What’s in a Tambrahm name? – Part 2

In my earlier piece “What’s in a Tambrahm name?” I had talked about how Tambrahms have a unique way of compressing long names and coming up with typical aathula koopadara pergal like – Vengidi for Venkatachalam, Naanu for Narayanan and so on. If you had missed that article, please read here.

This kind of naming and calling is usually aathukulla or within the extended family. But there is another unique way of naming and calling outside of the family as well.  This is what I am trying to explore here.

In the 50s to 70’s, most Tambrahms from Palakkad boarded the Jayanti Janata express and headed towards Mumbai or Kerala Express to Delhi for some Joli.  And when they arrived, they came equipped not with Engineering degrees as it is today, but with skills like typing, stenography, Accounting and above all English proficiency.  So, invariably most of the Indian companies those days had Tambrahms as typists, Stenographers, Secretaries, Executive assistants and Accountants. In fact, the domination of Tambrahms in this domain was so much that, it provoked the then Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray to start a tirade against all mundu or as per him lungiwallah Madraasis!

It is usually said, “You are known by the company you keep!” In Tambrahm scheme of things, this is in fact literally true! That is, many times individuals are known and called by the company (organisation) they worked for. As we all know, in our previous generations, kids were always named after some UmaachiKrishnan, Ganapathy, Raman, Sivan and so on. Since this naming convention was extensively used, in the Tambrahm circle there was always a surfeit of Krishnans, Ganapathys and the like. So, one way to differentiate each of them was to prefix the name with the name of the company they worked for.

So a Krishnan working in Batliboi will be Batliboi Krishnan!

One may think that Cadbury Sivan is a Sivan who loved Cadbury chocolates or a Raymonds Dorai loved wearing Raymond suits. Athu thaan kidayaathu!  Sivan working in Cadbury became Cadbury Sivan and a Dorai employed in Raymonds was known by Raymonds Dorai!

And then you had Godrej Mani, Kirloskar Parameswaran, Indian Oil Gopalakrishnan, Voltas Hari, Burmah Shell Janardhanan, Glaxo Balan, LIC Rajan, Remington Murthy, Brooke Bond Raghu, Metal Box Suri, Tata Ravi, Birla Krishnamurthy, Times of India Natarajan, Britannia Chandru, State Bank Padmanabhan, IOC Radhakrishnan, L&T Ramaswamy, Saibol Venu, IOB Kannan and so on! Even in address books, names will be written as TVS Vasudevan, Simpson Rajagopal, Bajaj Venkatraman and so on.

In functions, if someone had to be introduced it will invariably be with the company name suffix. So in a kalyanam one mama (IPCL Raghavan) was introducing another mama. “Ivar thaan Colgate Subbaraman!” For which Subbaraman quipped – “Naan ippo pension aayaachu. Athanaala verum Subbaraman nnu sollungo!” For which IPCL Raghavan responded, “Retired aana enna. Engalukku neenga ennikume Colgate Subbaraman thaan!”

This prefixing by company name became so ubiquitous that many mamas while talking on the phone had to introduce themselves such without which nobody could recognise them. Something like this in this telephone conversation:

Mama 1: Hello…..

Mama 2: Hello… aaru pesarathu?

Mama 1: Naan thaan Krishnaswamy pesaren.

Mama 2: Krishnaswamya? Entha Krishnaswamy?

Mama 1: Adhaan, FIAT Krishnaswamy!

Mama 2: FIAT Krishnaswamya? Chollungo. Chollungo, Sowkiyama?

Most ushaar mamas will introduce themselves with the company name in the 1st place!

“Hello!

Naan Subbu!

 Enfield Subbu!”

In fact, I heard that Rajnikant’s dialogue of “Mala da, Anna Mala” in the film Annamalai was inspired by this Tambrahm naming scheme! The film’s Director Suresh Krishna is a Tambrahm brought up in Bombay, aache!

Solla pona, “My name is Bond. James Bond!” dialogue was exported by Tambrahms only😀

At times, the company connection to the name of the mamas extended to mamis also. As per that, I know of some mamis who were called as Saibol Sarojam and Kirloskar Kamala etc.

Apart from easy identification, there is one another periya advantage of linking the name with company. Antha company product ethavathu vaangum pothu, discount venumna correcta concerned mama va contact pannalaam! I recall one Godrej mama was everyone’s go to person for getting Godrej fridge and cupboard at whole sale prices!

While in Mumbai, most of the Tambrahms worked in private companies, in Delhi, it was mostly Central government departments. There was a time till 80’s when the entire Delhi bureaucracy was ruled by Tambrahms all the way up to the level of Secretary in ministries. Fortunately this naming convention was not adopted there, I think. Otherwise, we would have had Finance Ramachandran, Education Ramamurthy and so on!!! Health Balachandran and Agriculture Raman… would have been hilarious! But in Delhi, Tambrahms working in Public Sector Undertakings were promptly called by the company they worked for. SAIL Krishnamurthy is well known!

In Delhi, many mamas were also working with Newspapers . Hindu la work pannindu iruntha Vaithi  used to be known as Hindu Vaithi. When he got married and soon put on some weight, Hindu Vaithi soon became Gundu Vaithi 😀

I may be wrong here but, I didn’t notice this naming convention being adopted by other communities like Maharashtrians or Telugu. I have never come across a Bombay Dyeing Milind or a BARC Yashwant or for that matter a CEAT Balakrishna!

This tradition of prefixing with company names died a natural death post 90’s. Blame it on liberalisation and reforms for this also! Unlike that generation, sticking to one company throughout their career became passe for the post 90’s generation and this naming convention also died.  However, I am just wondering if the same had continued now also, some of the names will make us roll in the floor and laugh!

Makemytrip Rohit

Amazon Ashwin

Future Shashank

Ola Vinod

And so on!

Postscript: The spark for this piece germinated from a conversation I had with my friend Prognosys Sudharshan – so duly thanking him here.

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My Close encounters with Mamas – Part 2

Some time back, I wrote a piece on different types of Tambrahm Mamas we encounter in our lives. This piece is in continuation of the same. To get the right context, I suggest you to read Part 1 (link here) in case you haven’t before. Even if you have read that before, please read now to get a recap!

So, in continuation to the mama types described in that piece, here are some more!

Detail oriented Mamas: I would say most Tambrahm mamas fall in this category. In general, as a tribe we like to give a lot of details even when it is not called for. For example:

Person 1: Enna Saar, Walking innikku evalavu rounds?

Anybody else would just probably give an answer like – “10 rounds” or “5 rounds Saar” and end the matter. But a Tambrahm mama would most probably answer like this:

Mama: Intha Garden la, outside circle is 1 Km and I usually do 5 rounds of that. Inside circle is 500m. And I do 10 rounds of that. So if you go by outside circle it is 5+5= 10 rounds. And if you go by inside circle, it is 10+10 =20 rounds!! Purinjutha kanakku?

Person 1 (Mind voice): Summa oru pechukku ketta, maths classe edukaraare, intha mama?

Dimension Mamas: There are mamas who simply like to talk based on dimensions. Sample this:

A mama is going to see a house for renting along with a broker.

Mama: Veedu enna area?

Broker: 900 Sq ft Saar

Mama: Carpet area va, Built up pa?

Broker: Built up Saar

Mama: Built up a, Super built up a?  Carpet area evalavu –600 aavathu irukuma?

Broker: Athu theriyaathu Saar, owner kitta thaan kekkanum

Mama: Bed room enna size? 10*12 aa?

Broker: Exacta theriyala Saar.

Mama: 10*12 thaan. Paathale theriyarathe!

Broker: Mind voice (Theriyuthu la, appo yen saar kekkareenga?)

Mama: Ceiling evalavu height irukkum? 8 ft aa?

Broker: Irukkum Saar oru 8 feet. Next time naan oru tape oda varren Saar!

Mama:  Water supply eppadi?

Broker: 24 hours Saar!

Mama: Bore Well thanniya illa, Drinking watera?

Broker: Rendum varum Saar! Correcta Owner kitta thaan kekkanum.

Mama: Currentu?

Broker: Athuvum 24 hours Saar.

Mama: 24 Hours sari, single phase supplya illa double phasea??

Broker: Saar enna aala vidunga. Naan ownera vara solren. Avar kittaye neenga pesikunga!

Mama: Broker na ithellam therinju vechukka vendaama? Product oda ella detailsum tipsla irukkanum pa! Naan antha kaalathula Kirloskar company la generator marketing departmentla steno va irunthen. Generatoroda specifications ellam enakku innaikkum athuppadi theriyumo?

Cynical/Suspicious Mamas: These mamas are 24*7 paranoid about something or other.  They smell conspiracy theory in anything and everything out of obsessive suspicion and mistrust. Like this:

EVM romba safe appadi ippadi nnu solraale, appo yen intha Japan, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Germany la ellam EVM mma discontinue panni ippo paper ballots thaan use panraalaame?

Or

Aammaam, nethikku intha Afghanistan kooda thokka vendiya match la kadasila India Jeyichuthe? Match fixing aa irukumo? Enna anaalum, Afghanistan payalgalukku IPL contract venume?

Time oriented Mamas: These mamas are always particular about time in whatever they do.  When they speak, it is usually like this:

Naan 7.25 kku dinnera mudichuduven. Apparam oru 5 mins rest eduppen. Apparam oru 25 mins garden la nadanthuttu varuven. 8.00 lenthu 10 varaikum serial! 10.05 kku taannu thoongiduven…  I maintain my daily routine perfectly.

Or

Naan every day – 12 mins walking poven. 15 mins pranaayam pannuven….

 WhatsApp Mama: For this mama, WhatsApp is everything.  Mostly retired, his most part of the day goes in checking messages and forwards in WhatsApp! His worldview and opinions are formed based on what is seen on WhatsApp that morning!

Ungalukku theriyumo theriyaatho, Taj Mahal iruntha edathula oru sivan kovil irunthuthaam. Innikku WhatsApp la vanthurukku. Pinnu pinnu nu pinni eduthirukkaan!

Or

Intha kaalathula video conferencing patthi perisaa pesindu irukka! Mahabharatam time leye, video conferencing irunthurukku! WhatsApp la proof oda potturukkaan. Naan forward panren. Paarungo!

Nit picking/Fault finding Mamas: These mamas get some kind of pleasure in finding fault with everything around them. It could be in their own house, apartment complex, town, city, country and so on.

Swachh Bharat ellam photovoda sari! Road ellam kuppaiya thaan irukku!

Uppuma nkarathugaaga ivalavu uppu poduvaalo?

Enna violinist “Thodiya” ippadi thottum thodaamalum vaasikaraar?

Attention seeking/Jovial mamas: These mamas are usually the centre of attraction in any gathering. They usually regale people around them with stories, jokes and quotable quotes.  Something like this:

Antha kaalathula ellam boys graduate a iruntha porum- IIM assuredu – “Indian Institute of Marriage” a sonnen! Ippo ellam namma community la pasanga jaasthi. Girls kammi. Athanaala paiyan IIT  aana kooda – IIM la admission kashtam! Enna naan cholrathu?

Naan china vayasula violin kathunden. Ippo nalla use aagarathu. Ippo wifeukku aathula second fiddle vaasichundu irukken!

Do you know what the definition of a good diplomat is? – One who has learnt to remain silent in six languages!!!

And so on!

There could be more. Please do add to the list in the comments section with anecdotes of the mama type!

Enna Vishesham?

In the hallowed lexicon of Tambrahms, the word “Vishesham” romba visheshamaakkum. Means very special.  It has very different meanings and interpretations depending on the context it is used. In English, they call this as “homographs”. As Tambrahms, we know and understand Homams better!  Intha homograph, homonymns ellam thalaikku mele pora samaachaarangal aakkum!

Coming back to the point of “Vishesham”, at the basic level, Vishesham means “special”? So if you see something special/different in a place and don’t know the reason, it is normal for one to ask:

Mama 1: Enna mama, innikku enna payasam ellam. Aathula enna vishesham?

Mama 2: Onnum illai! Ennoda payyanoda star birthday. Athu thaan vishesham innikku.

But beyond the basic level, it acquires different meanings depending upon the context and situation. For example:

Mama 1: Enna mama, paathu romba naal aachu. Aathula visheshama onnum illiye?

Mama 2: Enna vishesham? Paiyan Americavila thaan settle aavennu otha kalula nikkaraan. Vendaamda. Intha Trump naraya problems undaakindu irukkaannu chonna, aaru kekkara? Ippo Indiavila illaatha opportunitiesaa?

This is when you meet someone after a long while and get into basic enquiries about the family and checking in on them. Going further:

Mama 1: Apparam vera enna vishesham?

Mama 2: Ponnoda Jaathakam eduthaachu. Nalla varan ethaavathu iruntha chollungo.

Mama 1: Locala paakarela, Veliyoora? Localna konjam kashtam thaan swami. Athukku thaan ketten!

Here Vishesham means other happenings and news!

When a mama lands in Kerala and want to brush up his malayalam, he launches into something like this:

Mama 1: Enthondu vishesham?  (This is like – What’s happening? )

Mama 2: Yei! Ivadai Visheshamaaiyittu onnum illa!  (Nothing special here! )

At times, Vishesham is also used to refer festivals. Like this:

Mama 2: Ippo enge intha pakkam?

Mama 1: August maasathula thaan neraya vishesham unde. Rakshabandan lenthu aarambichu neraya leavu.

Going further, Vishesham gets more interesting.

Mama 1: Aathula mamikku visheshama onnum illiye? Paathu romba naalaachu.

Mama 2: Enna, intha pressure, sugar complaint thaan. Matha badi onnum problem illai!

Mama 1: Kaalukku onnum visheshama illiye?

Here Vishesham is used in the context of health and well-being! Aathula mami soukiyam thaane types!

Now in the 1st question, if you replace mami with daughter in law, then the word Vishesham takes a totally different meaning!  And intha vishesham is very popular and widely used.

Mami 1: Paiyannukku kalyanam aagi oru moonu varusham irukkuma? Maattu ponnukku visheshama onnum illiya?

Mami 2: Onnum illai. Intha kaalathu pasangal. Ennatha kekarathu? Ketta, “Give us time. We want to enjoy our space” nnu cholluva. Ellam kaala kaalathula nadantha thaane sari pattu varum! Pogaatha kovil illai. Pannaatha nerchai illai!

As most of you know this very well, in this context, Vishesham is about pregnancy of their wards. Which is a perennial stress point these days with Tambrahm parents!

We are still not done with exploring the various dimensions of this Vishesham. Continuing the conversation….

Mami 1: Onnum kavala padaatheengo. Engaathuleyum en payanukkum appadi thaan aachu. Apparam, Ambalapozha Krishnan kovilukku poyittu vanthom. Oru maasathukku paal payasam nerchai.  Oru varushatula kozhanthai poranthuduthu!  Ambalapozhai ithukku visheshamaakkum!

Mami 2: Ambalapuzhaiya? Ippo thaan kelvi padaren! Sari, Angeyum poyittu varrom!

Now, here Vishesham stands for “renowned” or “known for”!

Further…

Mami 1: Ithula enna visheshamna…. Naangal nerchai mudicha pathaavathu maasathula kozhanthai taannu poranthuduthu! Balakrishnannu pera vechuttom!

Here, Vishesham takes the meaning of “Interesting”!

So, as I mentioned in the beginning, the word Vishesham romba Visheshamaakkum!

Like this, I am not sure if there is any other Visheshamaana word in Tambrahm dictionary.  Konjam visheshama think panni, chollungo.  Athayum konjam visheshama research panni blog ezhuthiyudalaam!

America poyirunthappo….!

These days on a flight from any of the South Indian city to the US, you cannot miss the ubiquitous Tambrahm mamas and mamis on their way to their sons’/daughters abodes in the US. For some it could be the 1st trip to the US. For others, it could be the 2nd /3rd /nth visit!

Usually I have noticed that Tambrahms follow a hate-love-hate cycle with the US. Let me explain. Before they usually get a chance to visit the States (their kids must be still in school/ or in Engineering), their general attitude towards United States is coated in hate and distrust of the US and goes something like this:

“Aaru Americakku ellaam povaa? It’s a capitalist country and everything is about money there. Oru culture undaa? Or Kaarthigai undaa? Namma manusha ellaam America, America nnu odindu irukka! Anga enna thaan irukko appadi!

Inga namma manusha kooda irunthundu kovil, kolam, bajanai, Sasthapreeti, Saapaadu nnu irukara maadiri irukumaa anga? 

Ethaavathu onnu kidakka aayiduthunna inga thane vanthu aaganum?

Aaru 16 mani neram flightla okkanthundu porathu? Enakku inga 2 manikooru flightla pogarathukulla praanam poyidarathu!”

And so on!

Then in a few years, invariably their son/daughter who finished Engineering manage to get MS admission and then in a few years also get a job in the US. Marriage follows. And the mama/mami get a chance to visit the US. During their stay their hate turns into love for America! On their return after few months of stay, when they meet their counterpart mamas and mamis in some kalyanam-kacheri, invariably they regale a lot about their US trip! Something like this:

“16 mani neram ponathe theriyalai! Paiyyan business class la ticket pottu kuduthuttaan! Sleeper berth la pora maadiri sugama irunthuthu!

The other mama who was not fortunate to travel in Biz class joins – “Naan economy la ponnen. Time ponathe theriyalai aana. Pazhaya tamil, malayala padamellam paathu mudichutten!”

And more:

“Evalo neatta irukku theriyumo? Park la walking porache porava ellam ethara bavyama Good Morning uncle/ Good Morning aunty nnu cholra theriyumo? Naanga rendu perume thaniya parkukku walking poyittu varuvom. Bayapadathukku onnum kidayathu! Inga, 6 mani aachunna thaaliya moodindu poga vendi irukku! Ippadi car varum, appadi motor cycle varum nnu paarukave vendaam. Namma baatukku theme nnu walking pannikalaam! 4 maasathila oru 10 kilo weight koranjuthu! Mama oru 6 kilo korachaar. Just walking panni!

Super markettukku pona, ellam kidaikkum.  Vegetables, Fruits ellam ethara fresha irukku theriyumo? Ellam organic vera! Marunthu Kirunthu adichiruppa nnu kavalaye pada vendaam!

Anga iruntha 4 maasathila, naan diabetes patthi kavalaye padalaiye! Mama kkum pressure ellam koranju fitness koodiduthu! Ippo inga vanthapuram rendu perukkum thiruppi thodangi yaachu irumalum, thummalum! Enna pollution inga!

Inga kadaikaratha vida namma items ellam ethara nalla quality theriyumo? Nilgiris nnu oru kadai irukku. Anga pona, kadaikatha namma saadanam kidaiyaathu!

Namma filter Kaapi maadiriye – Starbucks la pona – Café Mishto appadinnu kadaikarathu! Pinna enna venam?

Ivalavu varushama Palakkadla irukkom. Kacheri ellam TV la paathathoda seri! Anga Cleveland festivalla Sanjay Subramaniathilenthu Sanjay Narayan varaikum oru kacheri vidalai!

Ade maadiri Crazy Mohan drama paathuttu, back stage la poi avan kitta pesi, selfie ellam eduthundom! Neenga paathirupele! Mama FB la pottaare! Illane chollungo, Whatsup la anuparen!

A guy in the US usually would have visited the Niagara Falls a minimum of 4 times.

1st – when he goes with his friends for the 1st time as a bachelor!

2nd when he gets married and takes his wife who has joined from India!

3rd when his parents come to visit him usually during his wife’s 1st delivery (Athu ennamo theriyala, US la delivery na, paiyyannoda appa/amma normala US pova – to support the daughter in law during delivery!)

4th when his in laws come to visit – probably during his wife’s 2nd delivery!

So, the thing is usually the visit of the parents to the US in the first few times coincide with the “Delivery” cycles of the sons/daughters.

After this 2/3 visits to the US, for the mama/mami – the love for the US slowly starts morphing into hate again!

“Naanga paiyyan kitta cleara cholliyaachu. Inime ellam anga vanthu 3 maasam, 4 maasam nnu vanthu irukka mudiyaathu engalaala. Neenga venna engala paaka inga varushathukku oru vaatti vanthu poyindu irungo.

16 mani naram flightla aaru okkandundu porathu! Kai kaal ellam kodaiya aaramchudarathu! Appo appo toilettukkum poga vendi irukku! Thirumbi vanthapparam oru vaarathukku thookame varathu illa.

Anga engalakuu time pass aagarathu illai. Paiyyanum Maatu ponnum velaikku poyidara. Peran/Pethi schoolnnu avaa busy. Sani/Nyayar vanthaachunna paatu class, dance class, Costco shopping nnu busya avaalukku poyidarathu! Namakku time passe aaga maatengarathu! Ethara neram thaan intha TV kku minnadi okkaanthundu irukarathu? Inga yaana aaravathu manusha vanthundum poyindum iruppa.

Anga poi namma paduthundutomna avaalukku thaan problem.

Enna aanaalum namma naadu maadiri varaathu! Intha Trump etho kirukkan maadiri vela pannindu irukkaan.

Visa vera expire aayiduthu. Siva Siva nnu irukka vendiya kaalathula, aaru Visa Visa pinnala pogarathu?

Naanum paiyyan kitta chollitten. Inga vanthu ethavathu Wipro leyo, TCS leyo velaya paathundu vanthudunnu! Of course we don’t want to compel them. It is their decision!”

So the hate-love-hate cycle continues. Neenga intha cycle la enga irukkel?

Enga Ponaalum Idli, Dosai!

First a disclaimer. This post may not resonate so well with the current generation or those who were born and brought up in the Post liberalisation India (post 1991). But those in the pre-lib era can relate well to this. Or so I hope.

It is a known fact that for Tambrahms, food is an important ingredient of life. But that doesn’t mean that we as Tambrahms are fine and excited about all types of food. We are biased towards namma type chaapaadu for sure. Any day, we will prefer our Saambaar, Molagoottal, Idli, Dosai,.. over any other exotic regional or international menu. If one does a microscopic research of our DNA strands, mostly instead of X chromosomes and Y chromosomes, there will be I chromosomes or D Chromosomes and so on I think, where I stands for Idli and D for Dosai respectively!

At home, 7 days of the week, 52 weeks of the year or in short every day, we are fine with eating our type of food. For breakfast, evening tiffin and night palahaaram we are O.K. with having Idli and Dosai alternatively. What is important though, (as I outlined in one of my earlier posts –Thottukka Enna? ) is we are more concerned about what goes with it. As long as there is variety in thottukarathu, nambalukku double O.K.!

While this characteristic can be classified as normal (i.e. eating their own type food while at home) even for non Tambrahms, what is special for Tambrahms is that we prefer eating our type even when we go out!

Unlike these days where eating out is very common, those days when we were growing up, eating out was very rare! At Tambrahm households eating out was when the mami at home was veliyila that too when mama couldn’t cook for some reason (usually as we know, most Tambrahm mamas are adept at cooking and therefore walk the talk). Even here, mostly it is “one dozen idly or few dosais parcel” instead of eating in the restaurant!  Another opportunity to eat out was when we were on some temple visit like – Kumbakonam, Guruvayur and so on!  In those places anyway you wouldn’t get anything apart from Idli, Dosai and meals! If not for these opportunities, then it will be when we were travelling to our “native place” in Kerala during summer vacation or for some aathu visesham usually in trains! As the train reached Olavakot junction (these days Palakkad junction), it was time for morning coffee and breakfast which again will be usually Idli and probably Vadai. “Dosai chooda illaatti nenja pidikkum, Idliye adikalaam! would be the elder’s advice!  Some of the co-passengers can be seen buying Vellaappam which usually entices you as kids as well. “Yei,… antha vellaappathila Kallu (alcohol) pottaakkum ferment pannuva, Athellam vendaam. Nee intha Idli thinna porayaa illaya?” used to be the usual refrain!

These days of course the opportunities for eating out are far too many. Any day, any time we eat out! But even today, Tambrahms are very comfortable eating our type of food by and large!

When we go out to eat say during weekends, while this generation kids break their heads to order what they want, for us it just takes a few seconds. Because our order will invariably be – First oru plate Idli Sambar, pinnaala Rava Dosai (or some variant of the same) and then Filter coffee!

Even in marriages and functions where it is common to have a buffet with all varieties of food like Chinese, Chaat counter, Punjabi items and so on, in a Tambrahm visesham, most Tambrahms can be seen crowding the “Dosa counter” and later filling up the plate with Thayir saadam, pickle and mor molaga if available. You can often hear lines like “Namakku intha chaattum bootum ellam sari pattu varaathu. Namma intha dosaiya thingarom! Thayirum Chaadam, ooruga irukko illiyo? Athu porum!”

We all know that these days, mamas and mamis travel abroad frequently and widely. Even when in Bay area in the weekend it will be like – “Namma intha Tirupati Bheemas intha vaaram try pannalaam. Pona vaaram Saravana Bhavan try panniyache!” and for what – eating Idli, Dosai!

Even within India when we go on holidays say to North India, after one day of Naan, Roti, Aloo gobi,.. our stomachs start craving for South Indian food! “Inga pakathula engayavathu Uduppi restaurant ethavathu irukka paaru” will be the refrain, even if food is part of the package! And if that’s not to be found, the conversation on return will go like this:

You: “Enna Mama, Mussorie holiday ellam eppidi irunthathu?”

Mama: “It was o.k. Oru South Indian hotelum illai! 4 naalaiku eppadi intha Naan, roti, paneer chaaptundu kazhikarathu?”

And I know of those who take up foreign vacations only after confirming presence of Saravana Bhavan or Woodlands in the city on the internet!

Mama: “Namakku intha roti, masalaave othukaathu. Ithula Breadayum, cheesaiyum nambi eppidi holidaykku porathu. Malaysiakku poi thindaadinathu ennakku thaane theriyum!”

You: “Malaysia la thamizhaa naraya irukkaale? Namma food kadaikalaya?”

Mama: “Nee vere! Ore Non Veg. Thedi thedi oru Annalakshmi hotela kandu pidichappo thaan Aaswasam vanthuthu!”

If it’s a remote city in China or Japan,.. where Google Guru doesn’t help with a South Indian restaurant, you can be sure that a Tambrahm will equip himself or herself with packets of MTR Upma mix lenthu Puliyodarai mix and what not! Though, here I must add that this is a major compromise because while at home he will not touch a MTR readymade mix with a barge pole! As per our Nanu mama’s 6th law of cooking, “Vayithu samaachaarathula, rigidda irukapadathu. For every genuine chaapadu item, there is a close equivalent item in terms of taste!”

For Tambrahms who are tech friendly these days, even on Apps like Swiggy,.. the most searched food type will be “South Indian food” and most ordered will “Idli. Dosai,…”

For Tambrahm mothers, feeding their sons/daughters isn’t a big problem. Because “Avanukku oru Dosaiya nanna ennai ya vittu murugala vaathu kuduthuttaana, avan baatukku chapatuduvaan!”

 “Avana? – Avan Veetula Raman, Veliyile Krishnan” is a popular line used to explain the character of a man. But as far as eating habits are concerned, for Tambrahms it is always “Veetileyum Idli/Dosai, Veliyileyum Idli/Dosai!”

An Idli a Day!

30th March, we are told is being celebrated as “World Idli Day”! Meaning, for the world, 30th March is Idli Day! For South Indians in general and Tambrahms in particular though, every day is Idli Day you see! As Nanu mama said, “Ithellam marketing gimmick! Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day, Mother’s Day madiri! Namakku every day is Idli Day!” And he is probably right. “The” Idli is intertwined so much in the life and IDentity of a Tambrahm!

 A day in the life of a Tambrahm is not complete without a brush with Idli! Usually the day starts with Idli as the breakfast.  Not only that, apart from having Idli for breakfast, I know of households who have again slight variants of the Idli for evening along with Kaapi and then for dinner as palahaaaram.

“Idli steamed o illiyo with no much oil,… Athanaala romba safe!” is the usual refrain which we can hear from Tambrahms who pour scorn on North Indians having oily paranthas for breakfast. “Eppadi thaan kaalan kaarthala ippadi oily itemsaa thingaraalo?? Namakku Idli thaan sari. Vayathukku onnum pannaathu”!

While Idli itself is a plain simple item made of rice, what makes it special is, what it is consumed with.  Tambrahm mamas who usually fuss around too much about food and the lack of variety every day, are more charitable as far as Idli is concerned. As long as Idli is served with different items to go with.

At a basic level, the day when the mami is in no mood to entertain the mama and kids so much, Idli is made and will be eaten with the already made Molaga Podi mixed with nalla ennai aka Gingelli oil! And the nalla ennai is poured over the Idli as well to taste!

At a next level, Idli is taken with Chutney. Here the options are many, starting with white Coconut Chutney, Tomato/Onion Chutney, Green Chutney,..,…

On a particular day, if the mami decides to finish the cooking in the morning early, then one can have the baakiyam of having Idli for breakfast with Sambhar which can be then used for lunch as well with rice!  Idli with Chutney “and” Sambhar is usually the combination for Naallum, Kizhamaiyum!

At many Tambrahm households I know of, Sundays are usually Idli with Chinna vengaaya Sambhar.  I have heard that mamas feel like going to sorgam and coming back when they get an opportunity to eat hot Idlis with hot Chinna vengaaya Sambhar served with dollops of ghee.

Now, here’s the thing as a matter of critical detail. If you eat the Idli dipped in Sambhar served separately in a kinnam, it is Idli Sambhar. But, if you take a bowl of Sambhar and soak the Idli in it and eat, it becomes Sambhar Idli!  Usually left over Idlis of the morning along with left over Sambhar of afternoon – becomes tasty Sambhar Idlis for evening tiffin!

When you see somebody pouring Sambhar over Idli, one gets a doubt if Idlikku thottukka Sambhar aa illa Sambharukku thotukka Idliyaannu!!  And one cannot miss sharp mamas’ quips like, “Paiyyan sambharla paatthiya kattaratha paatha, engineera thaan varuvaannu thonrathu!”

Before the IRCTC era, train journeys or road trips (read as temple visits) were never complete with Idlis being part and parcel of the trips literally, I mean. A separate koodai accompanied these trips with eco-friendly disposable packets of Idlis. And here’s the twist. To save time and the mess of eating Idlis with Chutneys or Sambhar (which may get spoiled in the heat) while on travel, Idlis are usually packed with Molaga podi and ennai already applied on them. So white Idlis become slightly Orangish in colour with liberal dose of nalla ennai. “Konjam ennaiya dhaaralama vittukko, nenja pidikkaama irukanum!” This Idli with pre-mixed Molaga podi becomes “Podi Idli”! Have you ever tried having a sip of hot, filter coffee right after eating this Podi Idli, with the taste of Idli mixed with the Molaga podi still lingering on the tongue?? If not, please try that tomorrow!

“Idli, malli poo madiri irukku!” can be the ultimate compliment which is when the Idli is soft, pure white in colour and has a nice aroma around it!” However ask any mami and she would say, “Aamaam, kudikarathu ennamo Aquaguard thanni. Aana Idli mattum  malli poo madiri irukanum!!!”

Coming to Tambrahm obsession with the Idli, though we eat Idlis probably 365 days of an year at home, when we go out to eat at restaurants,…, the 1st choice of most mamas is most likely to be “Oru plate Idli Sambhar”!

In Tambrahm households, it is also common for parents to serve Idlis with Thayir and Chakkarai mixed for kids. “Thayir vayathukku nallathu. Eriyaama irukkum!” Our elders were abreast of all this probiotic stuff even then! But what usually starts as a childhood habit continues even after growing up.

Even Doctor mamas have a special affinity for Idlis. Usually, when we used to go to our neighbourhood family doctor for common ailments like fever, stomach upset,..,… the doctor usually advised, “Usual pre-cautions and “Idli madiri safe food da saapadalaam”!

In order to cater to the daily intake of Idlis at home those days, mamis usually arachufied maavu every alternate day even during the pre-grinder days!  In grinder days, more than the effort involved in aruchufying, the effort in cleaning up the grinder after the act was more taxing! Ithukku okkaandhundu araikarathe thevala! But today for the young generation, ready-made, Off the shelf maavu has come as a god sent relief. Only thing is, with the ready-made maavu one cannot be cock sure of the output!  Leading to jibes like this:

Mami:  “Innikku enna aachunnu theriyala! Konjam Idli flataa vanthuduthu!”

Guest Mama: “Idli saaptu naanga flataa aagaama iruntha sari!”

So, with the Idli even small travesties are not tolerated, you see!

The other bigger travesty of the Idli, is the invention of different varieties of Idlis in the name of fast food! From Idli Manchurian to Chinese Idli to Masala Idli to Hara bara Idli, …,… have all mushroomed much to the dismay of the Idli connoisseurs! For them, Idli is only one. Which is simple, steamed and safe! So for them, it’s not “Idli Day” but at least “an Idli a day”!!!

Innikku aaru Kacheri?

Come Margazhi, it’s ‘Season’ time in Chennai. Typically Chennai is known to have 2 seasons namely summer and “Music” season! So when it is “Music Season” time, can Tambrahms be far away? Irrespective of where they are physically, during the “Season”, most Tambrahms will be in one sabha or other mentally! Given the very close connection between Carnatic sangeetham and Tambrahms, conversations of these kind in Tambrahm households during the season are not so uncommon:

Mama: Yei Sarada, Innikku aaru kacheri?
Mami: Papera neenga thaane kaalambara lenthu karachu kudichindu irunthel, paakalaya? Innikku Jaya TV la Sikkil Gurucharan, Vijay TV la O.S. Arun. (This is by the way mamipedia in action)
Mama: Oh, O.S. Arun aa? Bhajans nanna paadaraan, konjam seshta thaan jaasthi!
Mami: Paatta kaadhala thaane kekkarel?

Mama: Yei, Suresh, Innikku aaru Kacheri? Music Academy la 6 manikku?
Suresh: Appa, naan thaan nethikke sonnene. Antha Kacheri Season App a download panni vechukongo. Thiruppi, thiruppi innikku aaru kacheri nnu athaye daily kettundu irukathengo!

Mami 1: Mami, nethikku Krishna Gana Sabha la Abhishek Raghuram kacheri ponnen, Ongala kaanalaye?
Mami 2: Abhishek Raghuram, naan naraya ketturukken. Pone vase, naanga US la 6 maasam irunthom illiya. Appo kooda Cleveland la Abhishek kacherikku ponom!
(Mamis have to insert an anecdote about their visit to US in every conversation)

Mama: Nethikku Academyla Mani Iyer, Sooper!
Mami: Entha Mani Iyera chollarel?
Mama: Naan Academy canteenla Mountbatten Mani Iyer a patthi chollaren! Nethikku Thavala Vada special! Soopera irunthuthu.
Mami: Etthana plate adichel? Erkanave Cholestrol jaasthi!

Daughter: Appa, Fine Arts la nethikku fushion kacheriya miss pannitel neenga!
Mama: Its o.k. I’m not a big fan of this fushion. Onakku thaan theriyume!
Daughter: Illa Appa, it was really nice. The way they mixed our Carnatic and Western. Too good.
Mama: Enna too good? Ippadi thaan oru fusion video WhatsApp la poyindu irunthuthu. Oru Nalla Nagumo keertanaiya pottu kola panni irunthaa!
Daughter: No Appa, that “Nagumo – Shape of you” fusion was awesome!
Mama: Awesome? Abheri ragatha pottu kola panni irunthaa! Athula nadula ooovaan ooovaan vera!
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Mama 1: Nethikku entha kacheri?
Mama 2: Parthasarathy Swamy sabha la – Sriram Parasuram.
Mama 1: Very Good. Very Good. Avan thaan B Tech, IIM MBA aache! Nanna Violin vaasippaan, Nanna paadavum seivaan!
Mama 1: Namma Sanjay Subramanyam also? CA Rank holder!
(While on this, even in Cricket, the most favourite cricketer of the Tambrahm mamas is Ashwin Ravichandran. Because he is a B Tech Engineer)

Mami 1: Innikku ennamo theriyala, Sudha Raghunathan konjam dull!
Mami 2: Aamaam, aamaam. Antha light blue kku light green border serave illa. Romba ve dulla irunthuthu!
Mami 1: Normalaa Sudha Raghunathan nalla pallicchunnu colour combination la thaan varuvaa. Innikku ennamo theriyala!
Mama: (To himself) Neenga Kacheri kekka ponellaa, illa pattu sari ya paakka ponellaa?

Mama: (While watching Vishaka Hari’s programme on Jaya TV) Ennamaa Paadara?
Mami: Porum, porum romba uruga vendaam! Konjam azhagaa iruntha porume?
Mama: (to himself) Antha Hari kuduthu vechavan!
Mami: Enna solrel? Etha solrathu aanaalum satthama chollungo!
Mama: Onnum,….. illa! Kacheriya konjam kekka vidu!

Mama 1: Season la namma T.M.Krishna paadarathu illiyaame?
Mama 2: T.M. Krishna nalla talented, aanaa ethaavathu ularinde irukkaan ippo ellaam!
Mama 1: Sabhava vittuttu bus, beach nnu paadindu irukaan! But he has a point. Carnatic music has to spread illiyaa?
Mama 2: Carnatic music ivalavu varushama spread aayindu thaane irukku. Neenga US la poi paarungo. Carnatic music kathukkaatha nammavaa pasanga illa.

————————————————————————————————————-

Mama 1: Nethikku veena kacheri etho ponaye, eppadi irunthuthu?
Mama 2: Avan veenaiya vaasichaan? Veenaa pochu!
Mama 1: Yen, sari illiya?
Mama 2: Ellaam Management quota la donation kuduthu vaangina kacheri nnu ninaikiren!
Mama 1: Evening kacheri la thani aavarthanam eppadi irunthuthu?
Mama 2: Hall la paavam thaniyaa vaasichindu irunthaa. Ellarum canteen pakkam escape!

Mama: Antha mufflera kudu!
Mami: Enga kaalangaarthala kelambittel?
Mama: Academyla Ravi Kiran oda lecture demonstration irukku. Poyittu varen.
Mami: Muffler ellam ethukku? Enna periya kuliru? Pona Varusham Denver la paakatha kuliraa?
Mama: Ippo kudukaraya? Udambukku vanthuduthu nna season miss aayidum.
Mami: Aathula Milagu kandamthippili rasatha kudichindu okkanthundu Jaya TV la paarungo!! Ennoda friends ellarum ippo appadi thaan panraa.

Mama: Innikku kacherila Sikkil Gurucharan RTP pinnittaan. Asaathyama irunthathu.
Nephew: Athenna mama RTP?
Mama: Raga Thanam Pallavi da. Ithu kooda theriyaamaya nee sangeetham kathukara?
Nephew: Enakku therinjathu violin saarukku panra RTGS mattum thaan!

Mama1: Lalgudi yoda daughter Viji yoda kacheri irukku innikku, varella? Ennoda pethiyoda guruvakkum aval.
Mama2: Ungaloda paiyan New Zealand na irukkaan? Appo eppadi inga Guru?
Mama1: Ellaam Skype leye thaan. 5 varushama ippadi thaan kathukara!
Mama2: Besh Besh. India la irukkara internet connectionukku ethu swaram, ethu abaswaram nnu differentiate panna mudiyaratho??

I can go on and on. Let me stop here. Yenna, kacherikku kalamba time aayiduthu.
Aamaam, innikku neenga aaru kacherikku porel?

Paper Vandhaacha?

In continuing with the series of phrases which irritate the hell out of Tambrahm mamis (after “Thottukka enna?” and “Innikku menu enna?”) here comes the next – “Paper vandhaacha?” For a Tambrahm mama, drinking filter kaapi in the morning and reading the day’s newspaper – in all likely hood “The Hindu” have to go in tandem. (For those who live outside of Tamil Nadu – the respective leading English Newspapers apply). So his first lookout as soon as he gets up in the morning is “Paper vandhaacha?” “Enna ketta???? Mani 5.30 thaane aagarathu! Itthara cheekiram paper eppadi varum?” – This is mami’s usual retort! Though mama knows very well that the paper usually comes around 6.30 AM only, he is restless to the core till it arrives. Eliciting this mami’s jibe – “Ethukku intha kutti potta poona madiri nadanthindu irukkel?” So finally when it indeed comes, mama dives deep into the newspaper while having his second cup of steaming Kaapi made from 2nd decoction!!

Even though as per every mama in the world, “English paper minna madiri illa, niraya spelling mistakes!”, a day in the life of a Tambrahm mama is never complete without reading the paper from top to bottom including the Obituary column. “Yei, inga paathayaa??? Namma Vaikom Vaidyanatha Iyer poi chenthuttaar!. Kuduthu vechavar. Romba paduthukaama, mathavaala kashta paduthaama kaalaa kaalathula poyittaar!” This is a Tambrahm mama’s way of saying RIP!!! Tambrahm mamas read newspaper “pareekshaikku padikkara madiri!” “Office la boss naattu nadapu patthi ketta answer cholliyaganume”! If Nehru was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, it can be safely said that all Tambrahm men are born with a newspaper bit in their mouths!!!

This Kaapi + Newspaper combination is an everyday fix for many a mama’s smooth functioning of their digestive system. So they believe that the Kaapi is a must for inducing the every morning belly cleansing. “Kaalan kaarthala intha kaapi vayathula ponna thaan ellame sariya varum!” And then for the next hour or so, the mama is gone with the newspaper in tow. With western style commodes, there is no dearth for convenience for newspaper reading in the toilet! Invariably in Tambrahm households there is always an extra toilet. When it was a single toilet situation, this habit of mamas spending too much time in toilets with newspaper was a matter of “Toilet Ek Pranana katha!!!” “Aachu, newspapera eduthundu ulla poi okanthachu intha brahmanan. Veetula mathavaa ellam pogave vendaamo”??? But all these fall in sevittu ears for a mama equipped with the newspaper in hand!

On Sundays, the paper reading extends to the supplements and the magazine section and goes on for hours sparking the mami’s usual taunt, “Appadi enna thaan intha paper la irukko?? Nethikku vera TV la news kotta kotta paathaachu! Paper vanthachuna suthu vattaarathula idi vizhuntha kooda theriyaathu intha manushanukku!” And on Sundays for most mamas, along with The Hindu, Indian Express also is a must!

For mamas, the toughest days in a year are those coming next to National holidays. Like Aug 16th, Jan 27th… where there is no paper in the morning. The usual question “Paper vandhaacha?” those days is met with a chirpy answer from the cheerful mamis. Mamis are the happiest those days.

Mami: “Innikku paper illai… saambarukku kashnam narukki thaango”!!!

And Mama is at his irritable best those mornings.

Mama: “Newspaper is like an essential commodity. Athukku eppadi leave ellam kudukalaam?? Useless fellows!! Parliamentla law kondu varanum!”

Mami: “Oru naalaikku newspaper padikalaina onnum agaporathu illai. Antha karigaiya narukki tharela?”

And there are mamas after doing one round of reading in the morning, do the 2nd revision reading in the night after returning from office. And if it’s a retired mama just like medicines, one round of paper after every meal apart from the one with coffee early in the morning.

Mami: “Kaalangaarthala paper padichathu poraatha??”

Mama: “Office pora avasarathula enga poora padikka mudiyarathu? Editorial column ellam innum padikalai!”

Mami: “Aamaam, athulenthu thaan naalaikku question kekka pora, pareekshaila!!”

Mami: “Unakku ithellam manaslaagaathu!”

And there are some expat/NRI/Tech savvy mamas who have switched from the quaint newspaper to an IPad or equivalent. But everything else as above are still applicable including the toilet escapades with the IPad in the morning.

For the google generation though, paper reading is not such a sanctimonious thing. But even then, mamas don’t leave them.

Mama: “Newspaper padikkanum. Appo thaan upto date-a irukka mudiyum!”

Ambi: “Ennappa! Adhaan mukkiyamaana news ellam WhatsApp leye vanthudarathe! Illa Twitter la pathukalaam”

Mama: “Yei,…. WhatsApp la newsoda naraya kuppaiyum varathu. Ethu news, ethu fake nne puriya maatengarathu!”

Ambi: “Illappa, like,…athellam oru probleme illai! Like,… we can filter fake news, like,.. with tools”

Mama: “Whatever you say, Newspaper is Newspaper. English improve aagum! Ongalukku ellam ippo puriyaathu! Varikku vari like,… like,… – ithellam Englishaaa?? Ozhunga Hindu paper chinna vayasulenthu engala madiri padichirunthaa English thaanave varum. You will be a master of Queen’s English, I say!”

Ambi: “Appa, paper vadhachu, indhaango!!!”

The best escape route to get away from a menacing mama is to hand over a Newspaper and disappear!!!

“Aamaaam, innikku ungaathula paper vandhaacha???”

Deepavali vanthaachu!

Much has been written about how Deepavali was observed and celebrated in Tambrahm households a few decades ago. For Mamas and Mamis in their 40’s and above, nostalgia overflows when any discussion happens around this topic. “Antha Kaalathila naanga eppadi Deepavali ellaruma chernthu kondaaduvom theriyumo?” nnu Mamas break into Ragam, Thanam, Pallavi etc, etc on this very popular topic!

Like

– how 1 month before, the entire family will go for buying pudhu thuni for Deepavali

– how Kaadar master will paduthufy by not giving the stitched clothes till the Deepavali eve

– how the Mami at home will systematically start preparing the Deepavali batchanams 3 / 4 days before

– how the Mama and sons will go shopping for Deepavali pattaasu in the last night before Deepavali to get a good bargain

– how the entire family will get up as early as 3’0 clock on Deepavali day

– how there would be a fierce competition between neighbourhood kids on who fired the 1st pattaasu and who fires more pattaasu and whose house has got more pattaasu kuppai!

– on the entire family taking oil bath with hot water from an appliance called “boiler” one by one!

– how the Mama will hand over the new clothes after bath to the kids one by one from Swamy ullu

– on how one avoids batchanam from some Mamis houses and gorge on few others based on reputation of quality and taste from previous years

– On ordering the ‘Ananda Vikatan – Deepavali Malar’ and reading the same till the next DeepavalI! and so on!

So let me dwell into the Deepavali (or is it Diwali these days?) at the house holds of young Tambrahm Mamas and Mamis who are in their 30’s and 40’s empowered and liberated by the IT revolution in the last 2 decades!

Diwali fever these days sets in just about 3 or 4 days before the D-Day! And conversations in households go something like this:

Mami: “Innum 3 / 4 naal thaan irukku, Diwali kku! Shopping ellam panna vendaama??”

Mama: “Independence Day sale la vaangina oru pudhu shirt onnu, rendu irukku. Namma Bala kalyanathukku kadacha veshti irukku, poraatha? Ennoda Diwali shopping aachu!”

Mami: “Ungalakku enna! Pudhu thuni ellam pooti, pooti venchundu iruppel. Anyway I will order today in Myntra. 2 days la vanthurum! Rohitukku mattum oru dress innikki poi vaangidalaam. What about batchanam?”

Mama: “Pona varusham, intha Rajamani caterer kitta order panninathu onnum sariye illa! So this year, let us look at other options. Ramani mama kitta order pannidalaama? Enna Sweet order pannattum?

Mami: “You decide!”

Mama: “Baadusha?”

Mami: “Eppa paaru oru Baadusha! Itha vitta vera sweete kadayaatha? Naanum namma marriage aanathu lenthu paakaren!”

Mama: “Baadusha engaathu aasthana sweetu! Athu illaama Diwaliye kadayaathu engathula!”

Mami: “Lets order Jaangiri and Laddu. Apparam naan aathula sasthirathukku Thengai barfi pannaren!”

Mama: “Intha varushamum Thenga Barfiyaa???”

Mami: “Last 4 / 5 years atha panni oru madiri perfect aayuiduthu! So I will make the same!”

Mama: (Manasukkulla) “I thought you asked me to decide???” “O.K, athu kooda murukku and kaara sev order pannidaren!”

Mami: “No, no, order mixture and ribbon pakoda. Engaathula athu must for Diwali!!”

Mama: (Manasukulla) “Ithu mattum ellaa varshamum o.k vaa??? Intha ulagathula ellaa wivesum book ezhuthinaa, they can all use the same title as Raghuram Rajan’s book – I do What I do!!!”

Mami: “You said something?”

Mama: “Illiye!” (Manasukkulla) “Eppadi thaan manasukkulla sollikarathu kooda intha ladies kku kekaratho???”

And the Diwali day comes.

After getting up earlier than usual at 6.30 AM, the first half an hour or so goes in selecting some new GIF for Diwali greeting and broadcasting among the myriad WhatsApp groups, the Mama is part of.

Mami: “Diwali athuvuma kaalankaarthala oru phonoda okkanthaacha?? Why don’t you wake up Rohit, get him ready and you also take bath?”

Mama: “Itho vanthutten! Elllarum WA la wish pannindu irukka. Nee kulichuttaya?

Mami: “I am going for bath now. Enga antha nethikku vaangindu vantha arappu podi? Engamma specifica sonna atha thalaila pottu kulikka!”

Mama: “Athu Arappu podi illa. Seeyakkai podi!” Arappu podi paathirathukku podarathu!”

Mami: “Yetho oru podi! By the time I come back from bath, just get Rohit ready! Papera vechundu okaandhudaathel!”

Mama: “You first take bath and come! Diwaliye mudinjudum polarukku!”

After some time, the Mama, Mami and the kid all take bath and get ready.

Mami: “Did you taste my Thengai Barfi yesterday? Antha table mela vechuirunthene? You didn’t say anything?”

Mama: “No. Naan taste pannala!”

Mami: “Ungamma panni vechuruntha, intha samayathukku oru 5 piece ulla poyirukkum!”

Mama: “O.K, O.K. Let me taste this.”

Mami: “Wait, wait. Don’t take this full piece. Taste this odanja piece. Nalla shapela vantha piece ellam vachu, I have to take a pic and post it on FB and on WhatsApp. You also post in your friends groups. Your friends should not think that you have got an “Obi” wife! Make sure you mention ‘Home made” o.k??”

For a Mama if there are 2 questions which he would like to avoid at all costs in life, they are

1. “Naan intha dress la eppadi irukken? Do I look fat?”

2. “Eppadi irukku taste? Nanna vanthurukka?”

So usually for both these questions, Mamas give standard replies and you know what they are!!! Mama: “Thenga barfi super!” (Manasukkulla) “Thenga Barfi nna konjam sweet thookala irukkanum.

Ippadi blanda panninaa yaaru saapiduvaa? Engamma pannuvaa paaru. Thenga Barfikku ISI Standard athu thaan!

Mami: “Aanaalum ungamma panra madiri irukaathe???”

Mama: “No, No. This time it is really come out well! O.K, Let us get ready and go to your parents’ house. Anga thaane saapadu?

Mami: We will leave exactly at 12.00. That Myntra fellow said he will deliver the dress at 11.00. Intha meantime, take Rohit down and sasthrathukku oru mathaappu koluthittu vanthudungo!

Mama: “I bought some pattaasu yesterday. Athayum koluthittu varom!”

Mami: “Why did you buy pattaasu and all? Already there is so much pollution in the air. Chumma Sasthrathukku kambi mathaappu mattum porum. Rohit school la kooda stricta cholli irukka. No crackers nnu. Antha vediyellathaiyum, security kitta kuduthudungo!”

Mama: (Manasukkulla) “Security vedicha pollution aagaatha?” And finally as they got ready to leave,

Mami: “Eppadi irukku intha dress? Am I looking fat???”

Mama follows the SOP prescribed for the situation and mouths the right lines!

Mami: Oru photo edungo paakalaam. And send to me. DP update pannanum!

And as they stepped out of the flat, Pakkathu flat Mama:

“Enna Saar, Ganga Snanam ellam aacha? Happy Diwali!” Mama: “Tanker water Snanam thaan aachu!

Happy Deepavali!”

Engaathu Golu!

In South India, Navarathri is observed with much fervour to celebrate the victory of good over evil (for that matter most festivals) – in this case Goddess Durga’s victory over Mahishasura. May be because of this, Navarathri is closely associated with the ladies at home. 9 days of action when the Mamis and ponna porandavaas dominate the proceedings in any Tambrahm household. (Rest of the days also Mamis only dominate, but in this week openly and completely!!!) Those 9 days, Mamigala pidikka mudiyaathu. For a change, this piece is about Mamas and Navarathri.

These days, thanks to FB, the Golu tradition is back everywhere. Accordingly, the grind for the Mama starts 2/3 days ahead of the start of Navarathri. “Enna Mr, antha paran lenthu Golu bommai yellathayum eduthu kudungo.” Then one by one instructions fly past the Mamas thick and fast. The Mamis don’t need any SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) documentation for all these. They can just reel out one by one even in the middle of the night! Then other instructions follow:

Antha bommai yellathayum dust panni vechudungo. Naan poi, intha gift items, ithyaathi, ithyaathi items ellam vaangindu vanthudaren! Innikke pogaata nalla items onnum kadaikaathu! Apparam antha Golu padiyaiyum set up pannidungo. Naan vanthudaren!

The next 3 hours while the Mami is busy shopping, Mama is immersed in the above tasks. The son who religiously gives company for watching cricket matches appo paarthu will be missing in action! “Dei, Suresh! Inga Konjam varayaa? Intha dust pannina bommai yellathayum onnu onna eduthu vei paakalam” Illa Appa, enakku naalaikku cycle test. Naan padichindu irukken! Ennaala ippo vara mudiyaathu! Of course Mama’s generous advice of “illada, Konjam break eduthukko” falls in deaf ears!!

By the time the Mami is back from the shopping expedition, the assigned tasks are somehow done. In his athigaprasangithanam, the Mama attempts to do more for which archanai is soon to follow!!

Mami: Yenna, ivalavu varshama namma Golu vekkarom. Golu padi odd numberaa thaan irukkanumnu ongalukku theriyaatha? Kashtam! Yen ippadi 6 padiyaa erect panni vechurukkel?

Mama: Enakku theriyum! Antha last padi la clamp odanjuduthu! Giri trading la poi vera vaangindu varanum!

Mami: Ippo thaane vaanginom! Warranty la freeyaa kudukka chollungo!

Mama: Warrantyaa? Vaangi 3 varusham aachu? Normala ve antha Giri Trading la ellathukkum rules pesuvaa! Ithukku freeyaa ellaam replacement thara maatta!

Mami: Anyway, neenga ippave poi vaangindu vanthudungo. Naan Bommai yellam arrange panren!

Mama’s plan of a nice afternoon siesta goes for a toss! Also the 1st 15 overs of the 1st innings of the one day match – Govinda! The son’s sly remark of “Appa, naan record panni vekkaren! Don’t worry!” only adds to the irritation!

By the Mama returns, to his surprise the entire Golu set up is ready! Yenna, enna yetho clamp odanjuduthu nnu sonnel? Ippo paarungo! Mama of course asadu vazhinjundu, “Antha odanju pona clamp enna aachu?” Neenga enna Mechanical engineero? Antha kaalathula merit la REC admission kadachuthu, Gold Medallist nnu ellam sonnel?? Oru clamp fix panna mudiyala? Naan Suresh ta sonnen. Avan pathhu nimishathula panni kuduthuttaan! In Mama’s mind, son Suresh resembles villain Nambiar now! Dei, matchayum miss panni, ippadi vaangi kattika vendirukku!

“Enna, parkukku yethavathu oru nalla idea kudungalen! Neenga dhaane veetula Creative person!” This is how the Mama usually falls in the trap of giving ideas which any way get rejected and finally Mami’s will usually prevails. But anyway since he has been anointed as the Creative head of the family, he has to reel out a few ideas which he does obediently!

Mama: Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan theme la panninaa enna?

Mami: Modi Bhakt nnu ellaarum ninaika poraa!

Mama: Oru village, school, pond,.. appadi??

Mami: Rendu varsham munnai idha dhane panninom, maranthutela?

Mama: Namma Kitta niraya Animal bommai yellam irukke. Zoo maadiri???

Mami: O.K. I got a good idea! Oru Graamam maadiri pannittu, anga Swachh Bharat theme use pannidalaam!!

Mama: Sari! OK. Ithaye pannalaam (Manasukkulla – Naanum idha thaan sonnen!!!)

So finally the Navarathri starts and gets going! The Mami diligently works out a schedule for different groups as per age groups and other criteria and sends out invites thro WhatsApp inviting people to come home for Navarathri and take Vethala Paaku. That complex algorithm also takes care of not inviting rival Mamis on the same day even by mistake! The Mama of course has no clue on this algorithm and how the ladies have been grouped and invited!!! So conversations like this during Golu time are not of any surprise in a Tambrahm veedu.

Mami: Itha paarungo! Innikku namma ponnoda friends oda mothersa koopiturukken. Oru mundaa baniyanum, veshtuyuma nikkathel. Decenta oru shirtum pantuma nillungo!

And Mama: I thought y’day was all senior Mamis. How come today one senior Mami turned up?

Mami: This is senior Mami but part of my Zumba Dance group. Today I have clubbed the Zumba and my school groups!!

In this complex scheduling, the Mamis also have to allocate time for visiting other Mamis’ houses and collect their entitlements! In spite of the very minute and accurate planning and scheduling, these situations do invariably happen. Year after year.

Mami: Naan 8th floorla Lalitha Mami aathukku poyittu varen. Innikku yaaraiyum koopidalai. But still, yaaravathu vantha, konjam pechu kuduthindu irungo. Ennakku oru message podungo. Naan sattunnu vanthudaren! Pona varsham antha Kausalya Mami yoda periya vayatha paarthu – Pregnant polarukku? Congratulations nnu sonnele, athu madiri yellam olaraama irungo!

In similar situations, some Mamas are very smart and engage in conversations with Mamis knowing well the topic which works.

Mama: Enna Mami, US la payyan kitta konja naal irunthuttu vanthel polarukku?

This one liner is enough to start a flood gate of dialogues from the US return

Mami. For the next few minutes till the house Mami comes, the guest Mami will hold forth on Navarathri and Golu what she experienced in the US last year same time!

Guest Mami: “Anga mostly ellaarum “Green Navarathri” thaan. Ellam recyclable items thaan use pannara.”

So on and so forth. Mama wants to say,”Namma naatuleyum I know many Mamis who recycle everything from Vethalai, to Paaku to Cheepu to Kannaadi to return gifts”, but stops short of saying as the wife’s warning face which resembles Sudha Chandran’s character in some serials fleetingly appears in the front!!)

By the time house Mami is back, Mama has already got a complete download on the cultural scene in the US!! Of course the Mami firsts checks if there was any embarrassment during her brief absence kannaaleye!! Smart Mamas try to escape from all this by coming late from office during Navarathri. Or if at home, remain consigned to the bedroom till the vetthala paakku action gets over in the hall. The previous year an Extra TV in the bedroom was fixed precisely for these situations. Mama can continue watching Arnab Goswami without any break! Which suits the Mamis also. Otherwise more embarrassment can ensue like these:

As the Mama enters the house though late, still a few Mamis are around. So, the house Mami has no option but to introduce the guest Mamis to her husband.

Guest Mami: Enakku thaan ivara theriyume. FB la thaan naraya joke ellam post pannindu irukaare!

You can imagine the looks of the house Mami hearing this and what that means – Naane FB la ava kooda friends illa. Neenga connected aa????

And more stories like this. By the time the Navarathri comes to an end, the Mamis are a tired lot and the Mamas a relieved lot!! Relief of course only after all the bommais are packed properly and put back in the paran safely!!!

Happy Navarathri! Ongaathu Golu readya?