Thursday, July 5, 2007

Madras Thatha

Talk of the moon and first salary reminds me of something that is taking up inordinate amounts of mind-space.

Now that I am working and also making some money, I not only need to give the money for the petrol, I also need to show my love and affection to members of the clan by getting them first salary presents.

Why exactly does one need to give them presents, is a grey area. Is it because I share my gothram with a large number of them? Or would it be because they have in their little way determined and helped me in arriving at my life choices?

When amma proposes. One meekly agrees. Especially when you are trying to get back into her good graces.

Amma has a simple formula, one small “token” for each family. Given the complexities involved in buying a cheap yet useful and likely to get appreciation gift, I have decided that in every family, if there is a female relative in the age-group of 18 to 30, they must get a gift. It is much simpler to buy gifts for women. Especially if you are a woman yourself.

However, of the seventeen presents I need to buy; only three of them fit this criteria. So, I am struggling. What to buy for the chitappa who has everything and the periappa who appreciates nothing?

It is tough. It is boring. Therefore, I have given the task to S.

S will find stuff. That much I am sure about. She is resourceful. She has a keen eye for detail. And most importantly she loves the whole world, including the clan. So things that can be put into plastic bags and be truly what the recipient desires, will find her. Even inanimate objects seek a loving eye.

Two particular gifts however, I must buy myself. That for the thathas.

In the hierarchy that exists in the clan. The thatha is supreme. The paati is almost up there. Then come the gothram periappa and gothram chitappa. The maama. The non gothram periamma and chitti. And finally the atthai.

But Thathas are awe-inspiring and the best buddy, altogether at the same time. My maternal thatha is wonderful. Full of enthusiasm and a roguish streak, he is who I hope to become someday.

The paternal thatha, that is Madras thatha, is perhaps, who I already am. Sometimes stubborn, sometimes whiney, sometimes idealist, sometimes funny, sometimes moody, sometimes finishes crossword, sometimes not.

He is the adult I have been most closely associated with through my growing up years. For seventeen years we lived in the same house. His house. With one bedroom. One hall. One kitchen and a separate bathroom and a toilet. When I think of Madras Thatha, I think of Bazlullah Road. And the lovely house I grew up in. But the house was difficult to maintain. All the neighbors had sold their homes. So Thatha had no choice, but to let go.

Since then, we moved to Boag Road and thatha and paati stay at TP Road, in the same apartment as periappa and his family.

Madras Thatha is an independent sort of man. He likes to do his own thing. He is fairly anti-social and has caused paati immense amount of grief.

Three years ago, we got a frantic call from Paati, Thatha who was then 77 had left home for his morning walk at 6:00 am sharp and not returned until 9:30. Amma got frantic and immediately called Warren Road Pattu Maami, the one with important connections. We all then set out to look for him, partly annoyed with him and partly dying of guilt. Finally, he returned home. At 11 o’clock. Safe and without damage. Seems that, he decided to skip paati’s idli for the masala dosai and sambhar vadai at Sangeeta’s.

After that it was decided, I would go on a morning walk with thatha, to keep an eye on him. We used to walk up to the T Nagar Club each morning and attempt to solve the Crossword together. It was fun. But after three weeks, I dropped out. For one, Thatha walked too fast. In fact, T Anna calls him, Gandhi Thatha because of the way that he marches forth. The other thing was, he refused to take any other route. I got a bit tired of Venkata Narayana Road each day. And of course, he knew far more number of words that I ever did.

Thatha also had a bicycle for very long. Having worked for the Murugappa Group for a short while, he had got a little attached to one. We never saw him riding it. But he wiped it each day. Took care of it. And refused to let go of it. Till he got tired of paati using it as a clothes-line and gave it away.

So, what does one get the Thatha?

Amma says, a mobile phone would be useful. So that paati can keep tabs on him. Am not too sure if thatha will appreciate that. Besides, he turns 80 this year, not like he goes out alone that often.

Torch to find lost things? Watch to keep looking at? Figs to eat for better bowel movement? Jarigai Veshti that he can wear for the kalyanam next week? A book of crosswords that he will try and solve in one day? A coupon from Apollo Hospital so that he can do a Master Health Check-Up?

What? What?

Thatha has not been too well the last few months. A slight variation in the ECG, but nothing to worry about. A slight pain in the back, but nothing to worry about. Occasional dizzy spells, but nothing to worry about.

Thatha turns 80 in September. The 80th Birthday has immense significance. They say, a person has seen a thousand moons by then. We plan to celebrate his Sathabhishekam in a grand way. Appa is getting all emotional and wants to go back to the home of the Tamaraparani to celebrate. Periappa thinks otherwise. Everyday they debate.

Thatha’s health has been a bit of a worry. They say, before a significant landmark in your life, such things happen.

Last week, at one of the weddings, Thatha lost his slippers. Somebody had stolen them. T Anna had bought these for thatha three years ago, from the Woodlands store at Panagal Park. It was very expensive, but thatha basked in the love of his favorite grandson. Never mind that he scolded him in a good natured manner. Amma was upset that her son bought his grandfather a pair of slippers.

I expected thatha would get upset. He normally gets upset when the clock stops running. But he did not. On the contrary, he was happy. He said, the peedai has been gotten rid off. Losing a pair of slippers can end a bad patch.

I am happy for him. I even volunteer to buy him a new pair. He declines and says, ask T Anna to come and buy me one.

The prodigal son shall return this September, to celebrate the Thatha’s birthday.

Suddenly, I feel very insignificant.

52 comments:

Murukku said...

For an insignificant person, you write bloody well!

???? said...

I have this doubt that you ought to clarify. For someone who has so much to say via your posts, why is that your comment replies are so sporadic and short? Oh wait, you don't even reply to the comments!

Anonymous said...

For ????,
That is because she has a day job like everyone else :-)

I said...

pesama, pall set vaangu.

Kadambari said...

Someone has been busy and prolific, I see! :)
Did you check the article in Chronicle?

Anonymous said...

I like you lesser and lesser with each post.

Anonymous said...

Those who hate you, find it the toughest to ignore you, eh?

I like your Blog. You write very well. I don't think anything else should matter.

Anonymous said...

If she puts up something in public space, it is my duty to tell her that she sucks. So shut up.

Anonymous said...

To the anon above, you go man!
I agree. Tamil people are generally annoying. Bloggers more so. This one, the most.

Bong Girl said...

Another gem of a post, ATP! :) Good going! All you miserable anonymice, shooo!

Anonymous said...

buy a Cartier Fountain Pen for ur thatha or any other expensive pen from landmark .

Anonymous said...

Tamil Ponnu is not ponnu. It is Nilu.

Karthik said...

Once more anybody mentions Nilu, I shall start weeping.
Give the girl a break man.

Anonymous said...

Who the ffff is Nilu?

Anonymous said...

He is Tamil ponnu's thatha.

Saloni Ramachandiran said...

Hey there.. I just happened to stop by your blogspace accidently and what a serendipity it was!

A very neat blog and a bunch of sweet & nostalgic posts out there!!!

Love them all!!!

Keep rocking!! :-)

Anonymous said...

i have only hatred and pity for women like you.
nilu must revive his blog and puke on this. i dont believe he can be behind a blog which is so elitist and racist. i mean he is an idiot, but this girl is an idiot.

Prabu said...

Bitter anon: If you hate her, why read what she has to say? Don't know what you are trying to achieve by posting as anon and saying you hate her - why don't you just jerk-off - that way maybe you will feel good for 5 seconds and stop this nonsense!

Anonymous said...

Stop defending this chick. She has too many readers and is a racist south Indian elite person.

Prabu said...

Are you saying she is an elite person or she is an elitist? If she is an elitist, pray tell me why you are saying that - I don't see the girl claiming she is part of an elite!!

Just because one writes about hwo things work within her caste/community doesn't mean that they are elitist. Just because her parents are looking for a suitable match for her/her brother within their caste doesn't mean they are elitist. Pray tell me why there is no inter-caste marriages in communities other than what you call the "elitist" castes (note I am not claiming anyone belongs to an elite but only using the term elitist). 90% of marriages are within same caste - does this mean everyone marrying within their caste structure or looking for suitors within their caste is an elitist?

You are a moron and just remember that you are abusing the privelege ATP has offered (posting as anon) and all she has to do is turn off anon posts.

Making constructive criticism is one thing, but what you are upto is pathetic. Advice to you, try using ur fingers on urself and maybe you will get more pleasure in it.

Krish Ashok said...

Suggestions for Thatha gifts
1) Book on MS Subbulakshmi by TJS George - I am yet to meet a person over 70 who does not love that book
2) Shawl - I know. I know. It's Chennai, but I am told old people do feel cold at nights
3) Small envelope with 500 + 1 rupees. Cash is always a safe bet.
4. And oh, if he writes well, why not a nice leather bound diary/journal. You could ask him to jot down his life experiences.

Blogsnob said...

I have a suggestion. Next time if anyone mentions the word Nilu in their comments, track their IP by matching the time-stamps. Then make sure that we find out who these people are and fine them Rs 100 for each mention.
You will be rich, sans an Ad Sense Programme.
You don't even need to actually write anything. Just post the notes of, Bible and Classic Mythology and how it impacted English Literature.
People will still coment.

Karthik Sriram said...

excellent writing style! I'm really envious of u!

LKS

A said...

Just give thatha a bound copy of the print-outs of ATP's Blog! :D

m$q said...

RK Narayan has reincarnated.

Kadambari said...

Enna ma, you are yet to tell people, Freeya Vidu?!
Tsk! :)

Anti Indoo said...

You work for that Iyengaar Rag, you ought to feel insignificant.

Anonymous said...

Please clarify once that you are not Nilu. If you are, that would be such a pity.

Anonymous said...

Why pity? Nilu is the best.

Anonymous said...

With great difficulty the Blogosphere has been cleaned up, so it is better it stays that way. Even if this girl is annoying, she is not as much of a loser as that fellow. That is why.

They must ban all Tam Bloggers anyway. Arrogant and stupid idiots.

Anonymous said...

Now that Nilu is back, will this Blog shutdown?

Anonymous said...

Though I would suggest, the idiot shuts down both the Blogs.

Anonymous said...

Somebody give the girl a break.

Sriram said...

Take your thatha to meet your colleague who designs crosswords.

Anonymous said...

You even hate your brother? you sicko.

m$q said...

Gift suggestion:

Most people of your thatha's generation would at least know Rudram-Chamakam.

You could get a CD/cassette of the same (I think Radhakrishna Sastrigal's rendition is pretty standard) that he can use to chant-along at the morning puja time.

well wisher said...

Since evryone is already beng so crictical about u, I probably don’t need to add to it. But I cant help it.
Fiurst of all, ur attititde is very typical tam-brahm sort. Tat is such a bad thing in the twentyfisrt century. Generally also othr south Indians are not so bad, but tams are lke u only. The only thing tat tams are gud in is in maths. U r even bad at tat. So u r worse than other tams also. Basically I am saying, concentrate on your work. Some smarter north inidan mite take ur job away soon. The only gud of dis blog r the comments. They r nicer than the post. I m sure u r very ugly like all tam women. May be tat is ur problem.

Asal Tamil Penn said...

Adengappa!
The times are meant to be determined by the lives that we lead. Our lives are not meant to be determined by the times we are in.
I have no clue what that means. But I have lesser clue of what yours and a number of these comments mean.
Till the point that crows don't become an endangered species, Tamizh Brahmin’s and their attitude shall survive.
So, freeya vidu.

Prabu said...

ATP, refresh kulla oru commenta? as mottai boss says "cooool"

Don't know why you incite such passions in a lot of anonymous folks - especially considering they are all "thoda nadungi thandavaraayanunga" in that they don't wanna give out their names or goog login. Turn off anon posting I say....

avataram said...

From the economist:

"Amartya Sen, an economist and a more recent Nobel-prize winner, has given warning that the country's west and south may come to look like California while the north and east is more like sub-Saharan Africa."

Dear well wisher,

When did the Hindu start hiring north indians who cant spell? You should continue reading Dainik Jagran and Competition Success Review. Your BDO job is just around the corner, dont despair.

Vendakkai said...

The times are meant to be determined by the lives that we lead. Our lives are not meant to be determined by the times we are in… Till the point that crows don't become an endangered species, Tamizh Brahmin’s and their attitude shall survive.
Unga kaal kunjam kaaminga. Please adopt me as your sishya, if not anything else.

Prabu said...

avataram,

don't blame well wisher. he prolly was using only one hand to type - if you know what I mean...

Prabu said...

vendakkai - why "vendakkai"? shouldn't it be either "vendaikkai" or "vendakka"?

well wisher said...

haha. tams can only quote important names. they dont hav any own thots.
and everyone knows, tams are most sexually deprived mens. it doesnt matter about da spellings.

Prabu said...

well wisher - FYI, having sex with your hand doesn't qualify as having real sex!

anantha said...

*sigh*

Artful Badger said...

I had a Madras Thata as well. My mother's father. My paternal grandfather was Bombay thatha.
Your post brings back a lot of childhood memories.

Mithraah Indiirh said...

Full Joy only this blog... is :)
Loving the comments :)
asal Tamizh penn kudos to you ma :)

Sundara said...

A wonderful vignette of life.
I feel part of that.
I am 76.

tamilrules said...

@ anon "..Tamil people are generally annoying." oh is that right...then why the fuck are you on this blog when it says clearly for fagbeefs like you asal "tamil" penn...

tamilrules said...

well wisher aka mother fucking loser cunt...why dont you get ur dickhead out of ur moms cunt and look around..u piece of anti-tamil shit...

Abishek Goda said...

Nice read. How many times are people gifted with good narration skills?