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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Contact Me: Meaning of the hindi word 'chalo'

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Reeba Schwegler

Subject: Meaning of the hindi word 'chalo'
Posted: 6 Aug 2005 10:12 am


Dear Moxon,
read your Indian travels with great interest (I am an Indian). Late in the day, you might say!!

You clarified the meaning of the hindi word 'chalo' as equivalent of the english slang 'f*... off'.
In reality it is the opposite, in the sense that it is the polite form of telling someone to go away.

The exact translation would mean 'let's go', which includes the speaker.
So when you say 'chalo', meaning 'go away' you are including yourself, but in fact you are telling 'them' to go away.

I hope I have managed to convey what I wanted to, and have not complicated it further.
Thank you once again for sharing your experience.
All the best
Reeba

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Mark Moxon

Subject: Chelo
Posted: 7 Aug 2005 4:15 pm


Hi Reeba.

I think you've misread what I wrote. I say that 'chelo Pakistan' is the Indian equivalent of 'fuck off', not just 'chelo' on its own. Isn't this the case? If not, then it would be good to know, because this is what I heard on more than on occasion.

'Chelo' on its own, though, is not offensive at all and, as you say, means 'go' or 'let's go'. It's the addition of the Pakistan part that changes things, which is why I wrote about it; it's culturally fascinating.

Hope this makes sense!

Best wishes,

Mark

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Reeba

Subject: 'chalo'
Posted: 7 Aug 2005 7:05 pm


Hello Mark,
'Chalo Pakistan' would mean 'Let's go to Pakistan' - as conquerors!!! Ahem...something like Bush saying 'chalo Iraq' - before now, that is.

Well, this is sort of a cheesy slogan. They hope to rouse the Pakistani ire!! Very childish, I agree.

There is really no phrase equivalent to the one you are referring to, in hindi, at least none that I know of (and it is my language), or any that is commonly used.

As an aside. Though I enjoy all your articles, my favourite one is 'India and cricket', mainly because I chuckled and grinned right through. I don't think any other description of India could get more apt.

Thank you for the excellently written articles about my country, and at least understanding very well a part of the 'elephant's body'. It is too complex a land to get the whole picture, I know.
Best wishes
Reeba

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Reeba

Subject: Continuing with my post, above.
Posted: 8 Aug 2005 9:37 am


Hello Mark,
as you see I am still mulling over an exact description of what 'chalo Pakistan' would mean (can't help it, I am a teacher).

So I think I finally have the right sense of it.

It would mean 'march on/to' Pakistan.

In fact when people have an issue with the government, and would like to demonstrate there, you can hear slogans of 'Dilli chalo'.

Thanks for your patience with my pursuing of this matter with such tenacity.

Best wishes.
Reeba

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Mark Moxon

Subject: Chelo
Posted: 8 Aug 2005 5:06 pm


Hi Reeba.

I'm certainly not 100% sure of my interpretation of 'chelo Pakistan', but at least I'm not alone in thinking that it can be used as an invective. Smile Here's another conversation on the subject on another site:

www.indiamike.com/india/archive/index.php/t-4510.html

Then again, there's also disagreement there, so who knows? I suppose it could be slang and only used in certain places... or it could simply be a phrase that does the rounds with travellers, but which has no basis in fact! 'Marching on to Pakistan' sounds plausible, but it's hard to know for sure.

Any further information gratefully received!

Best wishes,

Mark

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Reeba

Subject: 'chalo Pakistan'
Posted: 8 Aug 2005 5:46 pm


Hello Mark,
it seems that it is an Israeli girl repeating what she knows, and being related by someone also not an Indian. Whether the man was speechless or felt foolish, I don't know. It really proves nothing, except, as I first mentioned, it could mean'go away to Pakistan'.

The simple logic is that you cannot say 'let's go/go away' and expect it to mean anything else but that.
Even in English they had to invent a different word for the use it's intended for. One couldn't have left the words 'go away' as such to mean F* off.

In my opinion a rose is a rose, call it by
any name, but F* off is not F*off if you call it by any other name, especially a normal decent word like 'Let's go/go away'.

Anyway, here is a link:
www.roadjunky.com/india/himalayashouse.shtml

Also, if you write 'chalo Pakistan' and google you'll discover a lot more.
Best wishes.
Reeba

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Mark Moxon

Subject: Chalo
Posted: 10 Aug 2005 8:38 am


Hi Reeba.

I'm still confused, but I don't think it matters. Your link is to another story about 'chalo Pakistan' being a grave insult, and that's pretty much all I'm saying in my piece. So it looks like we're in agreement, whatever the specific meaning of the phrase; the offence isn't caused by the innocent word 'chalo', or even the word Pakistan, but by the combination of the two.

I can't think of a direct equivalent in English, but I'm sure there's one out there somewhere!

Best wishes,

Mark

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Reeba

Subject: equally confused
Posted: 11 Aug 2005 5:48 pm


Hello Mark,
as you say, it doesn't matter, but it worries me that Pakistanis reading this might believe something which is not true.

My latest thoughts:
1. I was being rather tentative in my explanations, till now, because I have been living in Switzerland for some time, and thought this must be a new development. It suddenly dawned on me that I was actually living in India while you were travelling, and now can say for sure, there is really no such remark, apart from the 'slogan'.

2. I had written e-mails to my friends and family asking for help, and no one knows anything about it. They were all unanimous in saying nobody would take it as an insult (to be told to go to Pakistan). In fact the opening of the border has made it easier for people to go there.

3.It is an odd construction of the phrase, if used for an insult at all, as the remark is without a grain of sting in it. As a 'slogan' or 'imperative' it would be alright but hardly as an insult.

4. My conclusion is that there is a major misunderstanding. The context perhaps would tell one more. Maybe the word is not 'Pakistan', (The old woman in remote Himalayas would hardly use such an expression. Old traditional people are not known to repeat 'modern' catch phrases - but that's not your story)

5. I'll be going to India in October, to the North - Delhi, Rajasthan (will look out for the 'Tony Blair' fellow) and try to find out.
Will get back here if I discover anything.

The reason I'm pursuing so is, because I really don't want Pakistanis to think that we consider it an insult to go to Pakistan.

Best Wishes.
Reeba

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Mark Moxon

Subject: Chelo
Posted: 11 Aug 2005 6:19 pm


Hi Reeba.

Fair enough. As for me, I think I'll just reword the footnote where I mentioned it, just in case it's wrong. I certainly don't claim to be an expert, and wouldn't want to offend anyone unintentionally...

Best wishes,

Mark

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Shawn

Subject: Meaning of Chalo
Posted: 3 Sep 2012 8:36 pm


Hi, I just stumbled upon this hindi/urdu song which has the word 'Chalo'. The song has subtitles so it will give some of you a clear understanding of the word 'Chalo'. Check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZban4DCRoc

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