"Who is Lallan Singh? He is Nitish Kumar's saala. Everyone knows this. I say this openly. This is why Nitish Kumar holds Lallan Singh's hand all the time whether they are in a meeting or a rally"
Which brings us to Hindi's most popular gaali—saala. Although I've always known what saala literally means (wife's brother and not, as it's often translated, brother-in-law) I never really did explicitly connect it to the expletive. That was until I read (the brilliant) Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh where he translates the word as 'I would like to fuck your sister'. It was then that the beauty of my mother tongue(s) dawned on me in their full glory. I mean, which other language would convert the name of a family relationship into a vile verbal abuse used casually in normal conversation (the book also mentions sasur as a gaali but I've never actually heard anyone use it as such).
Of course, most people hardly give a though to what saala actually means, using it as a sort of catch-all gaali. Incredibly, most would consider saala to be less offensive than, say, chutiya, which is absurd. I mean, god damn it we're all chutiyas—almost. How it is a term of ridicule is beyond me. What next? Two legged guy?
However, this precise meaning of saala makes some uses of the word rather absurd. For example, when women use it. What does it mean when a girl uses saala? Or the much used saali, for that matter? They're completely meaningless.
Of course, it is a bit unfair for the ladies. Most expletives, Indian or firangi, are extremely gender biased. Dissing female members of the family is the way to go. I mean, guys would call another guy a 'son of a bitch'—that's four syllables—but not call him a dog. Go figure.