Thursday, May 29

Koozhu Time...!!!

“Kozhande….. Inge vandu enaku help panuda (Kiddo..Come help me dear)”, screamed my mom. I was in my usual deep slumber and mumbled back a no to her. “Di..unga amma koopdra..po! Somberi kada!(Oye! Your mother is calling…run)”..that was my granny expecting me to go help. Ha! Sleep is more important.“Vethhal podrendi…seekram vaa(Am making Vethhal..come fast!)”. Magical words that woke me up!

Vethhals are actually papads in Tambram version; made out of this gooey stuff called Koozhu and is a basically a composition of mashed rice and something that makes it heavenly. Now, I would’ve given you the recipe, but am totally clueless about what happens in a kitchen and hence, I wouldn’t be helping you.

This is one of the many compulsory phases that would happen in most of the tambram families during summer. During the month of mar-apr, it would be MaavuDu/ MaagaLi mania. My granny would start being more active in the house, waiting for the sound of the hawker on the road to scream MaavuDu. There used to be a pressure between my granny and her sisters as to who would make MaavuDu pickle first. The first one who to do so, makes it a point to distribute one jaaDi to all the relatives just to show off her maavuDu making prowess. After the maavuDu saga gets over, it would be time for MaagaLi(Sarsaparilla Root). Another variety of pickle, it’s actually a plants root and has a very disgusting stench. I made a mistake of once offering to help my granny to cut those roots, only to end up with an unbearable stench around myself. Even after that pickle is made, it doesn’t drop its scent. I still remember my classmates running away from me whenever I used to bring it for lunch.

Coming back to koozhu, the whole process of it getting transformed into vethal itself is an art. I just love it when my granny takes it out when it is hot from the cooker, and gives it to me in a kiNNi. Yumm. The men of the house have just one task- to transport the koozhu utensils to the moTTa maaDi. The kids of the house have to keep the leering crows away from the koozhu; also at times, would be armed with a hand fan to drive away possible terrors like “e’s”. But, mostly they would end up sharing their loot with the crows, which would be followed with a “Endi en pranana vaangara??!!” session with the moms. The transformation in itself normally takes up to a week until it dries to becomes a vethhal. Again, this also has a good time frame competition between maamis; but, this would be based on how many actually survived from our lootings!

Just the one thought of having a meal with all the three sends me to bliss. Maybe I should try learning the recipes. Paati…Here I Come!!

Thursday, May 22

Maami Times

Dedicated to

People who were perplexed by the weird sounding words in the blog

Maami- A matriarchal figure, noticed most importantly in TamBram functions waiting for minuscule opportunities to hatch up thayir sadam looking boys with the opposite sex. Normally seen with a list of jadagams which have candidates in categories for Thengalai, Vadagalai, US- Return, BE-MS, Ph D etc,.

Pettai- Suffix used after names of the different areas in Chennai. For eg: Saidapettai, Korukupettai.

Thayir saadam- A reference generally used for kids in TamBram families. Derived from the fact that it consists a large percentage of kids who excelled in studies and are not compatible for socialized flirting and dating. They are also found to be more family oriented and generally are very innocent and naïve.

Oppuku chapaani- Refers to those who are the one of the last to get picked up for a game- either because of their incompetencies or just for the heck of it

Erumamaadus- Representing a major portion of wildlife of C.Pettai. Are referred to in English as Buffalos. Notably found at swampy and marshy areas and are known to move in herds of 50. Major achievement- Have successfully formed a choir group called “Pettai Raps”. Concerts have been held all across C.Pettai and the band is quite famous around Chennai. Concerts are normally held in the middle of the roads and much to the delight of its fan following, has a free entry.

Veera Sagasangal- loosely translates to “The Amazing Brave Adventures”

TamBram- A clan that I think originated from the kavery delta and one which brags about being the most intelligent of all human kind. Fellow TamBrams include the confused kid from Blore and the Creator of Darth Vaadiyar.

Porikkis- The handsome guys of the city of Chennai who believe themselves to have mastered the art of flirting and imagine themselves to be drop dead gorgeous. Fact has its own version and hence, we shall leave it at that.

Aambalakamaakashi- Usually refers to women, who chose to wear trousers instead of half- sarees, did not believe in oiling the hair and most importantly, did not bother to learn cooking.

Thengalai, vadakalai- Outgrowth from TamBram. Though it isn't all, the heirarchy shall be explained at a later stage

Jadagams- That sheet of paper which decides the fate of a thayir saadam kid; to, which, whom, where, he/she shall be married off to.

Adakkam, Odukkam and Naanam- The three main ingredients required for manufacturing a perfect maami; refers to just one meaning though- a silent, petite and innocent girl

Somberi Kada- Word that is used to compare me with a sloth. Not only confined to me. Can be referred to any Tambram who wakes up after 7 AM.

Vethhal- Tambram version of Papad/ Indian Crackers

MaavuDu- Small mangoes; used for making pickles. You get them during the start of the Mango season

MaagaLi- Sarsaparilla Root; Hardly made nowadays mainly due to lovable stench that could drive away our neighbor mad

MoTTa MaaDi- Terrace; don't ask why is it called MoTTa!!

E- A venerable companion of our C.pettai erumamaadus; are minuscule and tend to be very annoying. They are referred as the “Fly”. PS: A friend of mine pointed out that when a ‘E’ sits on you, it shits; Don’t know how far this is true…!!

Paati- The main terror of our household a.k.a my granny. To write about her would drive me mad. But, ah, she will always be my darling!

JaaDi- That porcelain dish used for storing Pickles

PS: Will be updated on a regular basis on further posts.

Tuesday, May 20

Maami Saagasangal Part II

Hmm…Considering people could stand that tripe…I might as well continue to the next part!!

After a couple of similar disasters, my dad had gotten fed up of paying to the rants of RDX’s owner and got me my first bike. This was around the time I had learnt cycling better and I was glad that my dad hadn’t gotten me those stupid, girly LadyBird bikes. Maybe he had intuitions that I would be the future rebel of the family, he got me a “streetkat”. Now, this bike came with a conditional warranty that it should never be ridden by girls who could fall into the categories of adakkam, odukkam and naanam and conveniently, I’ve never bothered to even get near those terms!! The only glaring part was the stupid basket in front of it. “Schoolku lunch box eduthu ponumilada…adaan poda chonnen!” explained my mom. But the maximum work tat basket ever did was to transfer maangais and thengais between the neighbourhood houses. Very soon, everybody in C.pettai used to recognize that it was my bike in the street due to weird sounds my brakes used to hmake and most importantly, the way I used to pedal. Yes…I used to monkey pedal which also helped in me getting a huge following of maamis in my gossiping about how I will never be getting married in the future. But what they never understood was that the bike was very heavy and you needed to put your full energy to ride it. I never used to bother about the gossips until the news reached my parents. My dad was all for it “You ride however you want da kanna”. That didn’t stop from getting myself branded as “Aambalakaamakshi” by my granny, or the publicity that she made out of it. News traveled far and wide, and soon my perippa and perima called me up from Hyderabad to enquire about it!! Gradually, my granny gave up on me and I continued riding around the streets of C.Pettai. I used to make sure that I ignored the street behind the Pettai temple as I was still scared that the erumamaadu episode might repeat.

Years trickled by, I grew older; grew, more in terms of girth rather than height. I never even bothered about it until the day came when I stared weighing more than my cycle. Ironically, I also joined a new school for my higher secondary which had a very traditional uniform that made me look like a clown when I rode the bike. Soon, my cycle was starting to get neglected and it attained its old age. I couldn’t bear to see it dying, so, I asked my dad to sell it off. When I finished my school and got into college, my dad thought it was right time to buy a two-wheeler. “Why?”, I asked “I could still get back my cycle and use it”. He didn’t want to point out my bloated status, and just replied back saying that he is getting me a bike so that it would be convenient for travel. So, the next week, my house welcomed the “Scooty”. My sister was doing her higher studies out of town, so, I missed the chances of fighting over it with her. But, my adventures were endless.

There was this phase when I started eyeing my dad’s antique bike, a TVS Suzuki. I used to wait for dad to get back from office and flick his keys as he used to love his vehicle a lot. Though, all I could do was just kick-start the bike, oblivious to the fact that it had a gear. My dad noticed my futile attempts and offered me to teach his bike. This included a lot more gaalis from my grandmom and her saga of how badly I have ruined her name and reputation in the neighborhood. Thus started the hopelessly bad teaching sessions by my dad, which was culminated into “burn tending sessions” by my mom. But I didn’t give up. There have been a couple of times when I had sneaked out with the bike. Those times, I used to practice behind the pettai temple, for I was sure that my dad woundn’t bother searching there (I stationed look-outs for tentative erumamaadu runnings). During one of these occasions, I did some mess up with the clutch and the bike stopped. I didn’t know what the issue was with it, and so, started pushing the bike all along. I reached home after a 3 km trek, only to find my dad fuming about my in-competency in handling the bike and that I broke it down. Apparently, one out of my innumerable cousins had pottu kuduthufyed to my dad. That was the last time my dad ever let me go near the vehicle.

Sigh!! I had gotten used to my Scooty by this time and did not feel let down about the restriction. Not that the relationship with my scooty improved. Once, I and my dad had gotten to the market to get the usual kaikari for mom. I happened to lose control of bike and fall down. Little did I know that my dad had reserved his vengeance for repairing his bike. The moment I fell down with bike, the sweetheart that he is, he didn’t bother picking me up, but chose to look and laugh at me! I grumbled and somehow steadied myself. Back home, he gave the wonderful explanation that since, I was a girl, anybody would’ve helped me out and that it wouldn’t have been so if he had fell down. And worse, I ended up suffering from a huge boil as the stupid silencer had fell rite on my leg. Sniff! I have never seen my dad much happier. So much for ruining his bike….I still have the marks!!!!

No no…it doesn’t end here. There shall be another torturous session on my Car driving…he he…till then…d byes….

PS: Will soon start a glossary for the weird tamil words.

Sunday, May 18


Time: 1.30 PM

Venue: Office Cafeteria

Lunch was the time when we used to get the chance to watch TV. The elections results were about to be announced that day and we were glued to our seats. Beep..Intermission. We took a break discussing who might get elected when the Ad started running.

Simple Steps to learn Tamil

Vaango means Welcome
Okkarungo means Sit
Pongo means Leave

Try Bingo, No Confusion, Great Combination…Boinggg!!!

That was the first time I happened to see that advertisement and was not expecting the sniggers from my colleagues. The concept of the product was a hit but so was not the case with me. The next couple of days, my hellos and good mornings were replied with helpings of vaango, pongo and Okarungo followed by meaningless guffaws.

And this wasn’t new to me. Whenever I get myself introduced as a Chennaiite, I would see a sly grin flashing for a micro-second. By the time I get acquainted, I would be barged with irrelevant question about Chennai and Tamilnadu.

What made me write this post….Just to make my point clear, I, personally do not hate people from the other states of India, but its just that their tendencies towards people from Chennai is…set which I wanted to clear out. The pre assumptions which are made before actually knowing the city are very much bizarre. Here’s a set of help manual I’ve tried consolidating over the years of tiresome explanations to my collegemates and colleagues.

Food: No, our cuisines don’t stop with Idly, Sambhar and Rice. We also consume roti, dal and all the other Indian cuisines. Here's an insight on Tamil cuisine- Our Chettinad and Thanjavur food varieties are amazingly yummy and I would suggest it to everybody. Yes, it does have a lot of rice, but then…isn’t it the staple food… J And a request, please try avoiding pronouncing Sambhar as Sambherrr.

Film: Yes, We worship Rajini. We also watch movies “First day, first show”. Movie isn’t just entertainment for us…its more of a cult religion which is a daily part of our lives. As to the forwards which we usually get (e.g.: the hero deflecting the bullet from the gun), it’s not always true that our movies defy logic. It just adds to the masala content to pep up the mass. Movies like Nayagan and Kannathil Muthamittal are exemplary pictures which need no explanations.

Language and Culture: I guess this topic might take a long time. There are many wrong facts that have floated around which I thought needs to be cleared out. Chennaiites, for a fact, also are aware of other languages and give as much respect. I also defer to statements like “Chennai is very difficult for people from other states”. It is all in people’s mindset to accept or not to accept a different culture. If it helps, Chennai has a large settlement of people settled from Kerala, Rajasthan, and Gujarat etc. There’s an area called Sowcarpet where you can find a huge chain of Gujarati settlement. And Nungambakkam has an equally huge settlement of Rajasthanis. The state itself is conservative in terms of fashion and glamour. Yet again, its not that there isn’t any night life. It’s just that people here prefer to take an early nightcap than what you normally expect. Autowalas in Chennai are notoriously expensive which is something that I would agree on. But otherwise, I’ve known people from other states and countries who have learned to love this state for what it is and aren’t willing to part.

Climate: Well…this is one thing that people keep complaining about and something which turns me off. Yes, it is hot. And yes..very much humid. But that’s how it is…. almost all through the year. I would suggest people to stop commenting on that and rather make an effort to put up with it and start enjoying it.

I am not trying to say Chennai is the best, but trying to point out that Chennai is not as bad as people presume. Every city has its own glories and misgivings. It is up to us to accept or not accept to the changes around us and make it a better place to live in. Hope I’ve made my point without being too mean… Will meet with the next post…till then its…VANGO PONGO OKKARUNGO…he he…