Chapter XII

Notes on the text

(by Sharad Keskar)

[Page 295, verse heading] This verse, with a change in line six, became the first of a four verses long poem with the title: “The Sea and the Hills”, collected in Kipling’s The Five Nations. [1903]

[Page 296, line 9] holy-bolies A clever combination of English and Hindi, that literally means holy-speaking, or holy-chat; ergo, mantras or simply a litany.

[Page 296, line 15] tar-office telegraph office; tar is Hindi for wire, and ‘wire’ means a ‘telegram’.

[Page 296, line 31] Tum mut ‘you mustn’t’ or ‘don’t’ [Hindi].

[Page 297, line 7] Nickle-jao! Get out! [Hindi]

[Page 297, line 21] Oh zoolum! Exclamation equivalent to “Oh Hell!” [Hindustani]

[Page 298, line 21] Strickland Sahib Strickland was a familiar character in Kipling’s earlier Indian fiction, and a master of disguises. He first appears in
“Miss Youghal’s Sais” in Plain Tales from the Hills

[Page 299, line 8] polis a shortened clipped Indianised version of “police”.

[Page 300, line 21] bougainvillea-trellis Bouganvillea is a beautiful tropical creeper, with pink, red or mauve flowers, which grows best on a wooden crossed frame [trellis] against outer walls or pillars of a verandah.

[Page 301, line 22] the Sewaliks mountain range of Himalayan foothills, rising from 1,000 metres above sea-level, with Mussoorie Hill Station on a spur just over 2,000 metres or 7,000 feet approximately.

[Page 301, line 31] a white Doon siris a type of Acacia tree with light foliage. The Doon is the valley at the foot of the slope that climbs up the escarpment to Mussoorie.

[Page 303, line 2] Hog, the Dove, and the Serpent “drawn in the very centre of the Wheel of Life to represent the three roots of evil—greed, ignorance and hatred. But the three daughters of Mara, the Satan of Buddhism, are called Craving, Discontent, and Lust.” [Brigadier Alec Mason in the ORG]

[Page 304, line 24] Lhassa and the Dalai Lama Lhassa is the capital of Tibet, where the famous Potala fort and palace was the home of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhists and the living Buddha. The Dalai Lama is now in exile in Dharamsala in northern India.

[Page 307, line 14] the sugar lump Jaggery, that is unrefined brown sugar.

[Page 308, line 3] the Unjust Judge This parable (Luke 18) is also referred to as the ‘Parable of the Importunate Widow’. Its lesson is that one may as well agree to do something in order to prevent being pestered.

[Page 308, line 8] Arre! pr. array An exclamation to get attention: equivalent to ‘Listen! I say!’

[Page 308, line 22] mynah an Indian bird, slightly larger than a starling, tobacco brown in colour, and with a yellow beak. Like a parrot the bird is a mimic.

[Page 308, line 30] hakim an Indian doctor, and one who usually practices ayurvedic medicine, the ancient Hindu [Vedic] system of medicine.

[Page 311, line 9] Sinà the body, particularly the chest. The reference to drugs in this case will refer to the clearing of the lungs and bronchial tubes.

[Page 311, line 11] arplan a drug that is an aphrodisiac and rejuvenator.

[Page 311, [line 14] salep a starchy meal of ground wild orchid and other plant roots.

[Page 311, line 29] F.A. first year in Arts The successful completion of the second year was a B.A. degree. A “Failed B.A.” was entitled to F.A. if a pass in the 1st year exam was gained.

[Page 312, line 3] black cholera [kala hazar] a fatal form of cholera.

[Page 312, line 11] chowkedar [chowkidar] watchman or sentry.

[Page 312, [line 32] teaching the peacock to sing doing the impossible, because the peacock has a harsh and unmusical call.

[Page 314, line 32] suits him to the ground The English expression is ‘Suits him down to the ground’, meaning ‘suits him extremely well’.

[Page 315, line 1] upon the instantaneous spur of the moment a tautology by Hurree. The expression ‘Upon the spur of the moment’ means ‘instantaneously’.

[Page 315, line 2] take the bally bun the meaning – that Kim has done extremely well – is clear; this humorous misuse of the correct idiom, ‘take the cake’, is in character for Hurree.

[Page 315, line 18] dooli a covered litter or makeshift stretcher for the old, the sick, or for hire, on bamboo poles, carried by two or four men.

[Page 316, line 11] bukh (babble) all round the shop Kim, keen to get a clear and truthful report, has advised Hurree to speak in Hindi. He himself is more at home in Hindi, and not a correct user of idiomatic English — this is evidence of that fact. Kim has confused ‘all over the shop’ and ‘beating about the bush’. [bukh means ‘talk’, and in the context, Kipling has more aptly translated it as “babble”]

[Page 316, line 13] guggled gurgled.

[Page 316, line 31] Hilás and Bunár Chilas and Buner were states in the upper Himalayan reaches of the River Indus.

[Page 317, line 24] I go on colloquially Hurree is keen to display the full range of his English vocabulary. Earlier he said: “Now I will speak vernacular.” In both instances he means he will revert to Hindustani.

[Page 318, line 2] by speech of tongue the idiom is “by word of mouth”.

[Page 318, [line 11] mouthpiece of a Kaisar Hurree means ‘spokesmen of the Emperor of Russia’. ‘Kaiser’ was the German word for ‘Emperor’, but for Russia he should have said ‘Tsar’. Kipling’s genius lies in getting his characters to speak as they would, making the kinds of errors they, typically, might make.

[Page 319, line 2] tommy-rott nonsense.

[Page 318, line 20] Herbert Spencer British philosopher (1820-1903). An evolutionary, he believed that death was not an end, but that all organisms change.

[Page 320, line 5] cui bono to whom the good; just deserts.

[Page 320, line 30] veree verdant a poetic, if bombastic, description of the fertile Doon valley.

[Page 320, line 31] pahar Hindustani for mountain, hill, hence paharis ‘hillfolk’.

[Page 321, line 5] Chandernagore The French settlement in Bengal, estb. 1691.

[Page 322, line 14] green-mango colic the sour unripe mango used in pickles and curries, if eaten on its own, can produce stomach colic, and set the teeth on edge.

[Page 324, line13] rack-renting Extracting an extortionate rent.

[Page 325, line 18] stewed to rags overcooked.