Recently I wrote about what the hoardings said on a Sunday morning. Bill Peckham, in his CKD blogroll pointed out that hoarding was a new word. That led me to think about the many words that are used differently in the US and in India.
In the above context, I was referring to what people in the US refer to as billboards. I checked Wikipedia too and confirmed that my usage was not wrong!
Another common word that is used differently is gas. In India it means nothing but a gaseous form of anything. Hydrogen gas, a gas cylinder (another phrase for an LPG cylinder) and colloquially to ask someone not to lie. "Don't gas, ok!". In the US, however, I think it is used to indicate fuel that runs automobiles, short for gasoline, probably.
My friend Dinesh, narrated a hilarious incident about one such phrase during his initial days in the US when he had just settled down as a student. He decided to start cooking on his own, tired of eating out. So, he went to a store that sells vegetables. He happens to like bhindi and asked for "Ladies fingers".
The lady at the store was horrified! She thought she had run into a cannibal!
"Ladies Fingers?", she asked slowly moving her hands behind her.
"Yes", Dinesh replied, "can I have a kilogram of ladies fingers?"
The lady, by then, was quite alarmed. Fortunately, another Indian lady overhearing the conversation rushed to the lady's rescue.
"Okra! The guy wants Okra!"
It was then that both realized what had happened! The lady quickly packed a kilogram of the "ladies fingers" or Okra as she knew it.
Dinesh, who was quite amused realizing the gaffe, took the packet and left.