Proverb – Indian

Proverb – India

“A proverb my father often uses is ‘4 Annas spent on chicken, but 12 Annas spent on masala’ which is like an Indian version of ‘pennywise but pound foolish’. An Anna is a very small unit of Indian currency. Do you get the logic? Let me give you an example. I have a phone, It is really old and now worth nothing but I still want to use it so I buy a new battery for it which costs more than what the phone is worth now and so I ask my dad for cash to buy the battery and he will say that Hindi proverb which means I’m being pennywise but pound foolish, because you’re spending so much on something that’s worth less, ok?  Basically the proverb itself is talking about making a chicken dish why would you spend more on the masala when the chicken costs so little?  ”

He learnt it from his father at a very young age but Manoj scoffed when I asked him if he uses this proverb, “It’s something I’d expect elders to say, I think it is apt but a bit lame.” However, he has heard some of his peers use it, so it is probably a personal preference. “I’d just rather say pennywise but pound foolish,” was his explanation. When questioned about why this was he was a bit reluctant to explain. He feels that it is too close to his Indian heritage and many people would not understand the meaning of it, thereby making it less potent and somewhat embarrassing.

However, he feels, as do I, that the proverb in its Hindi form is also effective to a certain degree. The fact that it uses Indian references would make it more effective in his home country. Although, India was once an English colony, very few people in the rural areas would know what a penny or pound is.

I personally have seen another of my Indian friends use it in another context. He often uses the proverb to describe a person that is very stingy when it comes to small but essential things, like food or clothes, but spends lavishly on less vital tools such as cars and computers. I don’t use this proverb since there is a distinction between Indian and Sri Lankan culture, and many would not be able to relate to it. I’d not even use the English variation purely because I don’t choose to use proverbs in my speech.