As I had expected, there were several responses to my wondering whether there was a Tamil equivalent to jugaad (Miscellany, December 26, 2011) and as I had also expected there were a whole heap of varying suggestions.
But I have picked just a couple to offer readers because the writers seem a bit surprised — if not irked — by my lack of knowledge of the subject. And since both of them are quite emphatic in what they say, I offer readers their letters in almost their entirety.
C.G. Rishikesh writes, “I think you must be surrounded by a whole lot of clear-headed individuals, else you would not be still searching for the Tamil equivalent of ‘muddle through'.”
“How can the Semmozhi that Tamil is be without a word to convey the meaning that the English phrase ‘muddle through' does?”
“The word is sodhappu.”
“When we say that someone indulges in this action of sodhappudhal , we mean that one is not only confused oneself but also confuses one's listeners or readers. Sodhappudhal may be not only by words but deed as well; that is, one may by this action be taking part in an activity that is useless or unrewarding. One may sometimes succeed in one's endeavour, but the hint is that the success is not entirely because of one's capabilities and concerted action. One manages it, that's all!”
R. Seshadri writes: “I was a little surprised to read your column for two things. One regarding the usage of the Hindi word jugaad and the other about your comment concerning an India south of the Vindhyas. The word jugaad has become a part of the English language although it is yet to find its place in the COD.
The usage has been dated from 1995 as evidenced by the enclosed (quote) from a website. Also it has become a brand name apart from its multiple meanings. The nearest in Tamil should be samalikkum yukthi or jagathjhalam (a feat dazzling the world). The latter expression though used by Tamils is actually Sanskrit.
The member of the audience who gave jugam as the translation is not far wrong though it is incomplete and its etymology is Sanskrit. Also the reference to jugaad vehicles as an integral part of rural India is amazing indeed. (CF-website)
“Coming to the second part of your column, you seem to consider that an India south of the Vindhyas is impervious to Mark Tully's forays in Hindi and Sanskrit. This sort of writing is foreign to your genre and despite this sermon, Tully may continue to write.”
Seshadri's citation, offered below, could well interest readers;
Dictionary definition of jugaad
n . an improvised or jury-rigged solution; inventiveness, ingenuity, cleverness. Etymological note: Hindi.
Citations: 1995 Barun S. Mitra Asian Wall Street Journal (January 26) “India's ‘Informal' Car” p. 10: if one drives out of Delhi in any direction one is likely to encounter these hybrid vehicles within an hour. Known as “Jugaads,” which means roughly to provide or arrange, they have become a mainstay of rural transportation.
2002 Straits Times (Singapore) (September 29) “What's culture got to do with IT?”: New Delhi-based IT entrepreneur Karan Vir Singh, Managing Director of Voxtron Dezign Lab, called it the “jugaad” factor — the improvised quick fix.
“It's like putting two spoons of turmeric powder into your radiator if you spring a small leak,” he said. “It works, it will seal the leak. In Punjab, I have seen villagers buying an agricultural water pump at government subsidised rates, cannibalising some other parts from here and there, and turning it into a vehicle.”
2004 Sudip Talukdar Times of India (January 1) “Makeshift Miracles: The Indian Genius for Jugaad ”: The operative world of jugaad , implying alternatives, substitutes, improvisations and make-dos, is spurred by a native inventiveness steeped in a culture of scarcity and survival.
2004 John W. Fox Press & Sun Bulletin (Binghamton, N.Y.) (July 16) “Chopra master of the improbable”: Daniel Chopra, who learned his golf in India, “seems to have plenty of the typical Indian quality of jugaad ,” …. A reporter who had peeked translated it as “finding alternative ways of doing improbable things… creative improvisation.”
As for my remarks on Mark Tully being “foreign to my genre”, all I can say is that when speakers are “impervious” to their audience, particularly language-limited people like me, there's nothing “foreign” in pointing it out; it's just an expression of dissatisfaction of being left out of the presentation.