Shopping in Karachi: Learning the Lingo

Since one of my main goals for this vacation was to shop, we went shopping within the first 24 hours of us being in Karachi. I was strictly told not to talk alot because “they” (the store owners) would know that I’m a “foreigner” and hike up their prices. My Urdu is pretty fluent but I guess I use English more frequently than I realize – so my Urdu is a combination of Urdu and English. Above all, I was told that my English was too English – meaning that my accent, when speaking in English, made it obvious that I wasn’t from Pakistan. For example, I say purple not “puh-pill” or “purrrrrr-pel”.

The first day was interesting – I had to get my ideas across while making sure that I wasn’t using English words. It’s honestly harder than I realized – I now know how often I use words such as like, thin kaam, and elegant… even when speaking in Urdu.

I learned LOTS of new terms in Karachi… so I thought I’d share! Some of them are really funny…

MaRgenta: nobody says Magenta. In Pakistan, the colour is MARGENTA not Magenta. My Khala (aunt) said that people probably thought I was paindu (a fob), pronouncing Margenta the wrong way.
Brawn: Your pronunciation of the colour brown is similar to the way you pronounce crown, right? Not in Pakistan. It’s BRAWN – similar to DAWN.
Fawn Colours: If you’ve been to Pakistan, you know that light colours (think baby pink/blue and mint green)  are sometimes known as “English colours.” Not anymore. Light colours are now known as “FAWN” colours. The first time I heard FAWN colour in Karachi, it was in reference to a beige-ish colour. This made sense to me. The second time I heard it, it was in reference to all light colours.
Chan: The little “sitaray” on dupatta’s and/or shirts is called CHAN.
Bunch: Kaam in any shape is referred to as BUNCH. For example, if you have diamond-shaped kaam on your shirt, the shop-owner will say he will put similar bunch on your dupatta.
Stuffs: Instead of saying material, people use the term “stuffs” alot. Yeah, not stuff – stuffs. When placing the order for my wedding outfit, I asked the guy what material they’ll be using for each piece. He responded by saying, “fikar nahi karein, sub achay quality ke stuffs use howein hai” (Don’t worry, all the material used in this outfit are of good quality).

A non-shopping related word I learned is “direct” – this means diarrhea. Haha

I can proudly say that by my last day in Karachi, my Urdu was pretty good!


About Shaza's Scrapbook

My name is Shaza and I'm a twenty something year old who's passionate about FOOD and Weddings! View all posts by Shaza's Scrapbook

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