What's your Proper?

There was a new guy at the office the other day. And the usual questions were being asked, "Where are from?", "Have you started looking for an apartment yet?" etc. Then somebody asked him "What's your proper?" The questions was answered without skipping a beat, and I didn't notice it till much later in the conversation. Clearly, within a group of ten people, everyone from different parts of the country (we had good representations from the North, South, West and East), everybody clearly understood the phrase,
"What's your proper?"
I did too. You see, it clearly refers to the place of your origin, and is very different from asking "Where are you from?" Of course, I may never ask someone that, especially in that way, but this kind of slang is common, isn't it. What really got me thinking was, how did the word "proper" get to mean such a thing? I mean, where's the connect, where's the relation, and how did this happen?
I was discussing this with my friends at dinner when an interesting theory came up. In India, everybody has such different backgrounds, in a city, its not that common to find someone who speaks your mothertongue. Where you are from, is very different from your origins, your "village" or your actual place, where your grandparents are from. Its an important part of your identity. So people ask, where are you from, and then, "Where are you from, proper." As in, really, actually, properly. So it means, "Where are you from, actually" - This has slowly decayed into "What's your proper." Well thats an exhausting explanation, but there doesnt seem to be any other, unless my readers can come up with something more plausible?

There was a new guy at the office the other day. And the usual questions were being asked, "Where are you from?", "Have you started looking for an apartment yet?" etc. Then somebody asked him "What's your Proper?" The question was answered without skipping a beat, and I didn't notice it till much later in the conversation. Clearly, within a group of ten people, everyone from different parts of the country (we had good representation from the North, South, West and East), everybody clearly understood the phrase:

"What's your Proper?"

I did too. You see, it clearly refers to the place of your origin, and is very different from asking "Where are you from?" Of course, I may never ask someone that, especially in that way, but this kind of slang is common, isn't it. What really got me thinking was, how did the word "proper" get to mean such a thing? I mean, where's the connect, where's the relation, and how did this happen?

I was discussing this with my friends at dinner when an interesting theory came up. In India, everybody has such different backgrounds. In a big city its uncommon to find someone who speaks your mother tongue. Where you are from, is very different from your origin, your "village" or your actual place, or in other words, where your grandparents are actually from. It's an important part of your identity. So people ask, where are you from, and then, "Where are you from, proper." As in, really, actually, properly. So it means, "Where are you from, actually" - This has slowly decayed into "What's your Proper."

Well thats an exhausting explanation, but there doesn't seem to be any other, unless my readers can come up with something more plausible?

Aditi KulkarniComment