Category Archives: Food

Corona kaalathula kacheri season!

It is that time of the year when Carnatic music is in the air usually in Chennai. The end of December is when the season gets to its peak with Tambrahm mamas and mamis trying to schedule their days around the choice of Kacheris on offer. In my earlier article – Innikku Aaru Kacheri?” I had written about the buzz in a Tambrahm households during the season. If you haven’t read it earlier, please read here before proceeding further.  But this year, the “Season” buzz is missing due to the Corona after effects which are still lingering in the air.

I know of many mamas and mamis who make it a point to be in Chennai every December to enjoy the music season. And those who live in Chennai and do their annual or biennial visit to America to be with their sons and daughters usually make it a point to return to India before November. This serves three purposes. One, to escape the summer in India and be there. Two, return by Oct/November so as to escape the harsher winter in the US. Three, to be in Chennai for the music season.  To go a step further, there are mamas and mamis who drop a hint to their NRI sons and daughters to plan the pregnancies in such a way that the delivery will be around March to May time frame. By this, they can be of support to their children for six months during delivery and still come back in time for the margazhi music season!

This year though, the entire season has gone virtual with no live concerts but kacheris are being streamed into our homes. Of course this has left a lot of mamas and mamis utterly disappointed and despondent.  “Ennomo pa, music season la oru kacheri kooda poi kekka mudiyaama poyiduthu!” and accordingly the conversations this year have turned different. Like this:

Mama: Enna thaan virtual streaming naalum, oru live kacheri paatha madiri illai.

Mami: Ithaye ethara vaati chollindu iruppel? Etho intha situation’leyum kacheri kekka mudiyarathe… sandosha padungo! Aathuleye okkandhundu kekka mudiyaratho illiyo?

Mamis are always practical and tend to make do with what is available, you see.

Mama: Athu seri. Aanaalum, kacherila friends’a ellam meet panni, varthamaanam pesi, kacheriya analyse panra madiri varaathu.

Mami: Neenga analyse panrathu sabha canteen menu’nnu nanna theriyum!  Sabha’kku porathe canteenukku thaane. Ennoda friend Bhagiyam chonnale. “Ungaathu Mamava moonu naal sabha canteen la paathen” nu, pona vashe!

Mama: Neeyum thaan en kooda varaai, kacherikku. Oru Kaapi kudikarathoda seri!

Mami: Naan varaatha pothu, enna mezhukellam – bajji, bonda’nnu thinnundu iruppel! Cholesterol report paatha theriyarathe!

Mama: Seri atha vidu. Kacheri nerla kekkarache, raga alapanai pothu ragatha guess panrathula oru rasam. Inga virtual kacheri’ la first’e enna ragam’nnu pottudara…

Mami: (Mind voice) Aamaam, etho Semmangudi’yoda vaarisu madiri pesarathu…

Since it is all virtual, mamas don’t get to meet their friends and discuss about the kacheri etc…  This happens on the phone these days. Sample this:

Mama 1: Enna Ramachandran, neenga kacheri ellam kekkarela?

Mama 2: Virtual kacheri’nna free’ya thaane irukkanum. Ithukkum charge panraale? Aniyaayama irukku…  Nidhi Chala Sukhama’nnu ellarum paadarathoda sari.

Mama 1: Illai, virtual naalum avaalukku selavu irukke… Free’a pannina kattu padi aagathu…

Mama 2: Ticket’na vendaam. Intha varusham season’a skip pannidalaamnu irunthen. Paiyyan season pass pottu kuduthuttaan. “Yours truly Margazhi” la kacheri kettundu irukken.  By mistake avaa site la subscribe pannaama, YouTube la subscribe pannitaan! Nadu nadu vila ads’aa vanthu padutharathu!

Mama 1: Naanum season ticket vaangitten.  Paadaravaalukku minnala audience illaama paadarathu kashtam thaan.

Mama 2: Virtual enna puthusa? Minnadi ellam AIR leyum, Doordarshan leyum ippadi thaane kacheri pannindu irunthaa?

Mama 1: Athu correct thaan. Nethikku Sanjay Subramanyan kacheri kettela? Thodi RTP asathittaan!

Mama 2: Ketten ketten. Asaadhyama irunthathu!

Mama 1: Ippo vara youngsters’um nanna paadaraa… Ritvik Raja’nnu T.M.Krishna madiriye paadaraan.

Mama 2: Avan TMK oda sishyan’aache. Athe style. As expected, TMK oda kacheri Yours truly la illa. Avan thaniya Friends in Concert’nnu arrange panninaan. Oru Kacherikku 2500 Rs charge. Romba jaasthi. Athuvum Corona samayathula.

Mama 1: Naan TMK ‘oda kacheri kekarathaye niruthitten. He should talk less and focus on music. He should let his music do the talking.

Mama 2: I don’t agree with his views. Athanaala avan kacheri kekaratha niruthala. He is an exceptionally gifted singer, you see.

Mama 1: Athu correct… But he should not use his God given talent for insulting his own music fraternity! Ippo namma ethukku avana pathi discuss pannindu…?

Mama 2: Intha virtual kacheri’la oru irritation enna’nna nadu nadu vila link poyidarathu… Connectivity problem…

Mama 1: Enakku antha prachanai illa. Ambani zindabad. Jio connectivity nanna irukku. Innikku Ranjani Gayatri kacheri irukku. Eppadi irukkunu paarpom.  Virtual concert’ukku Voncert’nnu per kuduthirukaa.  Article padichelaa?

Mama 2: Padinoru manikku upload pannitaale… Naan kettuten. Ranjani Gayatri as usual very good. 

Mama 1: Sari – appo naanum kettudaren. Aamaam neenga chinna vayasula violin vaasipele… Ippo vaasikarathu undaa?

Mama 2: Wifu’kku aathula 2nd fiddle vaasikarathoda sari!

At the same time, mamis also have a different set of issues this year as can be inferred from their conversations.

Mami 1: Enna mami, eppadi irukkel? Kacheri ellam kekkarela?

Mami 2: Etho konjam konjam… Intha virtual season naala, namakku thaan vela jaasthi aayiduthu. Eppa paaru kaapi yum norukku theeniyum panni poda vendi irukku.  Anga Ragam Thanam Pallavi poyindu irukaracha inga murukku, thattai’nnu kadichu thinnuttu Ragam Thanam palvali’nnu paattu paadindu irukaar engaathu mama!

Mami 1: Aamamaam. Normal season’nna engaathu mama kaalangaarthaleye kilambi lecture, demonstration, kacheri’nnu ellam mudichuttu raathri thaan varuvaar. Aagaaram ellam sabha canteenleye nadakkum. Intha varusham veetuleye irunthu en pranana vaangaraar.

Mami 2: Etho advertisement varathe… Mylapore fine arts la canteen lenthu swiggy’la home delivery panraalaame… Try panninelaa?

Mami 2: Nethikku thaan try panninom. Tiffan ellam nanna irunthathu…

Mami 1: Appo naanum avar kitta sollideren. Enna venumo order pannikattum…

Mami 2: Nethikku Sudha Raghunathan kacheri ketten… Etho interest’e illaama paadara madiri irunthathu! Nanna thaan paadina…

Mami 1: Inime thaan samayal kattula vela koraiyume… Okkanthu kekkaren.

Mami 2: Ongathula entha site’la kacheri kekkarel?  Intha link, antha linku’nnu ore confusion’aa irukku…

Mami 1: Engathula antha Music Academy season pass eduthirukom. Etho adutha varshamaavathu intha Corona ellam illama direct’a Samajavaragamana kekka mudinja sari!

Mami 2: Correct. But, season’a cancel pannaama kacheri ellam konjam kekka mudinjuthe.

Pic Courtesy: The Hindu

Corona mudinju 1st Kalyanam!

It’s been almost six months now since Corona struck India. This also means that its six months since most of us attended any kalyanam, kaarthi in person. For Tambrahm mamas and mamis, it is a record which they would never like to boast of or want to repeat.  So hearing laments like these are common these days during phone conversations:

“Oru kalyanama? Kaarthiyaa? Corona vanthaalum vanthuthu, aathuleye adanju kidanthindu irukkom!”

“Antha pachai gopura border podavai puthusa vaangi vechen. Use panrathukku chance’e illama poyiduthu!

“Bank locker la irukara pandam ellam use panni maasangal aagarathu”

 “Oru vaaikku rujiyaa saddhi chappttu etthara kaalam aayaachu…?” (This of course is mama’s mind voice)

For most mamas and mamis who are retired and are now in the senior citizen bracket and mostly living alone, aathu functions are the only avenue to socialise, meet people and re-charge!  That joy has been deprived now, thanks to Corona.

In the meantime, some of them did get the experience of attending Kalyanams, Seemandhams Aandu niravus etc On line through live streaming/Zoom… I had written about the same in my earlier post – “Aathu vishesham over Zoom!” If you have not read it, please do read the same hereEppadi mute panrathu, eppo video’va cut panrathu, entha angle’ la phone vekarathu, Eppadi correct’a camera’va paathu atchathai podarathu… ippadi elllam athu padi.

“Enna thaan live streaming aanaalum, nera attend panni, ellarayum meet panni, vambu pesindu, nalla saddhiyum chapattu vantha madiri varuma?” All mamas and mamis are desperate to attend a family function in person once the corona is dead and gone.

So, what will happen post Corona and life gets back to normal (whenever that is), in all Tambrahm families when the 1stkalyanam happens? This post is a chinna karpanai about that.

First of all, the 1st kalyanam in the family post corona will have a huge attendance as everyone will use the opportunity to attend that wedding. Aachanukku peechaan, madanikku udapiranthaannu ellarum varuvaa to bless the couple.  Caterer kitta oru 25 -30% number normal’a vida yethi chollanam. Return gift ellam konjam jaasthi vaangi vechukanam. Hall’e konjam perisaa paakanam.  Overall budget konjam jaasthi plan pannikanum!

And some of the scenes and conversations at the venue (say in Cochin) be like:

Mama 1: Vaango vaango! Ippo thaan corona ellam illiye. Katti pidichundu welcome pannalaam. Vaango! Nera appadiye poi kaapi kazhinchudungo!

Mama2: Aamamaam. Namma Kochi Mani yoda, kaapi kudichu etthara naal aachu. Athukapparam thaan ellam!

 Mami1: Vaango Vaango Mami. Mask’oda vanthirukkel. Ethukku ippo mask ellam? Athu thaan Corona ellam aayache?

Mami2: Illa irukkara podavaikku ellaam matching’a blouse oda, mask ayum thechu vechundiruken. Use pannalaamennu thaan! Apparam innamum konjam jaakrathaiya irukarathu nallathu thaane. Naan kayila oru sanitiser bottle’um vechundu irukken!

Mami1: Minna ellam, intha America returned aal kaara thaan kayila sanitiser bottle vechuppa India varathha. Ippo intha Corona naale namma ellarum vechukum padiya aayidithu!

Mama1: 10 maasam kazhinju oru kalyanam attend panrathu ennakku record aakkum.

Mama2: Naan ennoda marumaan’oda pullai’yoda kalyanam attend panninen. Corona samayathileye panneutta.  Naanga oru 50 per mattum irunthom.

Mama1: Entrance’la panneerukku bathilaa sanitiser thelichurupaale? (Laughs to his own joke)

Mama2: Ellarukkum kaiyila oru bottle sanitiser kuduthutta. Ennakku Veshti Thundukku bathila Vashti, Mask kadachuthu! Hall’a normal’a starters serve panrathukku 10 per chuthindu iruppaale… athu madiri sanitiser vechindu oru 5 per hall’a chutthi chutthi vanthindu irunthaa! 

Mama1: Enna Rajamani? Innikku kalyanathoda live streaming unda??

Mama2: Athu thaan. Ellarum nera varalaame. Apparaum ethukku antha chelavu?

Mama1: Illa, Coronakku apparum athu oru fashion. Kozhanthaikku kaapu katarathuna kooda, FB Live, Live streaming’nnu aayiduthu! 

Mama1: Unakku therinjutho lliyo. Namma Kolankarai Ramachan paavam Corona’vila poyittaan.

Mama2: News Kidachuthu. Avanakku matha complaint ethavathu irunthutho?

Mama1: Avanukku vayasu 50 thaan. Namma ellam thapichom. Antha Guruvurappan thaan kaapathinaan.

Mama1: Apparam ennikku palakkadukku return? Innikevaa?

Mama2: Illai. Naan ingirunthu Mankombukku poi, ellaraiyum paathuttu, kovilla nerchai ellam mudichuttu 4 nalaikku apparam thaan return. Ernakulam varaikum vanthathukku, ellathayum cover pannalaam illiya. Neenga eppo return Bangalore’ukku?

Mama1: US lenthu en periya payyan family’oda vanthirukkaan. Avaalukku Kumarakom paakanumaam. Resort yetho book panni irukka. Anga oru 2 night irunthuttu apparam return.

Mama2: Kumarakom ippo world famous aayaachu! Namma kutti kaalathula antha vazhiyaa ethhara thonai poyirukkom chumma? Ippo ennadanna…

Mama1: Antha Arundathi Roy oda book vanthathilirunthu Kumarakom famous aayiduthu.

Mama2: Yei.. Aval oru verum naxal’aakkum. Vajpayee vanthu ponapparum thaan Kumarakom famous aachu. Namma naatukku BJP thaan laayakku. Ippo Modiya paarungo. Corona vukku apparum Chinese Apps’ukkellam Aapadichu vechirukkaar.

Mama1: Correct. Modi panninathu thaan correct. Naan Made in China vaangaratheye niruthuetten.

Mama2: Intha lockdown samayuthula, aatha perukka oru Vacuum Cleaner vaanganama irunthathu. Made in India vaa illattiyum Made in China’va vaangalaye! 

Because of the lockdown and all, Tambrahm Mamas didn’t get the opportunity to discuss about politics in the last so many months. So it is natural that when they got the chance, the discussions would veer around Indian politics.

Of course Mamas whose sons and or daughters lived in the US and who were lucky to return just before Covid, were happy to discuss about Trump re-election and of course namma Kamala (Harris)

Mama1: Naan Madras’la irukarathha, Besant Nagar la Kamalavoda thatha Gopalanai naan paathirukken. Naanga ore kadaila thaan maligai saamaan ellam vaanguvom.  Apparam naanga ore Sabha la member. Kacheri la ellam paathirukken.

Mama2: Avaa amma oru Hari’yaa paathu kalyanam panni iruntha, Kamala Hari’nnu peru vanthirukkum. But ava Non-Veg aakkum.

Mama1: Joe Biden jayichuttaana, oru vela, Besant Nagar’ukku avanai kootindu vanthaalum varuvaa! 

Mama1: Nadaswaram aaru? Nanna vaasikiraan.

Mama2: Local party thaan. Intha kriti enna ragam? Corona thaane? I mean Atana thaane?

Mama1: Enna oi? Corona nyabagam’aave irukkel? 

Mama1: Vadhyaar Palakkad lenthu vanthirukaarame? Train la vanthaara illa Helicopter’leya?

Mama2: Athu Corona samayathula naala. Enakku antha payyanoda family’a theriyum. Athuvum Suhas Vaadhyar chumma pose thaan kuduthaar helicopter minnala ninnundu.

Mama1: Chumma oru jokukaga ketten.

Mama2: But aana, US la namma oru vaadhyar Chopper service vechu nadathindu irukkaarnnu Whatsup la padichen. 

Can Mamis be left behind in the conversations and they be like:

Mami1: Enna Saratha? Mattuponukku ethavathu good news unda?

Mami2: Intha lockdown samayathula ethavathu good news varumnnu ethir patthen. Onnum varalai. Intha varshamnnu Josiyar cholli irukkaar. Paakalaam.

Mami1: Ambalapuzhaikku mudinja kootindu po rendu peraiyum. 

Mami1: Enna, ponnoda Jathakam eduthachaame? Ponnu avale yaaraiyum choose pannalaya?

Mami2: Panni iruntha thevalaye. Neengale paarungonnu cholluetta. Ithu oru periya thala vali. Romba conditions vera. Ithu vendam, athu vendamnnu!

Ethavathu nalla varan iruntha chollungo.

Mami1: Local’aa illa America vaa paakarela?

Mami1: Ava ippo Detroit la irukka. Americannu thaan solluetta.

Mami2: Seri, ethavathu varan kidacha chollaren.  Avasarama irunthaa Elite Matrimony la pottu paarungo.

And the group photo session be like:

Photographer: Ellarum konjam close’aa nillungo. Ippo Corona’kku ellam bayapada vendiyathu illai.

Mama1: Enna Ganapathy, photokku varaama ippadi 6 adi thalli ninna eppadi? Social distancing’aa? 

Aren’t you also eager and desperate to attend that 1st kalyanam in the family?

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

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???

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!

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”!!!

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!”

Innikku Menu Enna?

If there is one question which pisses off a normally calm and cool Tambrahm Mami particularly in a weekend, that is “Innikku menu enna?” (Of course I am referring to households where the Mami still holds the fort in the kitchen and not where the kitchen duties have been outsourced). Because she knows that whatever be the answer to that question, it will be met with one standard response from the rest of the family – the Mama and the kids. Which is – Innikum athevaaa??? In Tambrahm households, apart from Narayana, Guruvayurappa the other phrase which kids are most exposed to is Innikkum athevaaa???

Mamikku thaan theriyum how difficult it is to give a satisfactory answer to the Innikku menu enna question. The answer to the question regarding the day’s menu usually comes from the Mami after solving a complex algorithmic problem in her mind which involves many variables like:

 Availability of vegetables at home that day

 Availability of other raw material/provisions,..

 Time available that day (considering it’s a weekend and any outing plan)

 Weather (Hotter the outside temperature, simpler will be the menu)

 Veetula annikku ethaavathu guests undaa?

 Repetitive quotient. (Menu y’day, day before y’day, same day last week,..)

 What Panjangam says for that day – Any Ammavasai, Ekadasi, Pradosham,…

 Any new cooking program seen on TV/Recipe video viewed on Facebook/YouTube/fwd of some new recipe received thro WhatsApp

 Any recent taunts from kids. Usually the conversation will go something like this.

o Kid: “Amma, nethikku Ravi aathukku ponnenliya. Anga Aunty oru side dish kudutha paaru, romba tastyaa irunthuthu.

o Mami: Enna periya side dish panni kudutha?

o Kid: Yetho Saagu appadi yetho per sonna, aunty

o Mami: Dei, Pona vaaram Rava idlikku naan panni kuduthene unakku Saagu??? Nyabagam illiyaa???

 Any recent pollappu from Mama.

o Mama: Intha aathula oru Vatha Kozhambu chaaptu romba naalachu. Naal illa, maasangal aachu!

o Mami: Enna neenga, rendu vaaram minnadi, dabba la kuduthu anupichene? Maranthaacha??

o Mama: Oh, athu Vatha Kozhambaa?? Kaara Kozhambunnu nenaichen. Enga amma Vatha Kuzhambu appadi panna maatta.

(Here imagine Background music of a Steel sombu falling in the floor and noise of thunder in the background)

(Now Mama is pushing his luck and treading dangerous territory with this comment. The scene in the house in the after math of this comment – I leave it to your imagination. Mostly Mama would be depending upon Sangeetha/Saravana Bhavan types for rest of the day)
o Mami: Unga ammavaye samachu poda chollungo!

 And finally mood of the Mami that day when she woke up!!!

So it’s but natural that Mamis get irritated when having decided the menu after solving such a complex equation are faced with the usual Innikkum Atheva comment!!!

Intelligent Mamis get around this by different ways. For Example,

1. By making the Mama cut vegetables on the weekend. Neenga enna narukki tharelo, athukku ethha madiri thaan menu irukkum. So the ball or rather menu is lobbed to Mama’s court.

2. Apply Nanu mama’s 5th law of cooking. Which is ‘When in a dilemma on menu, do what the British taught us – “Divide and Rule”. Ask the family members themselves to suggest the menu. Usually no two person’s choice of menu matches within the family. You can then decide on your own menu based on your above complex algorithm and move on.

I am talking all this in the context of our previous and probably current generation. In the GenNext Tambrahm households empowered and emboldened by the IT revolution the situation is different. On weekends before answering the Innikku Enna Menu question, there is a more fundamental question and issue to address. Which is what to do for food that day!! In the morning while having the morning cuppa of filter coffee, the couple have to decide based on the following choices regarding their food:

1. Outside – Outside: This means go out and have food in a restaurant

2. Outside – Inside: Order food from outside and have at home

3. Inside – Outside: Make food at home and eat out (Picnic/Potluck party,…)

4. Inside – Inside: Make at home and eat at home

While and 1 and 2 are the most common these days, 3rd is getting popular particularly with NRIs and “Expat Returns” and 4th is rare and resorted to if either of the couple or both or the kid is not keeping well!!!

So in the above framework, if the husband asks the question – Innikku menu enna??? the answer from the wife usually is
Time 8 thaane aagarathu. 10 mani aagattum. Saravana Bhavan open pannina odane kettu solren!!
Or
Why are you asking me? Antha “Menus folder” a paathu neeye decide pannikko!!
Or
Whatever you want, tell the bhai. She will make it for you!!!
Or
Adhaan Appa, Amma veettu pakkathile veedu vaangindu okkanthindu irukkele. Appadiye Anga poi chaptukongo! Amma payyanukku ketta thellam panni tharuva!!!
Or
Innikku weekend aache! For a change why don’t you cook??? (Husbandukku endaappa kelviya kettomnu irukkum!!!)
So the next time Innikku Menu Enna question comes to your mind, manasileye vechukongo!!!