Halloween Fightercocks

My mother has a talent of giving this deadpan delivery of hilarious one-liners (or one-paragraphers) without realizing it 98% of the time. I speak to her almost every Saturday morning on Skype and yesterday, I asked her what she was doing for Halloween. 

She proceeded to explain to me that true Halloween is not about (barely) wearing an inappropriate costume and drunkenly falling face first into your plate of onion rings at an after-hours diner. She might have not used these words specifically, but it fully captures the essence of her schpeel. 

I asked her about what Halloween was like growing up. She grew up in Goa, India where Halloween was actually “celebrated” on November 2nd- All Soul’s Day, a day observed by Catholics to honor the dead. Here’s an actual serious conversation we had about All Soul’s Day  and a little cultural lesson for us all (me included) about “Halloween” in Goa:

Mom: “No one dresses up on All Souls Day, unless you want to look like a jackass. All Soul’s Day is really supposed to be  scary.”

Karen: “So what do you actually do?”

Mom: “People rob and steal your things.”

Karen: *insert this face*

It takes A LOT to tear my attention away from chicken wings and my mother knows just how to do it.

Karen: “People steal stuff?”

Mom: “Yes. You know, because its scary. It’s like a ghost came to mess with you. Sometimes when you wake up in the morning, you may find all your vases in the garden missing. Or you may find your vase in a different location in the garden.”

Karen: *still has the face*

Mom continues…

“This one time, all of Marie Lou’s expensive pond rocks went missing. Her son bought them for her from Dubai you know. Turns out they were all at the local cemetery.”

Karen: Her son went to Dubai and bought her rocks?

Mom: “Yes. They’re decorative.”

Karen: “Nevermind. How the heck did Marie Lou know where to find her pond rocks?”

Mom: “If you lose something on All Soul’s Day, its most likely at the cemetery.”

Karen: “Sounds like a hassle for everyone involved.”

Mom: “No kidding! You have to be so careful too, especially if you are a fightercock. Then everyone hates you and  steals your pond rocks.”

(Quick glossary: The word “fightercock” is my mother’s umbrella term for bitches, douchebags and people who shouldn’t be talking.)

Karen: “So I guess if you’re a fightercock, most of your stuff will probably be dumped at the cemetery.”

Mom: “Oh yes. But you have to go there as soon as you can and claim your stuff. You don’t want robbers to take your things from the cemetery before you get to it.” 

My mom’s village apparently ran on the adage- Rob me once, I’m a fightercock. Rob me twice- I’m a lazycock. 

She continues, clearly enjoying my rapt attention to  this newly discovered Halloween tradition. 

Mom: “And not all your stuff ends up in the cemetery…some of it is in other people’s houses”

Karen: “Whaaaaaa?” *insert this face*

I don’t know who this fightercock is. But she was photo bombing our picture so she probably deserves to have her pond rocks stolen.

Mom: “Yes! Sometimes stuff from your garden will end up in someone else’s garden and vice versa.”

Karen: “Doesn’t anyone call the damn cops?”

Mom: “Cops don’t like getting involved with ghosts, Karen.”

Karen: “Right, of course not”

Mom: “One time, Sebby woke up on All Soul’s Day and found all the bananas off her banana trees in the backyard GONE! In all fairness though, everyone knew what a big fightercock she was. Now, she lost her bananas. Haha”

Karen: “Poor Sebby. Did she find her bananas at the cemetery?”

Mom: “No. But she visited her archenemy Antoinette later that day and saw that Antoinette had an unusual amount of bananas at home. When she asked her about them, Antoinette told her she bought them to make banana fritters.”

Karen: “Ugh! Banana fritters my ass!”

Mom: “Indeed! Watch your language.”

By the end of this conversation, I wanted to just drop my Kate Middleton costume altogether and replace my neighbour’s pots of geraniums with pumpkins. Or steal the lawn gnomes off my neighbours down the street and send them ransom notes for each one. Granted none of my poor neighbors are fightercocks, but its been so long since I’ve been able to blame anything on a mischievous ghost. 

I made a firm resolve that next year for Halloween, I’m going as a fightercock. 

Because in the end what it comes down to is this: Would you rather go the traditional route and wear a Halloween costume? Or would you rather piss the hell out of the fightercocks in your life?

Also, I know I’ve asked you guys this before but everything’s funner when there’s a poll:

The Beginners Guide to Learning Goan

My family comes from a little state in India known as Goa. To most people in the world, the people of Goa are known as Goans. To most Goans, the people of Goa are known as Portuguese. Perhaps some of us still cradle fond memories of our land being pillaged by Portuguese imperialists.

But I suppose Goans do possess certain age-old attachments to our colonist. After all, we practice their religion, we have their food and my parents` generation still speak a basterdized version of their language.

Most Goans will tell you that there are primarily three languages spoken in Goa. The first being Konkani, which is the state language, Hindi which is the national language and Pig English which is a language you pick up by watching Bollywood movies.

To those of my readers who are Goans, this post might inspire some guilty laughs and maybe even a nostalgic tear. To those of my readers who have Goan friends, please be inspired to shamelessly pass on this post to them, and to those of you who are not Goan, this post might inspire boredom. But consider this a free lesson to fitting in if you ever decided to visit Goa.

The Goan language is very simple. The knowledge of English, which I assume you already have, is helpful but minimally required. This is because:

Lesson #1: Major portion of the Goan language consists of sound effects.

The use of sound effects had always been a very important tool in written accounts like comic books to portray the magnitude of punches, gunshots, slaps and incessant crying. Goan is a language that uses sound effects in verbal communication. These sound effects exist simply to aid the main verb. Just in case you weren’t paying attention.  

So for example, when my grandmother in Goa decides to gossip to the neighbours about my broken foot, she would say “DUPP! She fell.” If the fact that someone fell down and had a serious injury doesn’t get the desired reaction, yelling DUPPP (sounds like cup) will certainly wake the listener up from any indifferent comatose state they might have been in.

Other examples of sound effects are ZUP! (sounds like soup) to signify speed and “FAATAAK!” (pronounced as faaat-aaak) to signify anything from a popping sound to bitch slaps. Now when my grandmother gossips about my broken foot with her cronies she will say:

 “Areyy… vot to tell you Marilou, ZUP! Karen was running and then DUP! she fell and FAAATAAAK! her foot broke.”

Poor Marilou nods understandingly and has images in her mind of some airhead who ran  faster than the roadrunner on crystal meth, had a coma-awakening fall and then a domino effect of bone breakage starting from toe to femur. “She must have been vearing heels vhen theese happened.”, Marilou finally concedes.

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Lesson #2: Word repetition

Word repetition is a phenomenon born out of the one character flaw of most Goans: laziness. Lazy behavior is not just confined to finishing a work day at lunch break. It also extends to language. For example: I was an incredibly slow eater when I was a child. My mother had the patience of a Nazi soldier when it came to meal times. With good reason too since dinner would have extended into the wee hours of the night had she not barked out:

“Eat fast-fast!”

‘Eat fast fast’ is the shortened version of “Get your act together and eat your damn curry, kid!…or there’ll be a stick”. Today, I’m a well-rounded individual who loves food and hoovers everything put in front of me at the table. Evidence to show that (the threat of) corporal punishment works swimmingly when done right.

Other examples of word repetitions are: “Look!..that buffalo is running-running!” (Translation: That buffalo is running really fast and will probably overtake those dumbasses on the Honda Kinetic scooter who were poking him with sticks.)

Or, “Areyy Seby!…your tie is matching-matching!” (Translation: Hey Sebastian! Your tie matches the rest of your clothes. Good job, buddy!)

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Lesson #3: There are no numbers. Just hand gestures.

As you have seen above, sound effects aid verbs. When you keep talking like this, you will soon find that sound effects can sometimes actually even replace a verb. (example: She was running-running and then DUP!) In the same way, hand gestures are a great way to completely get rid of numbers. To all you Math haters out there, you will never have to use numbers if you acquire the skill of guesstimating measurement, age and shoe size through hand gestures.

Some examples: The sizes of small items like chillies, pills and tiny fish are determined by finger size. This works well because the fingers in a hand come in 5 different sizes.

The sizes of slightly larger items like ginger, green peppers and bigger fish are determined by hand size. Slightly less convenient than fingers.

And the sizes of very large items like genetically modified papayas, altar linens and really big fish are determined by your whole arm. The good thing about using a whole arm is that you can adjust the sizes according to the joint dividers of your palm, hand, forearm and arm. Coincidently, this is the same way one would guesstimate the age/height of newborns and toddlers.

As for shoe sizes, all you do is cut out the outline of your foot on a piece of cardboard and take it with you to the shoe store.

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And that my friends in a nutshell is a basic guide on how to get by when you go to Goa. Of course there are many aspects in the Goan culture that contribute to the language but for now this should be enough for you to converse with the locals and take in culture with slightly less confusion. After all, the Goan experience of beaches, parties, food and relaxation cannot be fully enjoyed without the lingo. At least not for me :)