Aathu Visesham over Zoom!

This Corona Virus has turned the whole world upside down. Things we thought would never function this way have now become a daily routine. No, I am not talking about all of us being engaged in BJP (Bartan, Jhadu, Pocha) activities at home for more than 2 months now. For so many years, some conference calls in offices would happen over Zoom. Ippo, olagame, Zoom la thaan odindu irukku!

These days, from business meetings (which is understandable) to school sessions to college lectures to Violin classes to Yoga sessions to cookery classes to Bharatnatyam classes and finally even gym sessions are all happening over Zoom! Will aathu functions that are time bound which cannot be postponed for obvious reasons be left behind? So, functions like Seemandham, Thottil/Peridal, Aandu niravu… have already started happening over Zoom.  I haven’t still attended any visesham over Zoom yet. I was thinking what if a function like Aandu Niravu happened over Zoom and this piece is a result of that karpanai!

Few days before the function which is happening somewhere in Chennai:

Wife: Intha lockdown naala even ennoda appa, amma, anna, thangai ellam functionukku vara mudiyaathu.

Husband: En side lenthum thaan yaarum vara porathu illa.

Wife: Ellarukkum Zoom invite anupichacha? Oru rendu naalaiku appuram, oru reminder anupichudu!

Husband: First intha, WhatsApp list ukku ellam anupichachu. Appuram, naalaikulla E mail list ukkum anupichuduven.

Wife: Zoom callukku, oru password pottudu. Ippo ellam Zoom la lot of security concerns’nnu cholra.

Husband: Yes. Yes. Rohit.Anduniravu@123 nnu password create pannitten.

Wife: Namma cousins ellam o.k. But periyavaalluku, Zoom la eppadi log in panrathu and other steps – oru chinna note create panni WhatsApp la pottudu.

Husband: Ippo ellarum Zoom’ la expert. Unga Appa/Ammakku venna puthusa irukalaam. Anyway suggestion taken. I will make a note.

Wife: Namma Vadhyaaroda confirmation vanthudutha? He is coming no?

Husband: Yes. But oru Junior vaadhyaar paiyana thaan anupuvennu sollitaar. He doesn’t want to take risk with Senior Vadhyaars it seems.

Wife: Yaarai aavathu anupicha seri. Marakaama society la permission vaangidu, Vaadhyaarukku.

Husband: I am waiting for the name of the Vadhyaar and Aadhar number. Adhu vantha odane, societykku e-mail anupichuduven.

Wife: Ethukkum, oru onnarai litre sanitiser, 10 extra mask, 10 set gloves ellam innikku Amazon la order pannidu.

Husband: Ethukku? Iruka porathu namma 3 moonu perum, vaadhyaarum. Ethukku extra Sanitiser?

(Wife followed the usual SOP for functions of ordering extra milk – just that the milk got replaced by Sanitiser)

Now over to the day of the Aandu niravu:

Wife: Zoom’a ON panniyaacha?

Husband: Vaadhyaar varattum, panren.

One very young junior vaadhyar comes.

Husband: Vaadhyaar, vaango vaango. First time varrel. Veedu kandu pidikarathukku onnum problem illiye.

Vaadhyaar: Onnum prachinai illai. Lockdown aanaalum google map work panrathe. Onga society thaan romba strict’a irukaale.

Husband: Yen, enna aachu?

Vaadhyaar: Phone la Aarogya Setu App iruntha thaan ulla viduvennu security sollitaan. Nalla valai. Rendu naa munaadi thaan, namma Modi solraar’nnu download panni vechen. Athula ‘Safe” nnu kaamichapparam thaan ullaye vittaan!

Husband: Sari, aarambipoma? Ellarum kaathundu iruppa.

Vaadhyaar: Enna manusha ellam Zoom la varaala? Ippo ella functionnum appadi thaan nadakarathu. Zoom aarambikarathukku munnaadi ungalakuu panjagachatha katti vitudaren. Atha ellarum paakka vendaame!

Husband: Ella Vadhyaar madiriyum romba tamasha pesarel. Sari, katti vittudungo.

When everything is set:

Vaadhyaar: Mama, Naazhi aayindurukku. Zoom’a start pannidungo. Namma 40 nimishathula ellathayum mudichu aaganum. Illa nna, call’a cut panniduvaan.

Husband: Cut aayiduthunna, ellarayum thirumba log in panna cholli irukken.

The Zoom call for the function starts:

From different parts of the world, in different time zones, birthday paiyanoda Thatha- Thathis/Paattis, Mama-Mamis, Athai-Athimbars, Chitti-Chittappas, Perimma-Periappas, many cousins and even one Kollu paatti have now logged in for the Aandu niravu.

The next few minutes,  a cacophony ensues:

Hi Amma, hello mama, namaskaram athimbar, Hi Cheenu etc etc

Naan pesarathu kekarathaa ungalukku?

Appa, neenga video’va ON pannungo, Blank’a irukku

Raghu, nee mute la irukka. Onnum kekka mattengarathu.

Cheenu, anga konjam light bright’aa aakku. Paatikku onnum theriyalennu cholraa!

Oru vazhiyaa, ellam settle aagarathukku oru 15 minutes aayiduthu.

Finally Vaadhyaar takes charge and starts.

Vaadhyaar: Appo Aarambikalama?  Naan pesarathu ellarukkum kekaratho illiyo? Ellarum ippo WFH’nnu Work From Home la irukkel. Ithu AFH – Attend From Home. Ithukku sila vidhi murai ellam irukku. Ellarum mute la irungo. Naan cholarathai gavanama kettu seiyungo. Chat’la pesindu irukapadathu.

Mami neenga vanthu ippadi vilakka yethungo.

Appadiye camera’va paathu rendu perum oru namaskaram pannidungo.  Camera East facing thaane?? Avaa avaa iruntha padiye, ivaalukku aasirvaadham pannidungo.

Thatha: Intha chinnavaal ellam settha antha pakkama nillungo. Namaskaaram panratha kurukka vara padathu!

While the function is going on in the Chennai house, others are in mute for now and having their own animated conversations.

Wife’s mother: Namma Cheenu voda Appa (Referring to the Sambandi) Veshti kattindu irukalamonno? Innikkum oru ara korai, shorts pottundu nikkaraare?

Wife’s father: Athukenna ippo. Zoom call thaane. Naanum oru shorts pottundu comfortable’a irukalamnnu thaan yosichen. Apparam, namma paatti paathanna kathuvaannu veduppa veshtiya kattindu irukken!

Kollu Paatti: Enna ithu, namma Raghu voda ponnu rendu perum oru pottu kooda ittu kaama, viseshathukku vanthu irukka?

Yarathu? Naalum kizhamaiyuma karuppu poo potta nightie’la? (Kollu paatti at this age has sharp eyes to identify all this, that too on the computer screen)

Mama: Avaalukku US’la ippo thoongara neram. Rendu ponnum chamathu ponnugal aakkum.

Athimbar: (Un-muting himself) – Vaadhyar, sankalpathula mandiratha maranthuttel. Konjam thirupi chollungo. (Muting himself)  Intha chinna pasangale ippadi thaan. Mandirangalai poora padikarathu kidaayaathu. Appo appo muzhunga vendiyathu!

In the meantime, younger cousins are chatting on the Zoom chat window!

In between, exactly after 40 minutes, Zoom cuts off the call and everyone had to re-join. Once again, audio kekaratha, video correcta irukka followed and the function resumed.

As part of the Aandu niravu function, the aayush homam starts.

Mama from Palakkad: Zoom la oru advantage. Homam aarambicha oda vendiyathu illa. Enakku pogai naale allergy!

Finally, the Vaadhyaar announces the Aashirvadham part.

Vaadhyaar: Periyavaa ellarum kaiyila konjam atchadaiya eduthukongo. Naan chollum pothu, phone camera meleyo, computer camera meleyo, atchadaiya pottu aasirvadham pannungo. Rendu atchadai porum. Alli pottu camerava damage panna vendaam.

After that is over:

Vaadhyaar: Ellarum anga anga iruntha padiye enna kudukarelnnu kaamichurungo, naan inga mandiratha chollikaren. Corona ellam mudinja udane marakaama, anupichudungo!

Rojano rojamaanasya, Shobano shobamaanasya kalyanaha… Thatha-Paati vagai aasirvadham kuzhandaikku oru swarna maalai,…,…

Chittappa-Chitti vagai aasirvadham , paiyannukku 1000 roobaai Amazon voucher!

And so on…

Vaadhyar: Appadiye kozhandaiyoda athaiyum, mamiyuma iruntha edathulenthe arathi eduthudungo! Paatum paadanam. 

With the Achaarya Sambavanai, the Zoom function comes to an end.

Cousin: (In a lighter vein) Cheenu, Appo saapaadu ellam??

Husband: Just wait pannungo. Lunch is ready. Inga irunthe, swamikku neivedyam panra maadiri, praanaya swaha pannidiren ungalukku! 

Vaadhyar: Sari, appo naan kalambaren. Enakku oru Zoomandham sorry Seemandham nadathi kudukka irukku, aduthathu!

Lockdown paduthara paadu!

The usually chatty and eventful day in the life of Tambrahms have become chattier and more eventful during these lockdown days.

“Innikku menu enna?” – Even during normal days, as I have written in one of my earlier posts, this is one phrase which will get the goat of mamis at Tambrahm households often.  Ippo kekave vendaam.  Due to the lockdown, mamis who usually manage the menu time table very efficiently using complex algorithmic formula that has been handed over by their ammas, are at sea in the past few weeks. Due to non-availability or shortage of key groceries and provisions, ivalavu varshama use pannindu iruntha technique ellam onnuthukkum ubayogam illaama poyiduthu!

“Oru ravai mattum aathula stock iruntha, ethara easy theriyumo? Kaarthala tiffinukku Upma oru naal, rava idli oru naal nnu pannalaam. Appadiye ravaiya vechu Pongalum pannalaam. Upma va konjam maathi oru naal Rava kichidinnu thatti vidalaam.  Apparam raathiri palagarathukku rava dosai panni oru naal samaalichudalaam. Apparam, saayangaalam enna tiffinnnu mama kekarache, rava kesariyum pannalaam! Intha ravai illaama thindaattama irukku. Intha essential items la first ravaiya manufacture panna cholli, supply panna thodanganam”! This was a mami talking to her friend who is stuck in Florida now. “Neenga yen kekarel? South Indian items ellaam inga Indian stores’la out of stock! Rava mattum illai, oru saamaan inga stock illa! India vula Ponni arisi, puzhungal arisi ithellam ungalukku kidaikume? Maava araichu vechutta idli, doasai nnu kadaiya ottalaam. Bread’a thinnu thinnu aluthu poyaachu, mami!”

Not only Rava. There are other such “God sent” items like Aval… which are also on short supply, making the life of the mami tougher. Conversations like these are common at Tambrahm households these days:

Mama: Innikku menu enna?

Mami: Kaalangaarthala ezhuntha udane, intha kelviya engitta kekka dheengo. Athu thaan T.N. Seshan yetho sonnaaraame. Palakkad Iyers are either good cooks or crooks nnu? Naan ithu vara neenga cook panni paathathu illai. Samayala pathi vaai kizhiya pesarathoda sari! Oru naal neenga samayungalen.

Mama: Enna ippadi sollitta? Antha kaalathula enga kovil Annual Sastha preetikku enga thatha Parameshwara Iyeroda paal payasuthukkunne manusha varuvaa!

Mami: Intha kathaiya engitta oru 101 praavisyam cholli iruppel. Naan unga thatha va pathi kekalai. Unga appavum nanna paayasam veppar. Naan paathirukken.  Ongala pathi kekaren.

Mama: Ippo enna? Enna menu nnu thane ketten? Etha panrayo pannu.

The fact is many mamas are good at basic level cooking. Some have passed advanced grade also. But there are many, who, even if they don’t know to cook, will get very high marks in theory!

“Samalaya pathi vakkanaiya pesuvaar engaathu mama. Ellam therinju vechundu, en uyira vaanguvaar, intha manushan”, I have often heard this from many mamis!

Once the menu is finalised somehow, looking at what is available and what is not and all, the next question which creates additional head ache for the mami is “Thottukka enna?”

Mami: Tifinnukku Idli panni vechurukken. Vanthu eduthukongo.

Mama: Idli ya? Thottukka enna?

Mami: Idli panrathe perisu intha samayathula. Ithula thottukka enna vereya? Irukkara molaga podiya thottundu chaapidungo. Kalyana aathu tiffin madiri Chutney, Sambhar, Molaga podi, Gotsu’nnu varietya ellam ippo panna mudiyaathu. Irukaratha kazhiyungo!

Mama: (Mind voice) Yetho matha nalla ellam romba variety’a pannina madiri!

As you are aware, thanks to lockdown, most of the mamas are now WFH. WFH nna Working From Home illai. Anyway, retired aayache. Because the maid servants are not coming, they are now “Working For Home” in addition to their WhatsApping From Home!

So in the morning, once the Coffee is over, mama Shanka Chakra Gada Pani madiri, oru kaiyula thodappam, innoru kayila Mop stick, naduvula moramuma veetta clean panrennu does his bit these days in cleaning the house. As per mami, in normal days, the same Shanka Chakra Gada Pani mama will have mobile phone in one hand, TV remote in another and US Ponnu vaangi kudutha I-pad in between while sipping his filter Kaapi on and off.

Though the cleaning effort and the helping hand of the mama are commendable, mami is anxious to know when the government will start allowing non-essential goods to be sold. Yenna, mama cleaning aarambichathulenthu, shopping panrathukku list perisaayinde irukku. So far, in the past 4 weeks the score is 5 wickets sorry 4 items down. Mop stick rendeyum udachachu. Thudaikara bucket handle poyaachu. Vilakku maar – naar naar’aa vanthundu irukku. Paathiram thekkara Scotch Brite onnu micham illai.  Ithellam udane vaangiye aaganum.

The other day, when mami was having a WhatsApp video call with her friend, the friend mami said, “Enna mami, unga aathu floor oda shining enakku inga theriyarathe!” Mama overheard this and the result was the breaking of the mop stick. Not just one. But the second one which was kept for standby purposes also in an attempt to impress mami further!

Just like everyone else now, mamas and mamis are craving for the day when the lockdown will be fully lifted and life can go back to normal. Some of the laments of the mamas include:

Oru walkingukku kooda poga mudiyaama, veettaye evalavu naalaikku suthi vanthindu irukarathu?

Oru Kovilukku poi ethara naal aayachu? Intha varsham namma kovilla bhagavatha sapthaham ellam miss panni aachu!

Aryaas hoteloda Nei roast, masala vadaiyoda taste’a maranthu poyaachu!

Adutha vaaram Sabha vila Sanjay Subramanyam kacheri irunthathu – athuvum cancel!

Oru kalyanam, karthigainnu onnuthukkum poga mudiyama aayachu. Inime oru varshathukku veeta vittu engeyum eranga mudiyathu!

Innaikku Trissur Pooram kodiyettukku oru manusha illai! Ennoda Jeevithathula itha parupen’nnu naan vijaarikave illai!

Intha China kaaran eduthu vitta virus naala, logam enna paadu padarathu paathiyo?

Naan decide panni aachu, inime China voda oru product naan vaanga porathu illa! Vera entha country product aanaalum o.k. But, China never!

Neenga enna decide panni irukkel?

 

Image courtesy: Webdunia

Connecting the Dots – Tambrahm Style!

Avanaa? Namma Rajamony! Peruvemba athaiyoda, oruppodiyoda, thambi aakkum. ISRO la yaakkum joli! Periya post la irukkaan!

Welcome to “Connecting the Dots – Tambrahm style”!

Among many other things, if there is one unique thing at which you can’t beat the yesteryear generation of Tambrahms, it is the ease and authority with which they will connect the dots of people’s identities. When I say yesteryear generation, I mean those who are now in the mid 60’s and above. This includes both mamas and mamis!

Somehow, the current generation to which I belong (Doordarshan generation ’nnu sollalaam), the Gen X (SW/IT/Computer generation nnu vechukongo) and the Gen Y (Mobile /WhatsApp generation) just cannot match the skill of the previous generation in recalling and placing people so accurately.

In marriages and get-togethers, these kind of conversations and the ensuing embarrassments are so very common:

Mama: Onnoda face familiar’a irukke. But pidi kadaikka mattengarathu! Ennatheriyumo?

You: Theriyaleye mama!

Mama: (Disappointedly) Theriyalaya! Intha kaalathu youngsters’s naale ippadi than! Onnum takkunnu nyabagathukku varathu illai!

You: (Happy that you have been called a youngster and at the same time irritated with the diatribe on youngsters) Neenga thaane sonnel, pidi kadaikka mattengarathunnu??

Mama: Nee entha ooru? Where are you basically from? Adha chollu.

You: Naan, Mankombu, mama!

Mama: (Gets a flash) Nee Mankombu Kichanoda paiyyan thaane?

You: Aamaamaam. Eppadi kandu pidichel?

Mama: Mankombu nnu chonna udaneye ennakku pidi kadachuduthu! Onga Thatha Mani Iyeroda moga chayalum, colourum appadiye irukke! Enna theriyaratho?

You: Illa mama.

Mama: Nammal ellam dayaathigal aakkum! Dayaathigal nna theriyumo? Namma appa side family la ethavathu saavu nadanthuthunna namakellam pelai undu.

You: Athu ippo ethukku mama? Enna relationnnu sollungo.

Mama: Ungappa kitta kelu. Kathai kathaiya cholluvaar. Naanga Mankombu vella pokkam samayathula boatula eppidi kalichundu iruppomnu!

You: Oh appidiya. Kekkaren. Neenga yaarunnu chollaliye.

Mama: Naan Sivan. Unga Kollu paataavoda, annavoda renda matha pullaiyoda paiyanakkum.

You: O.k, O.k puriyarathu.

Mama: Purinjutha? Appo chollu paakalaam. Naan yaaru?

You: Enga Kollu thaathovoda….. er…. er…

Mama: Innamum theriyalaiya? Unga appovoda cousinaakkum.

You: (mind voice) – Ippadi first’e simple’aa cholli irukalaame? 

Nice meeting mama. Appa kitta cholren.

Mama: Naan unnoda Chittappa vaakkum. Mama illai.

You: Sorry, Chittappa, appo paakalaam (Escape)

What is amazing is the way the entire family tree is entrenched in the brains of these mamas and mamis complete with name, place, father’s name, mother’s name, gothram, nakshatram,…,… Only Aadhaar number is missing apparently!

Mami: (To her daughter in a function) Antha brown colour varayan (checked) shirt yarunnu therinjutha?

Daughter:  Athu ippo recent’a kalyanam aache. Namma Thangam mami yoda, ponnoda maaplai.

Mami: Oh Avanaa?  Avaa familikkum namakkum neraya connection undu! Theriyumo?

Daughter: Theriyaathe!

Mami:  Thotta edathula ellam namakku connection thaan. Engaathu side leyum connection. Appa side leyum.

Daughter: Naan just family friendunnu thaane ninaichen!

Mami: Appa voda moonaamatha athai yoda pullai namma LIC Raman. Avaroda Chittappavoda ponnu thaan intha maapilaiyoda amma.

Atha thavira, en side la enga thathovoda anna Barrister Ratnam Iyeroda pulla thaan maapilaiyoda appa.

Daughter: Thalaya sutharathu.

Mami: Simple’aa solren.

Daughter: Ippo Vendamma, ela pottachu. Chaapda polaam!  (Escape)

While the average Tambrahm mama and mamis in that generation have this kind of recall capability, there are a few who outshine all of them simply by their brilliance of connecting the dots. These people will pull out connections from nowhere.  With their astounding memory and exceptionally sharp brains, they are most sought after in the family while stitching up marriage alliances.

Mama: Ponnukku Koduvayur lenthu varan vanthirukku. Avaa originally Koduvayur. Ippo Del-hi la irukka. Paiyyan Florida la Doctor. Nalla family madiri theriyara. Unakku theriyumo ivalai?

Sharp Mama: Koduvayur veettu perenna?

Mama: Mecheri Madam nnu chonna.

Sharp Mama: Mecheri madama? Theriyume. Paiyanoda appa Del-hi la Income Tax la retired Secretary thaane? Gopalakrishnan Iyer thaane peru?

Mama: Correct. Athe thaan. Unakku theriyuma?

Sharp Mama: Ennakku nanna theriyum avaalai. Gopalakrishnanoda wife ennoda wifekku relationaakkum. Ennoda wife oda periamma pon Seethalakshmi irukkaale, Bombayle? Avaloda naathanar aakkum intha Gopalakrishnanoda wife!

We (as Onlooker Mind voice): Eppadi ithu? Mama voda pere sollaleye? Just oor per thaane chollitthu? Palakkad, Koduvayur, Mecheri madam, Delhi nnu sonna udaneye, pattunnu family history, kulam, Gothram,…,…ellathayum eduthu vidaraare?

In my opinion, as an onlooker, the best shock and awe are reserved when two equally sharp yesteryear mamas or mamis meet and converse regarding placing someone:

Mama 1: Namma Simpson Shankaranarayananoda paiyannukku kalyaanam fix aayrirukku.

Mama 2: Oh, Very good. Aaaru ponnu?

Mama 1: Unakku therinjurukkum. Namma Palliparam Naanu irukkaane. Avanoda shaddaganoda thambiyoda ponnaam.

Mama 1: Antha Reliance’ la work panra shaddagannaa? Bala thaane?

Mama 2: Aamaamaam.

Mama 1: Bala voda thambi ennoda Brother in law kku sontham.

Mama 2: Appidiyaa? Enna relation?

Mama 1: Avan thambi  – Ramanathan vanthu ennoda Brother in law Sureshoda cousin.

Mama 2: Theriyume. Sureshoda mama Krishna Iyeroda pulla thaane. Ammanji nnu chollu.

Mama 1: Metal Box Krishna Iyer, ippo enga irukkaar?

Mama 2: Ippo Metal Box lenthu retire aayi, Nana Nani la vanthu settle aayaachu.

Mama 1: Nana Naniya? Entha phase?

Mama 2: Phase 2

Mama 1: Phase 2 vaa? Anga ennoda sister in law oda Anna ippo thaan veedu eduthirukaan., Peru Santhanam.

Mama 2: Namma Paatti Santhanam thaane? Intha Drama la ellam Paatti vesham poduvaare? Avarai nanna theriyum. Paatti Santhanathoda wife Sudha ennoda daughter in law kku doorathu sontham!

Now, this is how the conversation branches out from one family branch to another and goes either deep into the roots or goes upwards from branch to stem to leaves!

In fact, it is reliably learnt that the social network platform Geni, which works based on Family tree, hired few mamas and mamis for few months as consultants when they were in the US as part of their annual visits way back in the late 90’s. With that expertise they have been able to roll out a perfect family tree platform!

Also because of this ‘Connecting the Dots’ skill only, most of the mamis are able to put perfect kolams during margazhi and festival days nnu vera kelvi!! (Don’t kill me now)

There is a Tamil proverb – “Aachanukku peechan madhanikku udanbirandan” the meaning of which I have never understood it fully.  But have come to understand that it refers to some really distant relation! But for the yesteryear Tambrahms, even if it is Aachanukku peechan and madanikku udanbirandan, they will know exactly where and how to put it in the family tree and explain as well.

Neenga eppidi? Connecting the dots’ la?

With’ aa? Without’ aa??

In any Tambrahm function whether it is a simple Aandu Niravu or a grand Kalyanam, one question you are most likely no, no…. you will definitely encounter just as you enter the hall is – Kaapi kudichela?  Not just once. First time paakaravaa ellam athe thirumba thirumba keppa!

Kaapi aayacha?

Nere kaapi kazhichuttu vanthurungo!

Luggage ellam apparam vechukalaam. Kaapi mudichuttu vanthurungo!

And so on.

Here Kaapi refers not just the Coffee drink but actually the breakfast.

If you arrive into a function in the evening, the above sequence repeats itself – and there the Kaapi refers to probably Coffee and evening snacks!

That Coffee occupies a very exalted position in the life of Tambrahms need not be elaborated at all.  In this Thanks giving week, if Kaapi has to extend its vote of thanks, it should first Kovil katti kumbudu pottu thank Tambrahms and then it should thank Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker (Starbucks founders pa) for its continued reign in the world!

While in the subject of Kaapi and Tambrahm functions, the next most familiar question one will encounter throughout the span of the function is – With’ aa? Without’ aa?

I don’t even have to explain this because, in Tambrahm circles, this is a very, very familiar and common question. Many Tambrahms – mamas and mamis alike, mainly due to family history and or dietary pattern and or rather deskbound lifestyle are afflicted with Diabetes. And hence after a particular age, many of them shun sugar in all forms.  So, they give up on sweets and even in functions resist temptations to taste that odd Jaangiri and paayasam! Or just oru tastukkunnu mattum nnu arai glass kudikarathu! However, in the case of Kaapi, there is no giving up there. So, in Tambrahm functions you will always have the option of Coffee “with” sugar and Coffee “without” sugar!

Nowadays in most Tambrahm functions Coffee is served in a separate “live” Coffee counter instead of serving along with breakfast or tiffin itself. This I think is mainly to manage the logistics of “with/without” options apart from of course being able to prepare fresh Kaapi and serve.  But, there is a flip side to this as I heard in one of the functions recently. ‘Enna anaalum, antha dosai/idli and molaga podi taste naakula irukaratheye chuda, chuda kaapi kudichaa, athu vera feeling. Once, intha vaaya alumbittu, apparama kaapi kudicha, athu vera taste aayidarathu!’

Around the “live” coffee counter, around the topic of “with” and “without” one can hear a combination of requests going to the poor Coffee mama!  Like:

Coffee Mama: With’ aa? Without’ aa??

Mama 1: With, With thaan!

Mama 2: Enakku oru Without!

Mami 1: Naan usually Without thaan. Aanaa innikki low sugar. Athanaale With’ e irukattum!

Mama 3: Chakkarai pottu oru nalla coffee chaapttu romba naalaachu! Mami pakkathula illiye? With’ e kudungo!

Mami 2: Enakku Without’ e kuduthurungo. Konjama naane chakkarai pottukaren!

Mama 4: Enakku sugar irukku. Aanaa coffee mattum sugar illaama kudikka mudiyaathu! With’ e kalanthudungo!

Mama 5: ‘With’ thaan. Aanaa chakkarai konjama podungo. Rendu moonu spoon pottuttu enna naalaikku ‘Without’ aa aakidaathengo!

Mami 3: Chaaya nna ‘Without’ kudikka mudiyaathu! Kaapi ‘Without’ kudikalaam! ‘Without’ ‘e kuduthurungo!

Mama 6: Enakku With’ um, Without ayaum mix panni kuduthudungo!  Appo thaan sugar correctaa irukkum! 

Mama 7: ‘With’ thaan! Aanaa chakkarai vendaam. Naatu chakkarai irukka??? Iruntha atha pottu kudungo!

Coffee Mama: Mama, Naatu chakkarai ellaam illa. Neenga ‘Without’ aa ve kudingo!

And so on!

And you can hear more conversations around this very important ‘With’ aa? Without’ aa?? topic:

Mama 1: Neenga With’ aa?  Without’ aa?
Mama 2: Enakku ithu varai ‘Without’ nilamai vanthathu illa! ‘With’ thaan! Ennikku ‘Without’ aagaratho, annikku logathhu lenthe pack up panna vendiyathu thaan!

Mama 1: Ennakku ellam 40 vayasulenthe ‘Without’ thaan! Athukku enna solrel? Ithellam appadiye manage panna vendiyathu thaan!

 ——————————————————————————————————–

Mama 1: Enna mama, neenga ‘Without’ aa? Nethikku paayasam rendu moonu glass vaangi kudichindu irunthele?

Mama 2: Chatthama pesaantheengo! Wife kaadula vizha porathu! Apparam oru vaarathukku aathula sahasranaama archanai thaan!

 ———————————————————————————————————

Mama 1: Enna mama? Neenga ‘Without’ aache? Innikku enna sugaroda kaapi kudikarel?

Mama 2: Naan 15 varushama ‘Without’. Ippo 6 maasama intha Patanjali diabatic tablet maathiraiyum, Yoga vum pannindu irukken. Ippo ‘With’ aayitten!

———————————————————————————————————–

Mama 1: Oru 6 Kaapi kudungoppa, vadhyaarmargalukku. Athula 2 “With’, 3 ‘Without’, 1 konjama ‘With’!!!

——————————————————————————————————-

Mami 1: Neenga With’ aa? Without’ aa??

Mami 2: Without thaan. Aana pona vasa America porache, anga ‘Stevia’ nnu oru natural chakkarai substitute en paiyan vaangi kuduthaan. Athu thaan use panren ippo. Oru 6 masathula oru thadavai vanthurum.

 ————————————————————————————————————

Mama 1: Neenga ‘With’ aa? Without’ aa??

Mama 2: Veetula ‘Without’! Veliyila ‘With’!

Mama 1: Athu yen appadi?

Mama 2: Veliyile ‘Without’ nna – konjam vayasu koodaraapla irukku.

Mama 1: Athanaala enna ippo? Health thane mukkiyam?

Mama 2: Health’ aa ? Neenga etha chollarel? Naan ‘pal set’ a patthi pesindu irukken!

Mama 1: Naasamaa pochu? Naan Kaapiya pathi ketten!!!!!

Aamaam, neenga With’ aa? Without’ aa???

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.

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”!!!