Humility and Humiliation: A Proverb

The Interviewer will be referred to as ‘I’, and the informant as ‘C’. Translations for Hindi words will be italicised and in parentheses, and the translation/transliteration for the proverb will be after the transcript. The Informant is a 43-year-old Sindhi man, born and raised in Maharashtra, India.

I: Could you tell me about a proverb that you feel like has a lot of significance for you and within your culture?

C: Sindhis really believe in this proverb, it’s something we use a lot, something I believe in, you can even see within me and my journey with my job. “Jainh khaado taro, tainh khey nako soor nako baro,” meaning, basically that if one eats the food from the bottom of the saucepan, he’ll not suffer from… pain or humiliation, so be humble, and proud of humble beginnings. Sindhis came to India during the partition from Pakistan, had nothing in their hands, didn’t even have proper homes, lived in tents. They worked on the street, small jobs, odd jobs, but worked hard. So, they believe in the idea that one who’s seen — one who’s seen life from the smallest point will never feel humiliated in any situation in life, will never feel small in those situations, will always rise up from those things. 

I: Is there any hypothetical situation that you would use this in. Say, someone comes to you, a niece or a sibling, how would you use this and in what circumstance?

C: You can use this in a situation where somebody feels that they have failed in life and have to work from ground-up again. So, this is a good way to tell the person, you know, don’t give up, there is still a lot to look up—forward—to. So, basically, you’re telling the person that, ‘Now that you’ve hit ground zero, once you work your way up from here, you’ll never face a situation that you can’t handle.’ One thing to remember is that Sindhi culture is all about never giving up and hard work, you will see us working very hard no matter what we’re doing, no matter what we’re selling, it’s about never giving up, we will always work hard and work our way up, it’s all about that. 

Original Script: جئن کادو تارو تائين کي نڪو سور نڪو بارو

Romanised: Jainh khaado taro, tainh khey nako soor nako baro.

Word for word: There would be no cloud-nine days without rock-bottom moments left below.

Translation: If one eats the food from the bottom of the saucepan, then they will not suffer from pain or humiliation.


As my informant stated, this is a proverb that is apparent and relevant to Sindhi culture and history and the way they are viewed in Indian society (as hard workers and businesspeople that are extremely diligent and dedicated to their craft/work), and also applicable outside of it, since advising hard work is something that is very common, both within the broader spectrum of Indian culture, and outside of it. This has a dual idea, of humble beginnings and hitting rock bottom (essentially the concept of ‘once you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way to go is upward’), but also of staying humble and aware of those humble beginnings, since they will strengthen one for the rest of their life. It points to the idea of suffering, of this rock bottom, as a way to grow and become more resilient, a common idea expressed all through the world when it comes to productivity, especially with the idea of working under capitalism.