~By Dilip Bobb
Lexicographers, those who compile dictionaries, have been working overtime in the recent past trying to cope with the flood of new words and phrases that are becoming part of contemporary vocabulary. Whether in India or elsewhere, the list of words that make up today’s lexicon is literally adding meaning to our lives. Here are some of the most popular:
Webaqoof: Those who believe every word or rumour that appears on the internet or on social media, especially WhatsApp, to be absolutely true, and act accordingly, usually irrationally and with extreme hostility.
Challenger Series: Originally referred to a series of professional tennis tournaments but is now connected to the challenge thrown by various celebrities and VIPs, starting with the fitness challenge which saw the PM in designer workout gear bending over backwards—something he will never do in the political arena—and has now been extended to a Loyalty Challenge which is a fit enough metaphor for the manner in which politicians are busy wooing members of opposing parties.
Jumla: A word that has become popular in the post Modi era, generally used to attack an opponent for making empty promises (Rs 15 lakh in every bank account), and now used in a general way to describe anything that is questionable or not working as planned: eg: “jumlaeconomics”.
Hate Watching: Defined in the modern dictionary as the process of watching television shows while simultaneously hating the content of the show or the anchor hosting it. The obvious example is Arnab Goswami and his raving and ranting to do with exaggerated TRP-fuelled nationalism/jingoism and also his obvious bias in favour of the ruling party. Most viewers don’t agree with his views but continue to watch the show for the fireworks and its entertainment value alone.
Humblebrag: An orator or speaker who makes ostensibly modest statements about his origins and hard work in which the actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud. Narendra Modi is a past master at the art of humblebrag with his constant proclamations on his chaiwala origins and how much he feels for the common man while devising policies that benefit corporate fat cats.
Flip flopper: Not related to the flip flops worn by Mamata Banerjee but a word used to describe a candidate or politician who changes his mind on certain important issues or even to do with whose side he/she is on. The prime example is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who is once again having second thoughts about the coalition he has backed, or the Shiv Sena which attacks its natural ally, the BJP every chance it gets. With Kumar, it is an occupational hazard but there are other politicians who are joining the ranks of the flip floppers closer to Election 2019.
Hugomacy: A trend started by Narendra Modi when he goes abroad and meets foreign leaders and greets them with a bearhug, often to the discomfort of those at the receiving end. That has not stopped his hugomacy, intended to win friends and influence events.
Cellfish: Found all across India, and used to describe those who continue to talk loudly on their cellphones oblivious to the effect on everyone around them. Some Cellfish are selfish enough to deliberately do so in crowded places, just to show how important they are in the scheme of things.
Elecelleration: Another very Indian habit—the mistaken notion that the more you press an elevator button the faster it will arrive. Indians are especially prone to this habit—you can see a group of people taking turns to frantically press the button, especially in hospitals and malls.
Textpectation: The anticipation one feels when waiting for a response to a text message that you felt was clever and intelligent. This especially applies to trolls who are now a ubiquitous part of the Indian political landscape.
Glamping: A section of society, usually the affluent Indian, who like to give the impression of enjoying the great outdoors—hiking, camping etc, but refuse to do so unless there is indoor plumbing involved.
Mitron: Traditionally used to refer to “friends” but the man who uses it most often—Narendra Modi—has made it sound like a warning/threat, as in a large group of unsuspecting people about to be hit by something they will take a long time to recover from (Demonetisation?).
Pidilite: Originally associated with an industrial house that specialises in adhesives, but has now become popular in official circles when referring to Rahul Gandhi’s pet dog, and his master’s standing in the political firmament.