I walked from the kitchen to the dining area carrying a pot of steaming hot sambar. Worried about someone bumping into me accidentally, I kept up a steady call of `Baaju, Baaju’ until I reached the table and lay down the pot.
“Have you noticed servers in crowded places in Kerala?” my father suddenly said, peering over the rim of his ever-present newspaper. “Or.. perhaps people carrying unwieldy stuff through crowded streets?” he added.
“Er.. yes, I suppose” said I, wondering where this was going.
“They say `Vayi, vayi, vayi’. Is it nicer somehow?…” he trailed off, disappearing behind the paper again.
I reflected on the two words. `Vayi‘ (Malayalam word) means `way’. So, when you say `vayi vayi vayi’ it sounds like a request to offer you a way forward. ‘Baaju‘ (Marathi word), meaning, move aside, sounds more like a peremptory order to `get out of my way’. The way they are uttered could change their palatability I suppose. But still…`Vayi’ does sound more polite.
Is there another Marathi word that is generally used in this situation? I don’t know. But for now, time for `baaju’ to make way for`vayi’ in my vocabulary!
I wonder what other words we use unthinkingly in mundane, everyday situations pack an unintentional sting in their tail.