A group of retired educators are often seen in fellowship on the golf course. The fact that these are not mundane outings is demonstrated in this article by Thayalan Reddy an ardent member who is a Fulbright linguistics scholar.
Indians playing golf are perhaps like Bengal tigers coming out of the woods (pun definitely intended) to assail an unwary public. But not everyone is cognisant of the creative linguistic phenomenon that occurs when Indians take enthusiastically to teeing off at the course.
Our group is a merry mix of north and south- with the south dominating. So when Sardar is striking this could be accompanied by the exhortation ‘’maro somaro’’ and if Perry or VJ are wielding their weapons one could hear ‘’ádi vadi’’. The alliteration will certainly not be lost to a group which takes joy in the linguistic diversity that is present and whether the ball or the player is being punished is a debatable issue. There is also the story of a caddie who disappointed with a golfer’s rather wild strike uttered in consternation: ‘’ Ena shaya moya” (He is hitting the wind in Zulu).
Sometimes two players are lying in close proximity and this evokes the comment that they are ‘verr kotas’’ which in Tamil denotes seeds being together. The reference to Indians and their agricultural links are never lost on the occasion. Then a player going down the fairway could find himself instead in a culvert which evokes an ominous ‘He is in the valley of sin.’’ This is punishment for misdemeanours committed by the errant player and no one is going to demonstrate any enthusiastic support to assist in his absolution . In this regard he is on his own – of course selfishness is a worthy trait on the golf course. The player has to suffer a biblical injunction on his own. VJ is smart in these allusions and one might hear him utter a sense of consolation where an errant ball bounces off a branch and this results in a transferred epithet that ‘God was lucky…’’ Or perhaps ‘The special branch gave you a break! This conjures visions of the ominous Apartheid secret police showing some unexpected compassion. Sometimes two players find themselves in a rather parlous position in the fringe of a thicket and this could evoke the following sentiment: ‘’Hey you fellas going for a branch meeting or what? ‘’
Our group has its own creative version of a mulligan where a player is allowed an additional stroke when he hits a ball that decides to move on its own volition without any consideration for the inclinations of the striker. This might evoke the words: Hey you going for Malliga ? This cavalier stance with its exotic, and I daresay, erotic, implication is only possible out of the earshot of one’s spouse. Distance lends enchantment to the view – or disenchantment would surely follow an irate partner’s unwelcome physical attention in the form of carefully executed blows around one’s ears.
Papwa Sewgolam Golf Course lies adjacent to a cemetery in Clare Estate, Durban and it is not uncommon for some rather macabre anecdotes to make their rounds. One such is the story of a golfer on seeing a funeral procession going past, doffs his cap, stands solemnly for a minute and then continues to play. His mate on observing the uncharacteristic solemnity of his friend remarks: That person who passed away must certainly mean a lot to you. To which the rejoinder was ‘’ Ya man, after all we were married for 40 years, you know.’’
Putting brings its own challenges and often brings its own climax (or anti-climax) to the game. It is not uncommon to skirt around the cavalier droppings of the Egyptian geese on the greens or to take note of the blacksmith plover which shrieks its warnings about territorial invasion or the distractions of the loerie which is determined to assure you of its beautiful plumage as it flits by. On one occasion Nyne was going for par but unfortunately missed. There was a sigh of compassion “parvon’’, the final vowel being nasalised and in Tamil means ‘’such a pity’’ an appropriate emotion for the occasion. Such creativity is the hallmark of healthy multi-lingualism.
There is richness in language and the discourse pertaining to dialectics of the golfing world is certainly fascinating. One needs to take cognisance of the varieties of spoken and written forms which continue to enchant us with their possibilities.