1). Revert

Everywhere Else: Mirriam-Webster tells us that it means “to come or go back (as to a former condition, period, or subject)”. As in, “Benjamin Button reverted to a childlike state over a protracted and tedious film.”


In India: We seem to have stuck to just the part outside the brackets, the “to come or go back” bit. As in, “I will revert back to you in a minute.” Tell us, O wise ‘I’. Were you once I and now you and will go back to being I in a minute? That’s deep, Mr. Call Centre Operative!

2). Auto

Everywhere Else: It is followed by another word, to signify that the action or the state of being described by that word happens spontaneously. And, so, you have the Autobots, automatic, and the Autobahns that were built from the tears of Jewish prisoners (so spontaneous!).



In India: What’s yellow, and black, and looks like it’ll come apart any moment? If you’re thinking Bumblebee, you still haven’t gotten into the spirit of this game yet. If you’re Indian, Auto makes you think of rattling death traps on three wheels that aren’t moving anywhere unless you feed exorbitant amounts of money to his owner.

3). Doing the needful

Everywhere Else: It does not exist. We assume that, everywhere else in the world, people just prefer to spell out exactly what needs to be done.



In India: It exists for everything. Do you need a few printouts of something? Shoot off an email to the temp telling them to “Please, Do the needful”. Want someone to schedule a meeting? “Do the needful.” Want mice, a pumpkin, and a fairy godmother to turn them into a beautiful horse-drawn carriage? That’s right. You’re getting the hang of it now.

4). Change

Everywhere Else: It signifies something transforming from one thing to another. You’ll find the word in a whole lot of quotable quotes, some even spouting from Indian mouths. Such as, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”, “Progress is impossible without change.”, and “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” (Let us know the origins of these quotes in the comments for… the satisfaction of knowledge itself. What? You need goodie bags?)

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In India: It means the change that makes the world go round, albeit in rather small ways. If an Indian comes up to you and asks for ‘change’, please don’t go imagining that they’re enquiring something philosophical or metaphysical. They are only in the rather plebian pursuit of smaller denominations of money.

5). Picture

Everywhere Else: A picture is a visual representation, which, an alien might say, quantitatively contains more data than a thousand units of word. A picture could be a photograph, or a painting or a cartoon or a logo, and so on and so forth.

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In India: It’s a Pichar. It means the movies. As in, “Want to go see pichar?!”, “First show, second show?”, “Mast pichar thi, yaar!”, and so on and so forth.

6). Convent educated

Everywhere Else: Again, like “do the needful”, this is a conjunction of words that finds no meaning anywhere else in the world. If strained do to so, the average English thinking mind might put to the phrase the meaning, “someone who was training to be a nun in a convent”, which is a meaning that arouses more questions than it provides answers.


In India: Being “convent educated” is no small thing to an Indian. The thought process goeth thusly. The British had set up schools run by nuns. Nuns lived in convents. So, these are convent schools. These schools offer great education, and those who, ahem, pass out (another phrase that takes on a nifty alternative meaning in India), generally speak English very well. These are desirable traits. Ergo, these people are conferred the prestige of having been “convent educated”.

7). Only

Everywhere Else: It means anything that exists in a singular situation. The rose on The Little Prince’s Asteroid 325, for example, is its only rose. It could also take on the meaning of “but”, or “however”. For instance, “The little prince had thought that his rose was the only rose. Only, here on Earth, he was faced with a garden full on them.”.



In India: Only takes on a very special receptacle of emphasis. You might hear, for instance, “I am like this only.” That only (to use the word conventionally) means, “I am like thisssss.” Still didn’t get it? Think of the French phrase, “Je suis comme ça”. The only (again, another conventional use) way to put it into words would be “an exaggerated state of is-ness”.

8). Myself

Everywhere Else: It means a hundred different ways of referring to oneself that this writer is too lazy to list. Rest assured the all follow the proper Subject-Verb-Object syntax that you expect from the average sentence in the English language. Think, “I really like myself.”, or, “I myself like myself.”, or, “The missus and myself really like myself.


In India: The first time an Indian introduces themselves to you as “Myself Subramaniam Swamy Aiyyar”, you might be excused for having thought that the “Myself” and the “Subramaniam Swamy Aiyyar” refer to two different individuals. Actually, you might not, because you’ve read this article, and you know better.