Stairs that Walk themselves: A Love Letter to Hindi

As I walked through the extremely crowded and throbbing railway station last evening, the heat in the air and the weight of my laptop bag on my shoulders urged me to look for an escalator instead of climbing up the stairs that easily look like they’re two  storey high. These escalators are a rather new addition to our daily commuting experience in the Western Railway in Mumbai and do take away some of the sting from the drudgery that is this over-crowded bursting at its seams city. Ever often I see shy saree-clad women grab on to their husbands as they get on these escalators, many for the first times in their adult life. It’s heart-warming. Watching my country colour foreign concepts in the shades of local culture never fails to amuse me.

So as I located an escalator, I looked up to find an instruction board with the word ‘ESCALATOR’  closely followed by its Hindi translation ‘Swachalit Seediyan’ which literally translates into ‘stairs that walk themselves’. Hindi just never fails to amuse with its characteristic quirkiness. The other day as I rode an auto back home, another Hindi signboard caught my eye. The Hindi word for Juice Centre:“Raswanti Griha”. I don’t even know how to translate the hilariously female connotation in this one!

*chuckled to myself much to the amusement of my co-passengers*

The final word that I remember seeing in a Bollywood movie I think was the Hindi word for Cricket : ‘Lamba Dand Gol Pind Dhad-pakad Pratiyogita’ which roughly translates to:  a long stick, a round ball, running and catching competition.

*dies laughing*

How sad in spite of the absolutely brilliant vocabulary of this language, the most commonly known Hindi word is:


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