Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Mail-Box and a Red Box

In between all of amma’s packing and our hunt for large suitcases, I am feeling a bit tired. Buying boxes to take to America is very expensive. T Anna very generously sent the tickets. It would have been nice if he would have also sent some money for the luggage and thermal-wear that amma needed to buy from Naidu Hall. Appa suggested that we borrow a suitcase from Nagam Akka, who had gone to Moscow during the 1980 Olympics (or sometime before I was born). In what was widely believed to be the most vulgar display of wealth by my extended family, a giant red box was procured. Later, the box accompanied the globe trotting Nagam Akka, along with her three-stoned diamond nose pin across several countries.

When I was younger, it fascinated me because, it was so large that perhaps, the dwarf sized Nagam Akka would herself fit into it. We used to hear so many Moscow stories from her, it was fascinating. And when T Anna told me that Nagam Akka was actually a cosmonaut, in my naiveté I believed him.

S and I dragged the box to our third-floor apartment. It looked as old and worn out as Nagam Akka did. Surprisingly, the number-lock still worked.

888, amma whispered, lest the household help were to hear us.

Podis are being packed. Will she get past with all those concoctions through security, we wonder. Will she get lost at some big American airport, S wants to know. Will T Anna not even come to pick her up, I wonder briefly.

What will you do there for the entire day, Indira Maami wants to know? You need to develop some hobby, she tells amma firmly.

Fifty five years and two cities later, Amma will set her feet out of Tamizh land for the very first time. That requires some help from the good Iyer gods.

Tomorrow we will go to the Vadapalani Kovil and break some coconuts, so that we can ward of any possibilities of the evil eye.

I have realized that going to a foreign land for the first time is like being a first time mother. Everyone has an opinion on it and suggestions on what you should do.

Amma says that while she is there, I should email T Anna everyday. I should tell them everything. What I cook, how quickly the rasam podi is getting over, if S is eating well, if Appa is going for his walks, if Paati is eating figs, if Thatha is going for a walk in the terrace, if G Periamma is feeding us anything, family gossip, neighbourhood gossip, Madras gossip and so on.

One can’t help but wonder why she is going at all?

I will write emails, I promise for the nth time. We fold several Garden saris that she is carrying. For the last few months she has been saving her Garden (that is a generic name for any sari that is made with polyester like substance) saris.

One can’t wear them in Madras, she announces.

Yeah, right.

Don’t forget the emails, amma reminds me again.

She also tells that S to email. Amma doesn’t trust me with emails. Apparently T Anna and M Manni both complain about the time-lag in my emails and the taciturn tone when I do write. I don’t like emailing very much, probably because I was a late bloomer when it came to the Internet.

T Anna was the first person to introduce the computer and the possibilities of the Internet to us. There was something mildly putting off about his Isaac-Newton-apple-just-fell-on-my-head tone, which left me a little cold.

G Periamma was the first relative in our family to have a PC with Internet. Every other day, I was sent to Periamma’s house to type out some email to T Anna, which had some hurried instructions written by Amma on a copy of Aval Vikatan or The Hindu.

I resented T Anna for the walk that I had to do from Boag Road to Tirumalai Road.

Finally, G Periamma got a new computer with a faster processor, and her old one, we inherited.

I opened my mail-box twice each day to read about T Anna’s tough yet happy life and also his alleged culinary prowess. Nobody else emailed me. And so, losing passwords was my favourite hobby.

Over years, I acquired some friends who were email worthy, but I am easily bored and quickly lose in touch with them. I am sure when they get married, they will find me. And that will do.

However, things are different now. And I do get mails from Blog readers. I am not sure if they are Bloggers. If they are, it is very likely that they email from an id that screams SPAM! says that, he/she loves me.
What joy? says that, I need more sex in my life. Wait, he (I am certain actually) says that I need sex. The more prefix would suggest that there might be something already, which he confidently dismisses as an unlikely event. Glorious Tamil sex, he recommends.
Very useful.
I will be happy to give any of the ladies his contact details. asks me as to why he doesn’t feature on my Blogroll. He (again I am sure) goes on to say that I am being anti Madras by featuring two Bloggers who have Bengloor included in their url.
Thank you for opening my eyes. wishes to let me know that, she is ashamed to share my gothram. If she knows of any single boys from some other Gothram, she should get in touch with amma. also complains. She talks at length about some North Indian cricketer and compares him to me. And me to him. She proclaims that I am a bad advertisement for Tamizh Penns across the world.

Several other people wish to know if I am the sister of a certain Tamizh Penn blogger (who is my favourite), the daughter of a male blogger (whom many are obsessed with), a software programme written by a particularly clever blogger (whom everyone loves), and so on.

All of it is mildly amusing. Of course, I never reply to these emails. I mean, I am the biggest proponent of equal opportunity hate. And like she rightly points out, this is the only thing I ever have to say.

However, whether Bloggers email or not, what I do know is that, they talk. They talk to other bloggers. They talk to your colleagues. And some of them talk to amma.

Therefore, I find myself in a somewhat unhappy situation, that of being selectively anonymous.

I have chosen to be anonymous and would like it to stay that way. And now I am a little tired of people trying to out me. It is boring, silly, pointless and is mostly annoying.

And therefore, I can’t help but feel that -- between this, that and everything else, I am all Blogged out.


themoronmagnet said...

Awww, that sucks. Don't let them get to you.
More power to anonymity.

buddy said...

u may be anonymous but every damn tam-bram in the world can totally identify with u!!

neha vish said...

Aaarggghh! :(

anantha said...

As a dear friend told me, this blog is fairly cultural in its context. Essentially what I think that means is that some people get it and some people just don't, even if they are all Tamizh ponnus and payyans. The ones that don't are worried that they are missing something and hence they rant.
The only answer I know for this problem is your favorite answer too - Freeyavidu.

Looking forward to the next post once this ennui passes.

Pri said...

uff so much drama you do. you cant be all blogged out. is not possible.

also we're looking forward to more 'amma takes on foreign land' stories. kindly do not break our horts.

Kamini said...

Ouch, I feel your pain.
To hell with those cowardly and jealous scammers. Your blog is one of my favourites, I would be heart-broken if you became blogged-out and stopped writing. And I'm certain that 99% of your readers would feel the same way.

Begonia said...

C'mon penn! You can't leave us hanging, waiting for reports on Asal Mami in Foreign Land!

Seriously: stay anonymous, you don't have to respond to those who try to out you, keep posting.

Btw, you should know that you even have Telugu maami-maama fans (i.e. regular readers).

Kadambari said...

Ummm, ippadi sollitiye. Amma needs to go Amrika and ATP needs to find mapilai, don't ditch now.

And let those silly Bloggers be. the family still lous you. For them, you must Blog! :D

Kaushik said...

Nagam Akka deserves an entire post. Also daily updates on how a domesticated managed home and work. I insist.

Several other people wish to know if I am the sister of a certain Tamizh Penn blogger (who is my favourite), the daughter of a male blogger (whom many are obsessed with), a software programme written by a particularly clever blogger (whom everyone loves), and so on.
Really? Tsk. :)

Amrita said...

Awwww, don't sulk. I am sure this shall pass. Do I make some post suggestions?

Sid said...

I just discovered your blog and I have been floored. And like an earlier commenter mentioned, being tam-bram probably helps understand your writing better.

I didn't grow up in Madras or even India for that matter but boy, can I relate to everything you say. Seriously great writing and don't even bother going un-anoynomous unless you want to feature on TV talk shows and all that ;)

Madhumathi said...

Hi Tamil Penn,
I love your blog writing and a constant visitor to your blog. Please don't stop blogging.

suchitra said...

this comment isnt post specific, but nevertheless..

firstly, the level to which i relate to your posts is obscene and hence, very scary..

worse, i have lived in bangalore all my life (you know how tam bram girls from bangalore are just not good enough for tamizh boys in madras)... and despite the exclusion, my conditioning has been so goddamn similar to your tales (the whole deal with mathematics, odd numbers and post phone call analysis, etc), its depressing if not scary.

whoever created us has a wicked sense of humour

Bikerdude said...

The best way of handling being blogged out is to freeya vidu for sometime. Let it rest for a while and blog when you feel like it.

Needless to say we will gobble up every morsel you toss in our direction, whenever you do :)

Deepti said...

Achcho. Since when did you start being bothered about anything? ;)
And where is the ATM?

Idle Idli said...

Blogged out, it seems! All nonsense. I think you are just sulking because the Amma is ditching you and going to spend time with the d-i-l. But cheer up, at least you can put an end to the Murungakkai Sambhar! :)

traveller said...

hey asal tamizh mammiyar can write from the US of A now! Yay!

Anonymous said...

Wicked blog, never fails to make me grin

P.R.E.E.T.I said...

ppl argue for the sake arguin..dont let it gt to u..dnt knw u, bt juz thought id drop a line!

btw..nice stuff :)

The Pseudonym said...

No No Kanna, you should not stop bloggingand surely words like blogged out, nopeeeeeeeee. Waiting for your posts.

Kumar said...


Ashok said...

Dear ATM, let me take a shot at *outing* you... you are Mr. V. Gangadhar writing about all the stuff "MountRoad Mandu" wont let him write because of political correctness constraints. a

Amrita said...

ATP Kanna, how much more sulking? :D

Prajeesh said...

I think I spent one useful day at office.
And now I am know what is meant by "blogging".

Sudhanthira said...

Just out of curiosity, what exactly do u mean by being asal tamizh? does asal tamizh mean being brahmin? does it necessarily mean staying in t.nagar and wearing pottu? i do neither of those. And no, not a brahmin either. And never quite wanted to be. But that's another thing. And..I am still tamizh. very much tamizh.

U are good. very very good. I truly enjoy reading your stuff. Hilarious isn't the word really. Ur writing is honestly very entertaining.

But i wish i can leave it just at that. Read it for just its face value. The more i take it seriously, the more i begin to wonder if i have somehow gotten into a world where identities oppress people. Where u are so totally exclusive, it almost feels scary!

Honestly, what is it about brahmin that makes you feel tamizh? Does nei sadham and ussili make our vandikara mean kolumbu and aatu kaal soup phoren??

I so wish that all that u are writing here will remain to be personal rants. The more i read it, the more i start wondering what real impact has those dravidian movements had on people like u. Those dalit massacres that seemed to have never taught you; that the more exclusive you are the more you perpetuate castetism and the attrocities that come along with it.

Life is so much more than being brahmin and t.nagar and tamizh. Besides being tamizh is not for any of us to define. If u are tamizh, u know it. All of us it know it. One need not make a proclamation out of it. And worse, put down others to make tamizh seem superior.

Have fun writing responsible stuff ATP.


Jayanthi said...

This Blog makes me jealous.

nimbupani said...

nooooo! I like what you write despite insinuations otherwise from your readers. my mom first alerted me to this heart breaking news. We are both fans. Please dont stop! :(

Arv said...

wow... thats one lengthy blog I have ever read... aana nalla irukku.. will be back to read more.. take care...

Ok said...

Aiyoo..See I had mailed about an article I wanted to get published. Did you do something about it?

That was not some spam. I am still thrashing around to get that published.


Sabarinathan said...

Hi Asal Tamizh Penn:

Your point about anonymity well taken, will leave it at that - for now at least.

Like someone else said in these comments, your writing makes me feel jealous about your ability to write.

We had a good time at a home reading it. And piecing together the evidence: Maan niram, roughly 25 year old, height (missing),Tam Brahm girl,working somewhere, staying in T Nagar (Boag Road?), from middle class and traditional family, of T'veli+Tanjavur antecedents, one elder brother married and settled in States and one younger sister, somewhat unorthodox views (?), ...You can see I have been reading too many of these matrimonial ads. There are two cousins who are desparately in the market, you know.

I even carried a print-out so everyone could read!

So what did you study finally?

I do plan to come back and post a comment again.

And do keep writing...

Karthik said...


Karthik said...

I am sorry to have sent you those nasty emails. Manichukko. Write now.

The Quark said...

Fabulous blog. I mean, being an iyer myself (a palakkad one, but nevertheless), each and everything that you write makes immense sense to me. And what with being in the land of Uncle Sam, this provides hardcore entertainment.

aana oru chinna sandEgam. muzhu pErai En veLippaDiya chollamaaTTEngarEL?

The Quark said...

To quote tillaana mOhanaambaaL.

maraindirundu paarkkum marumamenna

Shastra Kovoor said...

Happiness is equal to "What you have" divided by "What you want to have". In the West, they try to increase the numerator. In the East, they try to decrease the denominator.

- TMFUL :)

Proud said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Proud said...

@sudhanthira...sweet lord so what if she is proud of being a tamil & brahmin? lady dont pretend being oblivious to the fact tis her blog & somesuch entries from meens and aatu soups are not that welcome!

themoronmagnet said...

You have either post or come and delete these comments, especially when people like Shastra Koovum start commenting on your blog. We used to have a word for this.

The Pseudonym said...

Everyone is entitled to their views,ain't they?Democracy is the term I believe.Crappy term but still...Let's leave it to Asal Tamil Penn to Decide.

Shastra Kovoor said...

Kovoor - prominent rationalist, free thinker and writer

Koovum - prominent city landmark

Deepika said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deepika said...

You Crack me up. How did you get Dravidian movement and dalit oppression while discussing about M Manni and G Periamma.

A wise gal like ATP would just answer, "freeya vudu" for you.

I think only ATP family members should have max. complaints abt this blog, since their story is made public.

HaRi pRaSaD said...

I had some respect and admiration for you until I read that post of yours on Telugu people.

Puke worthy.

Bikerdude said...

Well its fun that you let your blog be for a month or so between posts, so that your readers (like 'war-and-pieces' suthanthira and hari 'i-don't-get-irony' prasad ) knock themselves out before you cast a new pearl.

But, yennough I say. Quickly quickly write off one new post,samaththu illa?

Kadambari said...

Please post.

prabhu said...

Real tamil penn are not born to the weak and impotent society( called to be a forward class).They are living in the famine farm land across south Tn. They dont have water to drink, food to eat, poverty, poverty and poverty everywhere and mostly they dont blog. stop this shit and call ur self a useless girl.

themoronmagnet said...

One must admit that these comments are a lot of fun, but your blog is more fun. So.

And why do bloggers keep saying something is “puke worthy”? Do people in the real world ever do that? If I don’t like a piece of writing or a movie or a song or anything that I didn’t create, wouldn’t it be natural to say that:
… I hated it
… I disliked it
But why toss cookies? Usually the person who seems the most idiotic is the one who actually pukes. Which is why non pukers invented the barf bag.

Sampige said...

I am the exact opposite!! I am asal Kannada Ponn/KanBram, brought up in Namma Madras(you can tell when I left Inddia ;-)). I am just doubling over reading your blog! My husband had to be arm-twisted into marrying somebody from Madras! He is asal Bangalore. Keep it going. Keep it anonymous.

Vijay said...

Really nice.

The packing story is so similar to what would happen at my house.

Ajay said...

I can smell filter kaapi and hear Suprabhatham in your blog...beautiful, sublime works.

With every post I relive the happier days of my life when I went to perumaaL temple in Venkatanarayana Road and shopped in Pondy Bazaar.

Please...ohh please dont stop.

RAJ said...

hahaha... there are just a few blogs which truly gets my attention.

not being a different blogger just for the sake of being different is truly refreshing..

keep up the good work. U'll never know how mch u'll miss chennai and kodambakkam till u get out of that place..

ebin said...

"...and collects stamps forever"
That was touching, really.

Krishnan said...

அசல் தமிழ்ப் பெண் ஏன் தமிழில் எழுதக்கூடாது? உங்கள் ஆங்கில நடை போலவே தமிழும் உங்களால் எழுத முடியும். கொஞ்சம் கல்கி, தேவன் எழுத்துக்களைத் தேடிப் படியுங்கள்.

அது போகட்டும், 'அசல்' என்பது 'அஸ்லி' என்னும் வட சொல்லின் மருஊ?

சும்மா ஃப்ரீயா விடு...

Anonymous said...

am phullu enjoying your posts Tamizh ponnu! Please keep them coming!
As for Sudhanthira's long bizarre comment - ayyo saaami. I was flabbergasted until I read her name at the very end. Then it yalllll made sense.

I call it the brainwashed dept. ;)

The Pseudonym said...

It is a strange land that we live in. People want to say things which are beyond their comprehension. One guy has actually said "Asal Tamizh ponnus live in South TN and they don't blog." The way he has put it across I would imply that the dude says if tomorrow one of those girls from South TN who live in poverty starts blogging or becomes rich she would stop being a Tamizh Ponnu. why are you defining what someone has to be like.This is a global era dude. We want to leave all this nonsense of defining how a group of people are supposed to behave? If you understand what I am saying then please STFU and don't reply to what I just said. Otherwise I would'nt bother saying THE words to you.