Tag Archives: Tambrahms

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?

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!

An Idli a Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Innikku aaru Kacheri?

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

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

Mama: Suppudu antha kaalathula Seshagopalana “Seshtagopalan” nnu solluvaar! Athu madiri, Arun ippo Seshta Arun!!!

 

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

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

Mama 1: Intha varusham season la seniors ellam konjam missing!

Mama 2: Illiye, ellarum irukaale!

Mama 1: Illa saar, Whatsup la paakalaya? Intha varusham Mountbatten Mani, Pattappa ellam kidayaatham!

Mama 2: Oh, neenga canteen pathi solrela????

Mama: Visalam, naan kacherikku poyuitttu varen.

Mami : Entha sabha?

Mama : “Parthsarthswamsabha” thaan!

Mami: Bajji, Bonda, thavala vada nnu vayatha nirapikaantheengo. Cholesterol erkanave jaasthi!

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————————————————-

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

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

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

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

Mama1: Athu antha kaalam. Ippo thaan Jio irukke!

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

Paper Vandhaacha?

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Mama is at his irritable best those mornings.

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

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

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

Mami: “Kaalangaarthala paper padichathu poraatha??”

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

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

Mami: “Unakku ithellam manaslaagaathu!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Aamaaam, innikku ungaathula paper vandhaacha???”

Deepavali vanthaachu!

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

Like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mami: “You decide!”

Mama: “Baadusha?”

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

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

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

Mama: “Intha varushamum Thenga Barfiyaa???”

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

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

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

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

Mami: “You said something?”

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

And the Diwali day comes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mama: “No. Naan taste pannala!”

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

Mama: “O.K, O.K. Let me taste this.”

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

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

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

2. “Eppadi irukku taste? Nanna vanthurukka?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Deepavali!”

Engaathu Golu!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mama: Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan theme la panninaa enna?

Mami: Modi Bhakt nnu ellaarum ninaika poraa!

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

Mami: Rendu varsham munnai idha dhane panninom, maranthutela?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Navarathri! Ongaathu Golu readya?

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!!!

The Rasam Conflict!

Akin to many unresolved conflicts in the world if there is one among Tambrahms – it is the Rasam Conflict! I.e if Rasam has to be consumed “theliva” or “elakki / kalakki.” And as far as I know the Tambrahm race is split down in the middle on this one! In every family there are those who prefer Rasam only as “thelivu” and others who want it “elakki”! It is almost difficult to fathom what drives this choice.

In a family with 2 kids – it is not surprising to have one preferring “thelivu” and the other “elakina” rasam. Thereby giving opportunity for some cheeky mamas to quip – “Oh ivan Appa Ramendran mela poyirukkaan. Rendamathavan, Amma Paarukutty mela poyirukaan – Ava madiriye elakki thaan Rasam kudikaraan!! – So it may appear that this Rasam preference is something conveyed through the DNA strands or so I thought until I saw a family where both the parents preferred their ‘Thelivu” Rasam while the kids wanted Rasam the other way.

In those days mamas who wanted their Rasam thelivaa would get hyper if served with nalla elakina Rasam! “Enakku rasam thelivaa thaan venam. Intha Kuppai yoda rasathai kottathe!” By the way what he referred as “kuppai” are actually part of the ingredients that transform hot “puli thanni” into Rasam – Paruppu, karuveppalai, and the works!! “Enna mama, Kuppainnu solrel. Paruppu vikkara velaila???” normally falls in deaf ears.

Ushaaraana mamis (by the way most Tambrahm mamis are) when having guests at home, make it a point to ask each guest their preference 1st. “Rasam ungalukku thelivaa vidava illa elakki vidava”?? So that the dining table doesn’t become a Kurukshetramshortly. The problem comes when the choice alternates between elakki and thelivu from one guest to another. Because once the Rasam is elakufied then you have to give it some time to settle down before serving to the next person who wants it thelivaa!!!

The problem usually is amplified when the Rasam made for lunch in the morning is carried forward to the evening for dinner. Because by that time the qty of Rasam is diminished to the extent that it becomes difficult to separate the Thelivu!!! Of course in which case the time tested formula for dilution and thinning of the Rasam by adding hot water and garnishing with some Rasam powder comes into play!!!
In the households of young couples, this conflict is less I believe. Because if the husband insists on one type of Rasam,.. the answer usually is, “Dei, naan inga Rasam panrathe perisu. Onaku thelivu kekkaratha??? If you want then call up Saravana Bhavan and order the Rasam by your specification and drink!” And the husband usually surrenders with,”Ammadi, nee enna Rasam venna pannu. Panninaa sari!
And then there are those Rasam drinking connoisseurs who say, “Mami, Rasatha thelivaa oru tumblerla kuduthudungo. Apparam elaila nanna kalakki vidungo!”

Our Nanu mama has a very practical solution to address this problem. Which is to take out Thelivu Rasam in a separate paathiram as soon as the Rasam is prepared. Which is his 4th law of cooking. For every bowl of thelivu Rasam, you should have an equal bowl of elakkina Rasam!!! So that you can serve easily as per choice of people!!! The only flip side is if both the Rasams minjufy and have to be carried forward, one has to find space for 2 vessels instead of one inside the fridge!!!

Kaineettam Collection Time!

“Konthey, onnu ezhunthuko! Innaiku Vishu aakkum! Appidiye kanna moodindu, paathu vaa!” The moment the wife utters these lines today morning even as early as 5’0 clock, I am certain that our 10 year old daughter will wake up like a robot instantly and start walking. This is unlike the other days where virtually we have to cook up different stories like “Konthey, innaiku schoola film kaatara, get up and get ready quickly or cheekiram ezhunthiru – picnickku late aayidum or dance period irukke innaikku, ezhunthuko,…,… Basically all stories not related to studies! Athe samayam, leavu naalna oorukku minnnaadiye ezhunthuduva. But today as she wakes up and we guide her to the Swami ullu with her eyes closed, she is all full of excitement and enthusiasm. For soon, she will get a few currency notes as Vishu Kaineetam from her Appa and Amma. After the Kani Kaanal is over as I hand over a crisp 500 rupee note to her with blessings, the immediate response is “Ennappa, only 500 Rupees this year also??”

(Now here imagine some cloud kind of thing swirling over my head as I flash back to the Vishu day of my childhood – somewhere in the 70’s)

In Tamil Nadu where I was brought up, Vishu was observed only by Tambrahms of the Palakkad/Kerala Iyer origin. So it’s a day of one-upmanship among friends who didn’t observe Vishu. “Enakku engappa/amma naalaikku naraya kaasu tharuvaale!!!” – kinda stuff. The previous day while we go to sleep, Amma/Appa would set up the Vishu Kani in the night. We can hear murmurs of “Onnoda necklace vei, Ongaloda modhiratha first kazhatungo,..,…” emanating from the Pooja muri. In the early morning usually around 5, Amma would wake us up – “Konthey, onnu ezhunthuko! Innaiku Vishu aakkum! Appidiye kanna moodindu, paathu vaa!” Though we did this year after year, there used to be a sense of palpable excitement as we slowly walked with eyes closed towards the Pooja room and opened the eyes in front of the Vishu Kani! In half sleep mode, generally we went thro the motions of what we were asked to do like worshipping and smelling the Mambazham, Apple,… At the end of it Appa would remove a new crisp 5 rupee note from the silver thaambaalam kept in the Kani and hand over the same to each of us as Vishu Kaineetam. The only day we get to receive money as Kaineetam from Appa. The other days usually Appa’s kai neelum with kuchi. For some silly mistake in the Maths paper or grammar mistake in English paper,… Once we get that in hand, we used to do a shastaanga namaskaaram usually without the abhivadaye in that thookapichu mode!!! And then it’s the turn of the Amma to give a shining 2 rupee coin as her kaineetam. Again a namaskaram ensued. Between the 3 siblings there used to be a competition to olichu vechufy the money from one another. That 7 rupees was equivalent to probably 700 Rs of today enough to float in Cloud 9 for few weeks!!!

Usually Vishu day is a day where we as kids used to have collection targets!! Among kuttigal – “onakku etharai kedachuthu?? Enakku 55 Rs kedachuthu” types. Vishu day or even a few days in the vicinity, if you meet some elderly mama he is supposed to give you some Vishu Kaineetam. So that day even Nanu athimber whom we generally avoid to escape his serial questions, is a welcome entity! Naangale poi avar kaala vizhunthu avar kekara kelvikellam badhil cholliduvom. Just to get the Vishu Kaineetam of 1 Rupee! Similarly we never used to spare the neighbourhood mamas who were from Palakkad. Remember vividly one mama who used to go on a nostalgic trip every year when we went to meet him on Vishu. – “Noorani la Vishu annaikku enna pramadama irukkum theriyumo??” He used to ignore our “Theriyume mama. Pona Varusham thaan chonnele” and continue to labour his Noorani stories. For us it was a small price to pay to maximize our kaineetam collections!!

We usually pray in advance to have some relatives at home during Vishu. And since Vishu is usually in April during summer vacations, some mama, chittappa, athai,.. used to be there. And after Vishu when we used to visit our “Native place” – Kerala for summer vacation every year, the Kaineetam collection obsession continued. Whenever we used to visit our relatives place, before even anybody says something we used to do a namaskaram of the Thatha/mama/chittappa/periappa/Athimber,.. That was the cue for them to open their purses. Some wouldn’t resist the urge to take a dig at us – “Ennada, enna paathale oduvaai. Innaikku vizhunthu vizhunthu namaskaram panraai?? But happily would hand us over our due. So by the time we return to our base after vacation we all became flush with cash. While these are etched in memory can’t remember what we did with that money or where the money vanished???

The nearby Ayyappa temple which was managed in Kerala style with Namboodiris,.. used to distribute Kaineetam on Vishu day to all for which there used to be a long line. After 2 years, they introduced a special line for senior citizens supposedly to give some relief to elders. It so happened the normal line got shorter and the special senior citizen line continued to be long!!! So as children we used to get on to the normal line and collect our Kaineetam quickly!!!

As we celebrate yet another Vishu today, it’s great that we are able to maintain the Vishu and the associated Kani Kaanal and Kaineetam tradition even to this day! But just wondering with all this drive towards reducing cash transactions and increasing digital payments post demonetization,.. kaineetamum thro some App – digital aayidumo?

On that note, wish you all a very happy Vishu!!! “Kaineetathai online la anupichudungo!!!”