Sunday 27 June 2010

Kalyana Kathaigal

Im in Chennai in the middle of Kalyana season . The whole day goes in trying to get into the tight silk blouses and ferrying vethlai bags .
In Chennai kalyanams are taken seriously . It is the only place where I know that you can have 3 invites on the same day and in the same hour slot!So this is how the chennaiite does it.
Did the invite come by post or courier ? Are we boys side or girls side? Then comes did they come personally ? Who came ? Parents or tier 1 relatives. Then the ultimate tie breaker. Who cooks in the wedding?
Mountbatten Mani , Arusuvai , Saapadu Raman , Kalyana Raman , Mambalam Mahalingam ...
Now a days though the Mambalam tribe have deserted good sambar sadam for wontons and chocolate fondue. Many a mamis find it difficult to juggle the giant appalam in a sea of Iyer made Curry leaf tempered Original Chinese noodles.

Once we have deciphered where we go first , sit longest and eat the husband and wife make a complicated plan.

You arrive at the wedding. First the men move to the left and women to the right . Young girls are deciphered slowly the boys in Hawaii chapals and American returned cologne are slowly recorded and mentally matched.

As Husband and wife sit separately and wife is immersed in mami tales . The mama on the other side can feel the bile rising in his stomach. Ducking and weaving the relatives of the couple he signals furiosuly to mami . the modern day mama would sms saapad? in the good old days a pavadai clad girl would be sent Mami, mama is calling.
But first you have to mark attendance , then hand the gift, avert the meals ready look of the relatives. Collect the thamboolam bag and run to the next.

Handing the gift is a skill in itself. You learn to squeeze past the bouquets and land right at the stage. If you are important the photographer is summoned, if you are not you are told how dear you are.

Then comes the reason we women love weddings. You don't cook , you get to dress , not have to sit next to a complaining husband and bitch without bother. So when you get to the Elai sapad and sample the buckets being emptied. You are confronted by the videographer. He knows exactly how to capture a pattu mami with a papadum in her mouth or a mama vehemently fighting with the cook that no mundris came his way. For me i find it tough to have the poli dipping with ghee and jangri all in one go and a flash light attacking me.

But all of is who have had videos of our weding. How many times have we seen it and how many times in that have we leapt out of our husband's heart and on to a rose bunch. I managed it 6 times and I also managed to have my head morphed into a chess queen and chase the king all Over 64 squares.The videographer explained madam special effects .... my patti thought it was a bad omen to have my head cut off on my wedding video.

Nowadays you don't just attend weddings you have to sing , dance , socialize all at same time .
But I serious love the wedding season. Where else can we see on a muhurtham day , vadhyars taking no entry and telling the cop Saar muhutham time coming close pls.adjust. Or ladies in their scooty with their brightest sari and matching helmet. In December we can ever get the matching ear muff (the current chennai haute accessory) in leopard print toying with the maatal.
Wedding season is when chennai takes stock of its soon to be married youngsters in a way that even the census may not be able to keep up. But when aadi arrives apart from aadi thalupadi you have to re adjust those silk blouses for the next season....
till then mama and mami can keep themselves busy emptying thambaloom packets and recycling gifts till the next manjai patrikai comes along....

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Cleanliness is next to godliness

By now you all have been introduced to my maid . The days when she comes and I am there I get a sneak preview into what makes this woman tick. Bring god into everything , give a Arasi look with zoom in zoom out action when asked why did u break my jar... if Madam is still not relenting ... turn on the taps. In a nutshell she is my maid. In my head I have boxed her , cajoled her and also think of a life where I dont stand by the lift at 8.30 like a pit bull awaiting her arrival and then turn into a little lap dog when i see my floor pressed .


My maid is honest , never lies never cheats and never robs. So I indulge her superstitions. Which are let me quote . When I have my ladies days I dont collect godly rubbish. Ok thats reasonable. On amavasai I light lamp , make payasam and vadai come late for work. No maid No. Ok I bring crunchy masala vadais to work. Ok then amavasai is forgiven. She does make very good vadai . That gives my cook a vadai complex.
Ok on Fridays I dont collect garbage . Why . It is godly day . Ah . That is not happening. But you see Friday is clean day . Ok Ok clean is always good .
Then comes killing insects and animals . In India we all run little abattoirs seeing how to put a lizard in trance use a bata chapal to down the roach. keep cakes for rats .... Its a chenobyl in the back yard.
Maid says Tuesday Friday no animal murders . Ah but if animal is running around what can I do . Maid says no ma that lizard will send us to hell. By this point I realise I am going there anyway and in all probability dragging maid with me . So i take out the plastic bag.... and sparing you the lizaard hara kiri kill the thing. Ma maid says have bath and light lamp ... your sin will go .
I chew slowly ... then of course comes PMS. she has serious PMs . When the bad moon rises maid has problems with iron man , cook , gardener. So when its Pms time I shout at my husband stop throwing garbage the next four days there is no garbage bag removal. Husband thinks its not even your bad moon thats rising why do I deal with 2 PMS every month. Good question husband ... today is TGIF you see maid is in godly mode and my devil avatar is hanging out ... and this devil doesnt even wear prada .. just good old bata hawai .. because the hawai chapal can kill a Roach with one phat no prada or choo can come close.. for some its TGIF and for its OH GGIF oh god its friday

Togetherness is love

Have you tried navigating a trolley full of luggage into Chennai airport sweeping past hordes of relatives all huddled together waving at their wards . With promises to return soon , eat medicines , produce babies , write emails , pray to god ,all hanging in the air. The wards you can see have their hearts torn between two continents and their clothing reflects their nostalgia shared. sparkling nike and leather jacket jostles for space with jimki and malli poo which will all be tucked away till the next trip back . As we try to wrestle these persistent relatives who are so moved by the situation they refuse to budge . Me not known for physical might but tongue power I have been bestowed by the almighty try to tell them ,please move. they stand their transfixed waiting to catch the little pinky of the good bye . Many times I have been trampled on or have my suitcases thrown down or have relatives trying to enter the airport along with me .
Which brings me to my scientific research findings. For each adult that leaves Chennai airport an average 2.1 adults accompany them. If there is baby add another 1.7 , bigger children you can add another.7 . If they are fully grown and I mean American size growth minus about.485 adults . So for each family going to America there is a send off party of 4 adults , 8 massive cases , half of grand sweets , RMKV pothy´s and a sprinkling of nalli. Not to mention mixer grinder , sumeet mixie all forming part of the send off experience .
have you noticed Indians do very few things in solitude. Except the utmost neccesity...I had to have some injections for an allergy . The doctor said 5 injections over 10 days.Every time the nurse would take me in she would pull the curtain and peep outside and wait . After the third . poke me quick I can get out experience , she asked me if I was married. I said yes , mother in same city. I said yes . Is it relevant . So nurse says , madam you always come alone . No one to come with you . Why I ask ? Normally women come with some one . Really I ask. See I dont relish having these injections and I dont really think my husband is very fond of seeing needles. My mom would freak out if she saw blood . So trust me I am better off. Nurse looks very strangely at me and takes in her next normal patient , lady with mother , water bottle , napkin etc etc.
Next I run to buy furniture. I see in the store full families shopping , debating sitting , jumping , sleeping on mattress . I run in ask do you have a sofa for 20,000 . Good Is it fittable in my living room. Good. send it over buddy. The sales man says madam do you want to look. No . Want to come back. No. Just send it . My husband never really notices the sofa as long as I can clean all the food we can spill on it . So sofa in solitude retail is good
Then enter a sari shop. This is the shop I dread most . When all the fancy saries are thrown at me I dont know what to do . I look quickly . Ok this sari looks reasonable . It has a blouse piece. Good that saves me the headache of finding mera wala green.While I try to pay , you see full families looking through saris. The husband says green is not your colour. The mother says in muted tones ... your mother in law is paying buy more fancy sari . the wife wants a Vidya balan ensemble . Put all this together you have a two hour family shopping experience where saris are seen in tube light , no light and the taken out on the road to see in natural light . Do we actually wear our saris on busy T nagar streets for its natural colour to show ??The experience is then followed by snacks and tea .
Many times when husband is away I bring on the calorie mela. Parantas doused in butter , vadas with ghee and brownie and muffin . So I like to go to these swanky cafe shops and pretend to be cool and gorge on muffins. Every five minutes I get asked, madam is someone joining ... No I am here to eat so that when my husband returns we can go back to bircher museli and stewed fruit... They look at me strangely. Every time a person walks in they look at the person and me and see if there is some buzz!sometimes flattering sometimes you think aiyo yo
Why do we have to be together all the time ... In India if you buy a curtain , the family has bought a curtain . Everyone will visit to see the curtain , the nice ones say eh cool. The older ones say is this a curtain , looks like some cloth has been attached . In our times curtain meant a curtain ... Ok I get the point
Ok I never invited you for curtain seeing ceremony. Now that you are here have the bajis and move on . I hate this come and see my house I have new curtains. And how does that change my curtains. Why do we need to see your curtains or sofa ... But we always see the curtain and say oh nice and on the drive home you bitch ... that curtain is so bad. My god how can you buy that curtain. But in family retail law do unto your curtain what other do unto theirs
Abroad we have burst crackers in our yard and no one turns and looks ... or question. But in India togetherness is love and you can never have enough of that, although love at times is 24x7 indulgence