Our diverse Indian culture does not have any dearth of cuss words. Unlike the west, I think we are privileged to have an unparalleled rich lexicon of such words, which is constantly growing and being improvised. If we were to document all the cuss words in our country, I am confident that we will have an envious collection using which we can abuse any person; any body part of him/her; anyone related to that person; and any combination of these and much more. Even though one is expected to take offense to such words, I have observed that over time some of these profane words have become part of small talk and friendly banter. So much so, that people hardly hear them when they are spoken.

One such example is “Baincho”. I have seen this word being happily thrown around in certain parts of North India. Even some of my north Indian colleagues seem to be very unapologetic and casual using this in every day conversation. My recent vacation to Rajasthan gave credence to this fact and I am finally convinced that “Baincho” is akin to punctuation in large parts of North India. Trust me baincho!

I hope you are all aware of what “Baincho” is and what it means. In case you do not have this as part of your personal profane dictionary, here is the opportunity to add something new. The origin of this word is “Bahen Ch#%” [If you still did not get it, please call or mail me]. It literally means “Sister Fu&$#%”. I hope you now get the gravity of the situation and how serious and damaging of an abuse this can be. I personally think that it can [rather, it should, ahem] have catastrophic effects on folks who have a sister. Time and liberal everyday use, has metamorphosed the word from “Bahen Ch#%” to the uber-cool “Baincho”. I will now backup my case with a few examples of real world incidents which I witnessed in Rajasthan. The characters in these incidents are undoubtedly from the northern states of India.

We were visiting the historic Amer Fort in Jaipur. While clicking pictures, I observed that the hero in my first incident was standing against a backdrop of the Sheesh Mahal. He was well set for the picture with a perfect smile, sunglasses, hands in his pocket, legs crossed, etc. His friend who was taking the picture casually told him to change his chosen backdrop… “Udhar nahi… idhar kade ho jaa baincho” [“Not there… instead stand here sister fu&$#%”]. The hero followed his instruction without a protest of any magnitude. Picture clicked… and after seeing the picture that his friend had taken, the hero commented “Aacha hain baincho” [“It looks good sister fu&$#%”]. These two cool dudes were clearly using “Baincho” where a well civilized person would have used “dude” or “bro”. I was aghast at this lackadaisical banter, never mind how close a bonding they shared.

The next incident was what actually confirmed my perception that “Baincho” is nothing but punctuation at its best. We were on our way to Jodhpur from Jaipur. We planned to visit Pushkar along the way. As we reached Pushkar, our driver called one his friends who would serve as our guide in Pushkar. We met his friend and we proceeded towards Pushkar. We had to pay an entry fee of sort to enter Pushkar. The driver was asked to pay Rs 30. After having interacted with him for about four days, I was convinced that the driver was a very well-mannered guy. Upon hearing that he had to pay Rs 30 as fee, he showed unexpected outrage “Thees rupay kyun le raha hain baincho?” [“Why are you taking Rs 30 sister fu&$#%?”]. I was shit scared. Here I am, with my wife and two daughters, in the wilderness on some godforsaken highway in Rajasthan. I have never got into a physical conflict with anyone till date… including my wife. Any day, I prefer peace instead of encountering such situations, leave alone surviving them. Considering all of this, I was really worried about what was in store.

Upon hearing the driver, the guy collecting the fee retorted “Tho kya baincho, muft main jayega?” [“Are you looking to go for free you sister fu&$#%?”]. Holy shit, I was convinced hell was going to break lose in the next few minutes. The driver called his friend and explained the situation to him. His friend immediately exclaimed “Baincho” [“Sister fu&$#%”] at no one in particular. What next ensued was priceless. The driver and his buddy teamed up and took on the two guys who were collecting the fee. A heated argument followed and lot of “Baincho”s were thrown liberally, by all four of them, for about five minutes. Finally the driver returned to the car and told me “Baincho log… abhi bees rupay ke liya maan gaya” [“Sister fu&$#% they are, now they agreed for Rs 20”]. I was speechless and just nodded my head in disbelief. It was hard for me to imagine that all of this effort was to save a monumental Rs 10. And it was comical to see that these blokes never really heard “baincho” in their verbal scuffle, even though they called it out a zillion times.

The final incident worth mentioning was over lunch at a restaurant in Udaipur. The restaurant had served us a delectable lunch. I was finishing off the last few morsels, when the scene unfolded in front of me. There was a group of friends at the neighboring table. One of them asked “Khaana kaisa hain?” [“How is the food?”]. His friend replied “Acha hain baincho” [“It is good sister fu&$#%”]. The former guy answered back “Mein bola na saale” [“Did I not tell you brother-in-law?”]. Now this scenario theoretically made sense. If the guy was really his brother-in-law, then I think there was no harm in calling him a baincho. Sorry about this sarcastic reading of the incident… but this word was nauseating for me now.

I now rest my case. I hope I have given enough evidence to prove my theory.

Whenever I travel, I do like observing the cultural nuances out there. Among the many cultural takeaways from Rajasthan was this fact about how an obscene word meant almost nothing out there. Funny world we live in!