Another Glossary for “Midnight’s Children”

bookbread pencil shavings

These are all taken from either the Oxford English Dictionary or Wikipedia. I will say that Rushdie’s novel has been the most vocabulary-challenging novel I’ve read since Joyce’s Ulysses.

almirah: (Bengali) a free-standing cupboard, wardrobe, or other storage unit: (also) a chest of drawers.

ayah:  (Portuguese) a native-born nurse or maidservant, employed esp. by Europeans in India and other parts of South Asia.

badmaash: (Urdu) A scoundrel, a rogue; a miscreant; a hooligan, a ruffian.

bajra: The name in Indian vernaculars of various kinds of grain (e.g. Penicillaria spicata, Panicum vulgare) extensively grown in India.

bhel-puri: (Hindi)  In Indian cookery: a dish or snack typically consisting of puffed rice, onions, potatoes, and spicy and sweet chutneys, sometimes served on a puri.

birianis: (Hindi) Biryani, sometimes spelled biriyani or biriani, is a mixed rice dish from the Indian subcontinent. It is made with spices, rice and meat or vegetables.

brinjal: The Anglo-Indian name of the fruit of the Egg-plant ( Solanum melongena).

 chaprassi: doorkeeper, messenger.

 charpoy: (Urdu) the common light Indian bedstead.

 chatterjees: person who talks a lot, gossip.

 chavanni: (Hindi) a unit of currency:

1 Rupee = 100 Paisa

1 Rupee = 16 Anna and 4 Paisa (in old calculation)

1 Anna = 6 Paisa

Chavanni = 4 anna = 24 paisa

chawl: (Marathi, Sanskrit)  an Indian lodging-house.

 chutney: A strong hot relish or condiment compounded of ripe fruits, acids, or sour herbs, and flavoured with chillies, spices, etc.

 cheroot: (FR) a cigar made in Southern India or Manilla. This sort being truncated at both ends, the name was extended to all cigars with the two extremities cut off square, as distinguished from the ordinary cigar, which has one end pointed.

coir: (Mayalam) the prepared fibre of the husk of the coco-nut, used for making ropes, cordage, matting, etc. Originally, the thread or cordage made of this fibre.

crorepatis: both of Indian and Pakistani language of Millionaire. Crorepati a person who resides in a household whose net worth or wealth exceeds ten million rupees, or units of another currency.

dhow: a native vessel used on the Arabian Sea, generally with a single mast, and of 150 to 200 tons burden; but the name is somewhat widely applied to all Arab vessels, and has become especially well known in connection with the slave trade on the East coast of Africa.

djellabeh: clothing similar to a kaftan.

djinn: also romanized as djinn or anglicized as genies, are supernatural creatures in early Arabian and later Islamic mythology and theology. An individual member of the jinn is known as a jinni, djinni, or genie (الجني, al-jinnī).

dugdugee: some kind of drum.

dupatta: (Hindi) A doubled or two-layered length of cloth worn by women as a scarf, veil, or shoulder wrap.

 Eid-ul-Fitr: Eid al-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر‎ ʻĪd al-Fiá¹­r, IPA: [Ê•iːd al fitˤr], “festival of breaking of the fast”), also called Breaking the Fast Feast, the Sugar Feast, Bayram (Bajram), the Sweet Festival or Hari Raya Puasa[3] and the Lesser Eid, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). The religious Eid is a single day during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on the observation of new moon by local religious authorities, so the exact day of celebration varies by locality. However, in most countries, it is generally celebrated on the same day as Saudi Arabia.

 fissiparous: Of organisms: producing new individuals by fission.

 forfend: To forbid, prohibit. With the thing forbidden as object, or with personal object and an inf. with to as second object. Obs.

fustian: (OF) Formerly, a kind of coarse cloth made of cotton and flax. Now, a thick, twilled, cotton cloth with a short pile or nap, usually dyed of an olive, leaden, or other dark colour.

godown: (Italian, Malaysian)  A warehouse or other place for storing goods.

goondas: (Hindi) rascals, goons.

gram (food): the chick-pea, a kind of vetch, Cicer arietinum. Sometimes called Bengal gram. The name is extended to any kind of pulse used as food for horses.

goitred (adj): affected with, of the nature of, or pertaining to, goitre. Of a locality: Characterized by the prevalence of goitre.

hamal: (Arabic) a Turkish or Oriental porter; in Western India, a palanquin-bearer.

hortal: (Latin) growing in a garden; cultivated.

houris: A nymph of the Muslim Paradise. Hence applied allusively to a voluptuously beautiful woman.

janum: some kind of title, or either respect or affection.

 jawan: (Urdu) An Indian soldier.

 jowar:  Indian millet, Sorghum vulgare, extensively cultivated in India. Also attrib.

kachcha: (Hindi-English) crude, imperfect, or temporary.

khichri: (Hindi) (kedgeree)  An Indian dish of rice boiled with split pulse, onions, eggs, butter, and condiments; also, in European cookery, a dish made of cold fish, boiled rice, eggs, and condiments, served hot. Also transf. and fig.

kofta: (Hindi) meatball; a rissole, made of meat or fish, popular in the East.

kurta: (Hindi)  A loose shirt or tunic worn by men and women.

laddoo: (Hindi) A type of Indian sweetmeat, usu. made from a dough of flour, sugar, shortening, etc., which is fried and then shaped into balls; a ball of this. Cf. jalebi n.

maulvi: (Urdu) A Muslim doctor of the law; an imam. Also gen. (esp. in South Asia): a teacher of Arabic, a learned man. Also as a title and form of address.

mehndi: (SK) chiefly in South Asia: the henna plant, Lawsonia inermis, often used as hedging; (also) a preparation of this, used to dye skin and hair.

mildewing: to affect or taint with mildew.

muezzin: (Arabic) Islam. A public crier who proclaims the regular hours of ritual prayer from the minaret or the roof of a mosque.

nakkoo: Person with an outsized nose or curiosity, a Nosey-Parker.

nawab: In South Asia: a Muslim official who acted as a deputy ruler or viceroy of a province or district under the Mughal empire (now hist.); any governor of a town or district, or person of high status. Also: the title of such a person.

nictate: (Latin) to wink or blink; (also) to act as a nictitating membrane.

olfactory: (Latin) a thing to be smelled.

 outre:  Beyond the bounds of what is usual or considered correct and proper; unusual, peculiar; eccentric, unorthodox; extreme.

paan: (Hindi) a preparation of betel leaves chewed as a stimulant; spec. a mixture of chopped areca nut, slaked lime, and other ingredients wrapped in a betel leaf.

pakoras: (Hindi) An appetizer or snack made from pieces of chopped vegetable or other foodstuff that have been coated in seasoned batter and deep-fried.

parathas: In South Asia and in South Asian communities elsewhere: a type of unleavened bread fried on a griddle in butter or ghee, and sometimes served with a filling.

pean: A fur resembling ermine but having gold markings on a black field. Also as adj.

piebald: Chiefly derogatory. Composed of differing or incongruous parts; motley, mixed.

 piscine: (MF) a pond, a pool, esp. one for swimming or bathing.

plimsoll: Naut. attrib. and in the genitive. Chiefly with capital initial. Designating a marking or series of markings on the side of a merchant ship which indicates, in British maritime law, the draught level to which the ship may be loaded with cargo (now consisting of a set of six such marks applying to different sea conditions); esp.

prehensile: capable of prehension; (Zool., of a tail, limb, etc.) capable of grasping or holding.

pomfret: (PG) Any of several Indo-Pacific butterfishes of the genus Pampus (family Stromateidae). Freq. with distinguishing adjective.

purdah: (Urdu) orig. and chiefly S. Asian. A curtain; esp. one used in some Muslim and Hindu communities to screen women from public observation and particularly from the sight of men or strangers. Now freq. in extended use.

(Rite of) Puja: Pūjā or Poojan is a prayer ritual performed by Hindus to host, honour and worship one or more deities, or to spiritually celebrate an event.[1][2] Sometimes spelt phonetically as pooja or poojah, it may honour or celebrate the presence of special guest(s), or their memories after they pass away. The word pūjā (Devanagari: पूजा) comes from Sanskrit, and means reverence, honour, homage, adoration, and worship.[3] Puja rituals are also held by Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.

In Hinduism, puja is done on a variety of occasions, frequency and settings. It may include daily puja done in the home, to occasional temple ceremonies and annual festivals, to few lifetime events such as birth of a baby or a wedding, or to begin a new venture.[4] The two main areas where puja is performed are in the home and at temples to mark certain stages of life, events or some festivals such as Durga Puja and Lakshmi Puja.[5] Puja is not mandatory; it may be a routine daily affair for some Hindus, periodic ritual for some, and infrequent for other Hindus. In some temples, various pujas may be performed daily at various times of the day; in other temples, it may be occasional.[6][7]

ragi: Finger millet ( Eleusine coracana) as grown as a food crop in India, where it is typically ground into flour and eaten as bread or as a kind of paste.

ravelin: (MF) fortification. A detached outwork, constructed beyond the main ditch and in front of the curtain, and consisting of two faces forming a salient angle. Cf. redan n. 1a. Now hist.

rowlatt: The Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act, 1919 popularly known as the Rowlatt Act was a legislative act passed by the Imperial Legislative Council in Delhi on March 18, 1919, indefinitely extending the emergency measures of preventive indefinite detention, incarceration without trial and judicial review enacted in the Defence of India Act 1915 during the First World War.

sadhu: (SK) In India: a holy man, a sage.

sahib: (Urdu) A respectful title used by an Indian in addressing an Englishman or other European (= ‘Sir’); an Englishman, a European. Also affixed as a title (equivalent to ‘Mr.’) to the name or office of a European and to Indian and Bangladeshi titles and names.

 shatranj: Shatranj, is an old form of chess, which came to the Western world by the Persians and later Greeks, and ultimately from India via the Persian Empire. Modern chess gradually developed from this game.

shikara: (Hindi)  A long, swift boat used in Kashmir. Also attrib.

sisal: Used attrib. with sisal fibre, sisal grass, sisal hemp, to designate the prepared fibre of several species of Agave and Fourcroya, which is largely exported Yucatan for use in rope-making. Also sisal plant, the aloe or other plant from which the fibre is obtained.

tamasha: (Arabic, Urdu) an entertainment, show, display, public function.

valima: Walima (Arabic: وليمة‎ walīmah), or the marriage banquet, is the second of the two traditional parts of an Islamic wedding. The walima is performed after the nikah, (Arabic: نكاح‎) or marriage ceremony. The word walima is derived from awlam, meaning to gather or assemble. It designates a feast in Arabic . Walima is used as a symbol to show domestic happiness in the household post-marriage.[1] While walima is often used to describe a celebration of marriage, it is also held to celebrate the birth of a newborn and the purchase of a new home.

verruca: a wart.

zafaran: saffron.

zenana: (Hindi) In Islamic South Asia and Iran: that part of a dwelling-house in which the women of a family are secluded; a harem.


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