thursday, 23 July, 2009

love the Horn Ok sign
~uh~: It’s VERY Indian 🙂

8. amanda - Sunday, 23 August, 2009

you’ve got such a great sense of humor, ~uh~ 🙂
~uh~™: I don’t get to hear that everyday, thanks and welcome to AEIOU 🙂

9. Quick Gun Murugan: Bulletspoof Machismo ! « AEIOU ¿ ® - Sunday, 30 August, 2009

[…] intelligent and entertaining on most part. Bur most importantly it’s completely Desi featuring  Jugaad ( my all time favourite vehicle), Well Known Lodge and Masala Dosa. I am actually suppressing my […]

10. Vibs... - Saturday, 8 January, 2011

Wow.. amazing attention to detail. I also observe these while travelling but blogging them along with pictures.. wonderful. Loved the fultoo Indian tadka. This happens only in India 🙂
~uh~™: Gems all around us, need to pick them up 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

11. movie review - Thursday, 21 August, 2014

movie review

ॐ Indi-genius ॐ | AEIOU ¿ ®

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