Sunday, November 01, 2015

GLOSSARY for FJH stories

Bahadur – a great man; a brave man.
chaprassi - office servant; messenger (from chapras - brass buckle worn on belt). See also peon/ pattewala
chit - letter; note
civil list - Warrant or Order of Precedence, also known as the Green, Red or Blue Book
Collector - chief administrator of district, originally collector of revenue (see 'D.O.'). His office had an English department whose head clerk was called an aval karkun; and a vernacular department, whose head clerk was a chitnis. A deputy chitnis served the Collector’s other official duty, that of District Magistrate, and he had to be well up in the Police Act, and all law & order matters. The head of several talukas in a district was a pranth officer unless belonging to the IAS, in which case he was an Assistant Collector.
compound - enclosed area surrounding bungalow and servants' quarters
dacoit - robber, thus 'dacoity' - robbery
dak - post, thus dak-wallah - postman and dak-bungalow - government staging house.
dal/ dhal - lentils
D.O. - District Officer, executive head of district known as Collector, Deputy Commissioner or District Magistrate
dhoti -loose loincloth worn by caste Hindus
dhurri - rough cotton rug
goonda - bad character
GR – Government Resolution
hamal- house servant
hazur/huzoor - sir, honorific (lit. 'the presence')
heaven-born - honorific often used to denote the ICS
hill station - stations above 5,000 feet to which state and central governments transferred in the hot weather
hoshiyar – wary; careful; and by extension shrewdly watchful.
hullaballoo - uproar (from holo-bolo - to make a noise)
khansama - cook
khas-khas tatti - screen made of grass matting and hung round doors in hot weather
kutchery either used for a court or for an administrative office, particularly that of a District Collector; includes treasury.
lathi – heavy bamboo or wooden riot-control sticks.
mali - gardener
Mamlatdar - the officer in executive charge of a taluka, land records keeper of 70 to 80 villages (in the 1950s). There is a sub-treasury in every taluka.
memsahib - lady, from 'madam-sahib'; sometimes shortened to mem
mofussil - up-country; the provinces
naik/ jemadar – the head pattewala, with grander uniform including a turban; Naik for an Assistant Collector, Jemadar for a Collector. His first duty in the morning was to walk ahead of the Collector as the latter made his way from the residential part of the Bungalow to the office: “Saheb, if I don’t go ahead of you, how will anyone know who you are?”).
nilgai - largest Indian antelope; an adult male is thought to look like an ox and so is often called a blue bull
pattewala/ peon - office servant; messenger, (from patta, the sash over the shoulder and across the chest – with a brass buckle worn on a leather belt).
pi dog - mongrel found all over India (abbrev. of pariah)
pukka – proper
PWD - Public Works Department
raj - kingdom, used in twentieth century chiefly to denote British rule in India from 1858 to 1947
sahib/ saheb - sir; European, also affixed to rank, thus 'Collector saheb'
salaam - salutation
sambhur - large Indian deer
satyagraha - civil disobedience on Gandhian principles of non-violence
shabash - well done
shamiana - marquee
shikar - sport (shooting and hunting)
solar topee - heavy pith helmet
Swaraj - Home Rule
tahsildar - local tax collector
taluka - (in South Asia) an administrative district for taxation purposes, typically comprising a number of villages. Each taluka has on an average two or three head clerks (aval karkuns), one each for the office, the treasury, and rounds of village inspection.
tamasha - spectacle
tank - artificial lake
teapoy - small tripod table
verandah - open gallery around bungalow
wallah – man; also as in box-wallah derogatory term for service in a (business) company as opposed to the civil or the armed services. Refers to boxes carried by door-to-door salesmen.

Some of the technical terms in the Administration are as near as I can manage from old hastily pencilled notes made as my father reminisced - when he did reminisce in those last years.....

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