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…


Idling in Top Gear said...

"Vango...pongo..okkarungo" - what were they teaching Brahmin Tamil?

veniceranger said...

I'd was a strong post...but i can relate to the sensitivities that are pointed out.

Wat i really wonder abt is,the stale way of depicting south indian women only in madisaar,oiled hair with malli poo and speaking "brahmin baashai"?
or should a south indian male be always wearing a dhothi with vibhoothi on the forehead,and saying iyayo at the end of every statement?

Bikerdude said...

I bet the Bingo ad was made in Mumbai and caricatured on a Matunga maami, hence the brahm accent.

Ah well, gotta love good old chennai. Always have the happiest memories associated with it. And everything can be tolerated, and even enjoyed, in lieu of its best asset: The beach!

Nitya said...

you Go Girl!
Totally makes sense.
But i think its more like the Sardarji joke. where some of these ignorant fools who believe these tales to be true life incidents and get a superiorty complex,wen actually they r just exagerrations to make people smile.But jus because they believe so doesnt make punjabi's foolish and the same holds true for TN. Cuz dont we know NorthIndians who after coming to chennai, dont want to leave? Will giv u the sambherr thing though. but i think its an accent issue and to think they make fun of our

Poojitha said...

@idling- yesh yesh..very much sounded like that

@veniceranger- thats how bad d status is..thanks fr pointing out wat i missed

@BD- Matunga character i havent met yet...but..if shes the reference, i might as well take classes on brahmin accent

@nitya- oh ya.. sardajis are goaded even worse...poor them..