A popular idiom in Kannada is “Thamesnalli tika toLko” which translates to “wash your arse in the Thames”. This phrase, in its various forms, is used to refer to people who try to act westernized. People who are sometimes called “pseud” as short form for “pseudo american” in certain dialects. I think even the word “peter” (in the non-quizzing sense) can be considered to be a synonym of this phrase.
My biggest crib with this idiom is that it’s technically incorrect. Basically, no one washes their arse in the Thames. In fact, in areas around the Thames, people don’t wash their arse at all, except maybe during bath. Extending this argument, one of the traits which enables you to be described as “thamesnalli tika toLko” is using toilet paper – which implies that you don’t wash your arse, thus turning the description into a contradiction in itself.
I wonder how this phrase originated. I think it is clear to assume that the phrase was invented by people who usually wash their arses after crapping, rather than wiping it. Could it be because these people assumes that, like them, everyone washes their arse? Or is the kind of water that one uses to wash one’s arse an indicator of one’s “type”, “jaati“, “category”, “level” and all that? In that case why doesn’t one come across an idiom such as “washing your arse with Bisleri” or some such thing?
The other explanation I have is that this is indeed an extremely sophisticated idiom. The argument is that real Westerners don’t wash their arses at all. The idiom refers to people who are actually Indian (Kannadiga to be precise) but who try to act as if they are firang. So even if they go to London, and speak only English and all that – that they are actually desi implies that they wash their arses and not wipe it. So the only people who would have actually washed their arses with Thames water will be these types.
Of course, if this theory is true, it is not valid any more, for usage of toilet paper in India has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years. And you have a number of people who are otherwise extremely Indian who only wipe their arses, not wash them.
What do you think of this idiom? Why do you think this originated? Is it still valid? If not, what would you suggest as an alternative? Or we to discourage idioms such as these? Please share your thoughts.
(Disclosure: I have indeed washed my arse in the Thames. Not directly of course (I mean I’ve never squatted and relieved myself on the banks of the river), but I’ve washed my arse with water which I believe originated the river. Don’t ask me how I managed this in England where most loos don’t have a source of water in the loos. And I don’t think I figuratively qualify to have washed my arse in the Thames)