Washing your arse in the Thames

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)

11 thoughts on “Washing your arse in the Thames”

  1. 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.

    Whether correct or not this explanation is too cool 🙂

    1. unfortunately i have a feeling that it may not exactly be correct. though of course it doesn’t stop us from assuming and convincing people that this indeed is the origin of the idiom

  2. while it would’ve made for an even more awesome story if you did both crap and wash up later on at the Thames, which in turn would render you as not being one of those who actually washed their arse in the Thames, idiomatically speaking, its quite a lousy thing that foreign returned junta tend to be so chappar about the differences between here and there.

    As a pertinent aside, here’s something I had thrown up previously on my blag – http://aljaljira.blogspot.com/2006/08/first-world.html

    1. now i realize – 3 yrs after returning from england – that i should’ve just done it. crap on the banks of the thames and use its water to wash my arse

  3. The version we used to use when young was “Thames neeru kudi hogu” (go drink Thames water). Obviously, some poli hudugas have made it more colourful by modifying the usage, that’s all. I don’t think there is any deeper reason behind the phrase. But your interpretation (part Kannadiga – washes with water, part English – uses Thames water) makes perfect sense.

  4. Can find a long linkage to an old mallu saying “Naaya nadu kadalil chennalum nakkiye kudikkoo” which means that even if a dog is standing in the middle of the ocean, it will still continue to drink water only by licking. Similarly how much ever Peter our junta put, even if they live in England, they will still wash their arse and not just wipe it. Thames was used because it it is a logically better option than London, and has a better punch than “London tika tolko: (or watever).
    You can take an Indian out of India but not the India from an Indian.

    1. i’m not sure da. i think a large number of Peters have moved to wiping their arses. actually i think it’s the Petersons (people whose parents are peters, if you didn’t get it) who are this way.

      and strong agreer on the reason that Thames is used and not London.

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