Thursday, February 8, 2007

Ugh, weddings

I love Dhanur maasa (Dec-Jan). It’s the best season in the south. Its cool, Chennai is bursting its seams with Carnatic concerts, and my happy budday to you is right in the middle of it. Most importantly, it’s one whole month of inauspicious days - weddingless bliss! But now that families are gearing up to get their progeny hitched again, its time for me to go into hiding. Bye bye blissful Dhanur Maasa. Hello relative-avoiding 100kmph dashes in and out of Malleshwaram.

Weddings on my mother’s side are bizarre, though the scenes are always the same. Diamond-eared, silk saree clad women talking to each other in convent school accents about how they are related, and trying to set their children up with each other. Men wearing hang dog expressions, calling each other sir and discussing the current socio-economic situation. NRI kids moping about in their brand new "Indian" clothes, complaining incessantly about the heat and the food in terribly incongruous american accents.

A small foray into the language dynamic of my mom’s side of the family: English is unfortunately the preferred language of communication, though the odd sentence will sometimes be translated into Kannadized Tamil to drive a point home. Oddly though men will only talk to women in Kan-Tam (and vice versa) and switch back to English to talk to each other.

Yeah they’re nuts. But then I love to show them off!


Random scenes from a random family wedding

Scene 1: At the entrance of the dining room

Large matronly Aunt (LMA) to Amma: Ooo Gita! How lovvly to see you mah. Eppo vandhey? (when did you come?)

Amma (half hugging aunt with one hand and hitching up her saree with the other) : Just this morning mah. Epdi irkey? (How are you?)

LMA: Just the usual mah. Ive not at allllll been well for six months now. Yoooooooozhul aches and pains. None of us is getting any younger, no? Muhuhuhahaha

Amma : (trademark social giggle) Youve met my son? (points to zoned out son squinting towards the kitchen)

LMA: Oooooooooooooo. Yevlo perivon aipotikkaan. Odhra, gyaapkon ikkardha? Unde paati aanon naane. (Oooo, how big he's become. Do you remember me child? Im your grandmother (doubtless through some torturously complicated relationship)

Me: (shaken out of torpor and trying best not to let on that I wasnt listening) Yeah the traffic was quite heavy on the way.

LMA (confused, but trying her best not to let on that she’s worried about going slightly senile): Aama ma, reaaalllly. ‘Ts become suchaaaaa chore to get out and about these days, no? Its realllly tough. Rombaa kashtmaardhe. (silvery laugh)

LMA (to amma) Yenna mah, paathkundikya ivnke? (Are you looking for him (ie a for a bride)?)

Me: (Stern glower at mother)

Amma (nervouser giggle): Err, you know these kids mah, they have minds of their own..

LMA (Trying to be mod) : Aaama, aaama. Kekve vaanaan (don’t ask) (Turning to me) So? Have you stashed away someone we don’t know about? Someone you go to all those “disco-theques” with every weekend? Oh come on. (nudges) You can tell your grandmother. Don’t worry pah, I wont tell your amma. Nee kekadhe dee (you don’t listen dee) (pushes amma away, the pushee still giggling nervously)

Me: Well there’s only one way to find out aunty. Come to the “discotheque” with me this Saturday.

LMA: Ooooooooo ketya deeee? (Did you hear that di?) (Laughs in a flattered sort of way) Whaaaat’ll an old fuddy duddy like me do rattling around in a discotheque I say.

(to Amma): Adhe maaa, andh Srirangu de pethi ikkaaLe, ingye Benglurle ikka. Rombaa nal pann avluh (You know, Srirangu’s granddaughter, she’s in Bangalore. A really nice girl ) (Looks conspiratorially at me)

Her voice, interspersed with nervous giggles from the maternal, fades away as I zone out again over buckets of chathamdh (rasam) gleaming seductively at me from the kitchen.


Scene 2: Post lunch, pre departure

Appa: Hellooooooo ho-ho (shakes hands with someone I bet he doesn’t remember from Adam.)

The other guy (TOG), coincidentally the husband of LMA: Hello sir, long time. You were outaaf station?

Appa: Not particularly. So? Whats happening?

TOG: Jaasthi yenilla saar (not much sir). Neeve hel beku. (You have to tell me) Howwaar you saar?

Appa: Getting along, getting along.
(calmly thinking of neutral sounding conversation to make with a person he probably wont be able to place all evening)

TOG: I vaas reeding about recent laanch aaf INSAT from SHAR. So? Congratulations.

Appa: Oh ha ha. Thank you thank you. It’s quite a milestone actually.

TOG: But whyyyyy they are wasting time building aaaal these raakets here I say. Whyyyy they cant buy fraam US and laanch I don’t know.

Appa: Well if we develop the competency ourselves, it might be to our advant…

TOG: No but whyyyyyyyyy unnnnnecessarily buildaand aaal that. Simmmmply aaaaal our fellows aaar sitting here and reeeeebuilding yevvverything thatttis aalready available. Whaaaaaaaaat is the use I say.

Appa: (giving up) That’s true.

TOG: So? How are other things?

Appa: Fine, fine. All fine. Huh huh huh.

TOG: Sir you know my wife? (To wife LMA)

Appa: Err yes I think we've met.

LMA (to husband): Oh nanna therime. Geethande yejmaanar mah. (Of course I know him. he's Gita's husband).

TOG: Andh Geethaa? (Which Gita?)

LMA: Adhe mah, Vedvallide akkande de rendavdh naatpanninde thange Srirangnayki gyaapkon ikardha? (You know, Vedavalli's elder sister's 2rd daughter in law's younger sister Sriranganayaki?)

TOG: Oho. Mysore paak vaalaa? (Oh you mean the Mysore paak family?) (All families are crowned with an identifier. This one apparently seems to have a reputation of making good Mysore Paak)

LMA: Anne maa. Mysore paak vaa de haathk pakkathva. (No mah, these are the neighbours of the Mysore Paak family)

TOG: Aareh...? Pakkthaathle Kall-uppu va indha. Avaalk anna aanon? (Who...? I remember the rock salt family used to live there. How is she related to them?)

LMA: Hoon maa, kall-uppva le. Adhe, Srirangnayki irkaale? Avlde pethide naai yeppovon bogulkyunde irkme. Konch na minne pakkth-haath panne kadchoot patpoche - gyaapkon ikkardha? Andh panninde akkonde rendavdh haidhi thaan ivluh - Gita.

(Yes mah, the rock salt family. You know Sriranganayaki of that family, dont you. Remember her granddaughter's dog that would bark all the time, and once bit the neighbour girl and ran away? (presumably in the early 50s!) Well Gita is that girl's elder sister's second daughter.)

TOG: Ohhho, arthon aache. Kere pakkathva aanm anna? (Oh I get it. Don't you mean the lake dwellers?)

LMA: Hoon maa. Romba kitte aanon ava (Yes mah, theyre quite close)

TOG (to Appa) : So vee arr verry closely related aa?

Appa : Yes, apparently. (smiling to himself)

LMA (to Appa): Namskaaron. Romba ketikken ungle pathi. Yeppodhaana engde haathk vaaron. Geethak shollkyunde ikke.
(Namaste. Ive heard so much about you. You must come home sometime. Ive been asking Gita for a long time)

LMA (To Amma): Gita? You musssssst come home some time mah. It’ll be so lovely meeting all of you. Yepo vare ant chollu. Tell me when you’re coming.

LMA (to me) : So? When are you taking me to the disco-theque. Yeppo alchkund pore disco-thequ-ke?

Me: (cringing in fear, and pulling foot out of mouth momentarily to kick myself) Annnnytime aunty. (borrowing mother’s nervous giggle and vanishing quietly)

My only interest in weddings this year is the food. I think Ill send a tiffin box with Amma to represent me. Oth’wise I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it mah. I’ll be very bored. Romba bore aarna.


farrokh said...

Hellow hellow what a fun, I say.

You have oodles of talent and so much humour. Must put it to good use, I say.

Who knows, you might end up being the BengaluruBusyBee

Shobha said...

hahaha (silvery guffaw)

but more mandyam tamil am wanting. pls publish the series that you use as introduction course to non-mandyam tamil speakers no?

comment_raja said...

i hope aunty and uncle are reading this ma :P

i wish i had such multifarious relatives ya, mine will just interfere and give free advice.


comment_raja said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mahesh said...

luvly i say :) Wish you ahd started long ago! And here's wishing more joblessness at the W.

Sumitra said...

i was rolling about the floor readin that!
Love the entire collection of posts...
severe case of deja vu here...

Avi said...

romba excellent. my father's side speaks similar kannmil and it's been years since I heard that. look forward to reading more of the same

Ashwin said...

Absolutely Hilarious!!

Bikerdude said...

Thanks mahesh, sumitra, avi and ashwin :)

phoenix said...

had gr8 fun readin. ur simply humorous and i cant stop laughin.
plz do land up in othr wedings n gv us an update

shub said...

Brilliant stuff! Loved this and the Aerosmith concert post, particularly! :)

Anonymous said...

Ayyo... engayo kettamadhiri irruke!(seemings like somewhere the heards!) brilliant stuff...keep 'em coming!

bindu said...

A modern RK taking baby stepsuuu ma.
Uncanny gift to observe everyday life ...
Keep it up biker/Revanna dude !!

(Whokay just up , dont ask me where now .. )

Bikerdude said...

Thanks phoenix, sub, anon and bindu :)

unpredictable said...

This is the best post of the lot and the FUNNIEST ive read in a long time ... dude .. ur really good!! I hope ur leveraging this professionally!

maami said...

i was 29 and the whole family worried that i'd die an old maid. and each family wedding was a tortured affair especially with younger cousins running behind their snotty children.for a while amma considered getting me hitched with one of the kitchen dubba kattu veshti kameswarans. that desperate she'd become.weddings are dangerous places if you don't wanna get hitched ba.

Nancy said...

I was under the impression u r a mal. But now i'm confused....

My3 said...

Me. Me. Me! I was the HAPPY NRI this February. I luuuved it when everyone asked when I got to Bangalore(refuse to call it whatever it is now). I ate every single meal. I am always happy with a smile on my face thinking of the miserable weather my son and husband were living in while I was wearing stilletos with my wedding silks. Aaaaahhhhh Bangalore.
Biker dude kanna will we all get an invitation on your blog? We Amreekans can come from July 15-Aug end ;-) Just saying, you know :D

aditi said...

superb biker dude...

is ur amma a hebbie iyengar while ur da a madras iyengar ?

Swat said...

Haha!! That was outrageously funny and so typical! Sakkath timepass reading your posts. Keep it coming..

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