Friday, April 11, 2008

Fourteen Postal Holidays

Last year when T Anna came to India, he downloaded several applications and softwares into our computer. Out of reverence for his IIT education, we began to download updates and newer versions, that promised to enhance our experience in some manner.

So, it isn’t such a new thing that Appa has been asked to release a new version of my horoscope into the market. It means things will get better and move faster, T Anna offers in manner of analogy.

I think, it was sometime in August last year, when a daughter-in-law was acquired, Amma decided that it was time that I should be married off as well. A discussion with Mambalam Maama confirmed that, the stars were shining bright and all set to conspire with other stars. And an alliance shall be sealed before we can even complete saying J A A D A G A M, Mambalam Maama promised.

The experience of having gone through four hundred and twenty seven horoscopes and letters that came for T Anna (over a period of three years), had made Amma and Appa wise on things that they ought to include in my horoscope letter and more importantly, things that they needed to gloss over.

After a lot of debate and inputs from Madras Thatha, Trichy Thatha, Pichhu Maama Thaatha and Mambalam Maama, the same was ready. The final version had: a hand-written covering letter, the actual horoscope that showed the residence of various stars and a two-page description of me and the clan that I came from.

At the neighbourhood Xerox shop, Appa took ten copies and after Amma dotted the corners with turmeric, the same was placed in front of the idols of the god.

For a few days, Appa and Amma waited. They hoped that, between god’s blessings and the word-of-mouth of the T Nagar Maamis, there would be a heavy demand for ATP’s horoscope. But, nobody came. Amma spent an extra fifteen minutes in her morning Poojai after that. The first breakthrough came because of Ruku Maami, when she recommended her brother’s son as - perfect for me. The boy in question was an engineer, which got the parental approval. The boy was also tall, which was necessary. Ruku Maami said a million times, he is fair. As a family that doesn’t approve of male objectification, we were amused and annoyed. The boy’s family was from Mogappair.

Mogappair va, Amma asked a little suspiciously, even while she was searching her memory for some Maami she knew, who would do a character check. Not willing to let go of a tall, fair engineer as his prospective son-in-law, Appa chastised Amma for being a Geographist.

For the next few weeks, it was referred to as the Mogappair Case. Appa would climb up and down the three floors of stairs three times a day to see if anyone had dropped a letter into our mail-box. As he would huff and puff up into our house and walk in empty handed, Amma would tell him that the postal department had only twice a day delivery. This would start an argument and finally Amma would say something like, may be it is a postal holiday today.

At the mention of anything to do with the Indian Postal Service, Madras Thatha would perk up and announce with some pride that there were only fourteen Postal holidays this year. Since, Madras Thatha’s Appa was in the Indian Post and Telegraph Service and Madras Thatha is a philatelist, so anything to do with postal services appeals to him. Madras Thatha would collect stamps, both commemorative and definitive ones and has promised to give them to S – the only one to display sufficient enthusiasm for the hobby. All those horoscopes that came for T Anna, Madras Thatha would slowly and scientifically peel of the stamps and stick them in an old diary (1997) filled with simultaneous equations that I had tried to solve. So, even he was disappointed that, Mogappair Case wasn’t responding to us.

A week later, a thick envelope arrived, through a local courier. Madras Thatha was unimpressed, but Amma and Appa were relieved. Appa read the letter aloud to everyone, as superlatives after superlatives were used to describe the potential groom. I already didn’t like the Mogappair Boy and chose to maintain a stoic silence. A phone call later, a photograph of mine was demanded for. Please courier it, Mogappair Maama said.

Courier va, Madras Thatha said and shook his head in sadness.

Why are they in such a hurry, Paati asked suspiciously?

But the photo was sent and a response was waited for. Appa waited for a courier with a photograph of the “very attractive”, “very fair” and “athletic and fit” boy. None came. Two weeks later when I was coming back home, I saw a fat envelope in the mail-box. When I got it upstairs, Appa and Amma almost pounced on me. My photograph had been returned, with a short and curt note – wishing my parents good luck.

When I came out after having washed my face and feet, Appa told to Amma, I would never send my daughter to Mogappair anyway.

I couldn’t help smiling at that.

That was the start, after that several letters came. Some came through the courier while some others came through snail mail. Some came with adequate postage stamp while some others came with less than the amount of postage stamps that were needed. Some came from T Nagar and some from the world outside of T Nagar. Some very cryptically written and some that was meant to completely sweep you away with all the content. Some proudly proclaimed their pedigree and others sounded apologetic about the lack of one. Some traced the lineage back a few generations while others didn’t even talk about the parents. Some were self absorbed while others were self deprecatory. Appa and Amma would sort and resort them, and then put them into different plastic covers. An old diary was used to note down when letters were sent. Those who wanted us to email them, were viewed with suspicion.

Some came from places that would make Amma pull out the atlas and look for these places. Someone wrote from a place called Akhnoor, in Jammu, no less. Amma was shocked, it will be so cold for my ATP, she said mournfully. Someone wrote from Durgapur. At least it has a National Institute of Technology, Amma said after some help from Google. Some left us feeling conflicted, like a proud father writing about his super achiever son, but in an envelope that said - Bhaba Atomic Research Centre. Between our reverence for old world and cutting edge technology companies was also our dislike for people who stole office stationery.

And through all of this, Thatha collected a large number of stamps. First, cutting them out with a pair of scissors and then soaking them in a mug of water and rubbing away the envelope bits as well as the glue. It is a scientific process, he insisted.

Sometime back, Appa did some calculations. It seems that, the neighbourhood photocopier charges Re 1 for one page of photo-copying. That is four rupees for a set and forty rupees for the ten that Appa gets every month. Amma proclaimed that it equaled the price of one kilo of Vendakkai and one and a half litres of Aavin milk. The dramatic tone that Amma used made me feel guilty about this financial burden. S, offered to photocopy horoscopes at the Students Xerox store, where she gets her Chemistry notes done. At 25 paise a page, it was an offer Appa couldn’t refuse. And fifty copies of my horoscope were taken.

The ink is a little faint, Amma complained. Thatha took out his royal blue ink pen, cleaned it, filled it with black ink and highlighted in each of those copies that I was born at 8:32 am and not 8:32 pm, lest someone with a vision problem were to see my horoscope.

But now, T Anna wants it to be changed.

So, one hundred and fifteen rupees of postage stamps, fifty grams of turmeric powder, twenty three boys, nine cities and one heart-break later, a new horoscope would be released into the marriage "market".

Of course, I am the same, yet different. My skin shall be a few shades lighter, my hair shall be shinier, my height a little lesser, my voice shall be lovelier and my world a little larger and overall just a little less truthful.

Tomorrow we will go to the Vadaplani Kovil, to break coconuts in view of S’s upcoming big exam. We will also break an extra coconut for the Version 2.0 release as well.

Till then, Thatha is happy with the soaking envelopes and collecting stamps. He opens his stamp notebook and shows off with great pride, a 1987 stamp of Madras Christian College and a 2003 one of the lovely Government Museum in Egmore.

When I see my lovely city in all its glory, across sixteen years, I forgive all those twenty-three boys who didn’t fall in love with my brown skin.

I only wish that my Thatha lives long, and collects stamps forever.

79 comments:

Deepti said...

Lovely. :)
How come such frequent posting?

Kadambari said...

Forget those boys, brown is absolutely gorgeous. :)

Blogeswari said...

Could relate to it so much!
Rocking post, ATP

S m i t h a said...

ROTFL... beats me how you are almost sarcastically ridiculing the whole process like it is happening to someone else?
Dammit.. im only 5'8" :(

Laksh said...

Simply super as always! Version 2.0 seems promising :)

prabhu said...

Brown is really beautiful.

Lazy Blogger said...

I am so happy with your frequent posts. I dont mind sounding like a crazy fan - your writing is incredible, and having grown up in a very similar world (but Mylapore), its a great trip down memory lane!

Dilip said...

post version 2.0 here and we will fix up ATP a good tall, fair handsome (also implies BALD and SHINING) NRI payyan from USA'va!

La vida Loca said...

nice to see u blog more frequently.

buddy said...

nice...

Suchi said...

Keep writing wonly!

But what yaa, orey bias against northwestern suburbs when you yourselves live in T.Nagar (says former Adyar-ite now resigned to the fact that amma veedu is in Mogappair..adhoon Westu).

PJ said...

You're able to find humor in all of this..That amazes me.
Wonderful post.

Vijay said...

Nice post, but with lots of hilarious sarcasm this time. :)

Sri said...

Dear ATP,

Lovely post!could perfectly relate to it!!i am also going thru the same routine so it feels nice that ur able to find humour in this...

Keep up the gud work and i hope and pray that you get a wonderful person who will love you for your talents!

Sri
PS:I love reading ur blog..

Shree said...

Wonderful post! I chanced upon yur blogspot quite recently and I must admit that I find your posts very interesting. Keep the fun going and good luck in your matrimonial endeavours!

Spacejunk said...

hahaha.. can totally relate to what happens... same situation here... but no thatha paatis at home for it !

gradwolf said...

brown is beautiful :)

your sarcasm and the underlying subjects fascinate me like no other. good you've become frequent!

Aswin Kumar said...

hey........thats nice.......more from a ATM perspective.......didnt have teh sufficient pun but made a difference......keep it going......
an ardent reader...
aswinkumar

pradeep said...

ATP,
This is an incredible blog! I have read all your posts (yes all) but this is the first time I happen to comment. You are now my favourite blogger!
Pls do update with the same frequency! :)

viswajith.k.n said...

Brown color represents Autumn. And thats the most beautiful season one can ever get...:)

ranji said...

wow that was a wonderful read. i hope the mogappir case comes across this post n bangs his head against the wall or something. you're def worth a whole lot more. go woman power!

Rainbow said...

Can completely identify with this.
Having escaped 'Paiyyan paakum padalam' for nearly 4 years, I am finally released in to the "market".

Good Job, ATP.

Prats said...

Came across your blog while reading bikerdudes...
Must say you're writing gives out so much honesty.
loved reading your latest posts, the on Yam and this one too
So well said.
Color discrimination still looms large everywhere...so why should one family lag behind.
Hope things work out well for you and you get a person who values yuo for what u are and not your color, or location

jargonz said...

I loved all the thaatha bits. Reminds me to my thaata. But the difference is , he collects radios and cars.
:) And brown is sexy..very sexy.

Bikerdude said...

Gaaahaha good one ATP! My favourite is a line from a letter that someone wrote to my parents, proposing his daughter for my brother:

"She is thrifty, but I do not have the temerity to call her a curmudgeon."

He left out the part that he was a direct descendant of William Seshappa Iyer :P

PS: Where are all the troublemaker commenters? I miss them!

Anusha said...

Mogappiar Case is getting married next month. Good riddance.

Asal Tamil Penn said...

Ayyo, I don't miss them.

maxdavinci said...

nice read, good luck with version 2.0

ebin said...

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

un said...

Before I expanded the ATP avatar in the comments section and confirmed that it's only her earring, I thought she was sticking her middle finger out.. ouch! :-D

Badri said...

This story is so similar to the story we have published called 'The Tambrahm Bride' by Kausalya Saptarishi. It is shocking how many Tam Brahm girls go through such nonsense. Time the revolted and put an end to this!

http://nhm.in/printedbook/634/The%20Tambrahm%20Bride

Fishy said...

hi ATP,

Could totally related every bit of it.. and in addition, my Father considers it necessary to act quick and send the post by courier.. So *10 at cost. When will the world stop?!!!

Arun Sundar said...

Beautifully written - serious thing on a light note.

Amrita Bhashyam said...

One does notice your fascination for government departments. ;)

Errrr... said...

Lovely!! I so completely relate with the whole thing about the brown skin and jadhagam versions and coconut breakings!!! if my Thatha were around, he'd be doing the exact same thing with the stamps! Enjoy reading your posts!

sush said...

Thats exactly what my dad does with stamps :-D

Great post! Hilarious!

aandthirtyeights said...

Oh this whole colourimeter gets to me - my Thatha once famously commented, "I am so glad that all my children and grandchildren are fair!"

And then I asked him, "I'm not your grandson anymore?"

His sheepish defence was, "Ille da. Nee paattu padarai. Karuppa inrunda parava ille. Konjam talcum powder..."

Arun Srinivasan said...

So r u still single? ;-)

Kadambari said...

Babe, Seem this and this?
Her about me says:Loves Besant Nagar. Lives in T Nagar. Heh!

kaushik said...

cha! unfortunately I am also Bharadwaaja gothram..... :)

All the best :p

Cheers!
Kaushik

Kitchu Maama said...

@ATP: It has been observed that you are blatantly ignoring the Amma's family. It hurts our sentiments. We are more interesting than the other side of the family.

@ATM: Thangai, you are invited to join my Blog. Hope the mattu-ponnu is behaving.

Kitchu Maama said...

Have overthrown the other maama. You are now invited to join my Blog.

vk said...

i've always wondered what the point of blogs was. now i know!
this is lovely...

Harini Sridharan said...

Lovely writing! and very relatable :).

And yes, hurray to brown!

Narayan said...

hahaha. nice one. i can definitely relate to all of this because of a similar torture that i am going through. oh my god - my area is so famous.

vrinda said...

this is some writing..hats off to you.your style is very remniscent of R.K.narayan....and jst as entertaining too..

RDx said...

hey Tamizh penne.... this is an awesome blog you've gotten here..
loved reading your posts...
kudos..
rather.. Vazhthukal :D
keep up the good job :)

Bikerdude said...

deepti: You have put off kannu on ATP's posting frequency. Gammunu kadandhirundha she would have continued the old momentum. Its all your fault, now please to be yeduththu solling to the party concerned.

kbpm said...

Hope the JEE went well for S.

vasukilm said...

Beautiful !! amazing social effrontery(from SAT word list ! ) ..

Idling in Top Gear said...

Well written post. Although, I wonder if tamilmatrimony and shaadi.com have an edge now over the ol' maami circuit these days.

Subha said...

Hi ATP,

I just stumbled on to your blogs & I've enjoyed all of them. The one on the "mapillai" selection process reminds me of what I endured when I was in the "kalyanam market". My sis & I had great fun sifting through the responses received for adverts in the TOI, Hindu et al. We became experts in the sort of jadaham that would match mine. Some of the responses were absolutely scatty like the guy who wrote that he held licenses for 2-wheelers, 3-wheelers, 4-wheelers, shot gut, pistol & rifle..........we wondered what exactly he was doing for a living! All's well that ends well. I've been happily married for the last 6 years to a palghat iyer whereas I am a Tiruchy iyer born & bred in kolkatta. MAybe ur parents should open up a little too? All the best & keep blogging.

Vikram said...

ATP, How are things with TMK? :)

Great writing. How is the other writing going on?

Brahmanyan said...

Nice Blog. Written from the "ringside" view.
God Bless you.

Brahmanyan.

todatamzh folk said...

I have been in the USA for 10 years now and I just de-lurked to thank you for taking me back when I was your age.

The sarcasm had me laughing for a very long time

Hip Grandma said...

loved every line.i could relate to it in my own way.But it was so 35 years back.Is it the same now?

Venky said...

beautifully written ATP!! Apdiye Ayodhya Mandapam to Swayamvaralaya tour adichaa maadhiri oru feel! Pakka pongo!

--xh-- said...

ROTFL... u write such well, dipped in sarcasam... :-) kudos to you and ur blog.. hope V2.0 hit teh market with lot more sucess.. afetr all, likesome one said 'if it is not a sucess, call it V1.0'.
may be I also should release V2.0 to teh market... :)

Nandita said...

Chanced upon your blog some two weeks ago from the Desi Girl's blog and was completely engrossed in reading all your posts one after the other...now waiting for more :)

You have an excellent style of writing and being a Tamnizh Penn myself, can identify with almost everything you write...

Warm regards

Pradeep Mohan said...

You seem to be a node with very high indegree in such a very large graph. This is just awesome

arundati said...

this is hilarious...just the right doses of sarcasm and jest!! fabulous...i hope you find a soulmate....damn the horrorscopes...err horoscope

Priya Sivan said...

Interesting narration, kept me glued and smiling, till the end. Chanced upon this post while browsing :)

Madhu said...

This is just the begining ATP. Wait for events to happen during and after marriage. We will be literally criticized and commented by the new family. We have to treat them as if they have jumped down to earth straight from heaven and we are some mere mortals. Can't wait to read that post of yours. All the very best.

This is my first visit here. Came here from my friend Laksh's blog. You have an excellent writing skill. Keep up the good work.

piriyamudan amma said...

Hi
Raj told me about your blogspot and I feel sad that I missed it all these days. Your Trichy thatha paatti remind me of my Mannargudi thatha paatti and I had my madras paatti too. lovely and enjoyable post

Sudarshan said...

Vanakkam akka.

I also belong to the Bharadwajam gotharma and I am turning 23 this month (hence akka! :)) I stumbled upon this blog only today and found some really interesting posts. Keep up the good work!

Venkat R. said...

Asala asathitinga! Too nice and welcome such good blogs
RVR

Nandita said...

Eppo adutha post ATP? Waiting...

Commie Comrade said...

Saw this aa? He is very much a TC person, no?

Put new post.

Thulasi Kakkat said...

AasamsakaL :)

I'm a big fan of your writing

Divya said...

stunning post..something I can really identify with...one progressive chap in our family just turned me down, after indirectly proposing (this is all my Mom's conjecture but!) recently..Mom was heartbroken, I didn't mind really, I don't even know what the guy looks like. But my Jaadagam has been kept ready for sometime now, being in hostel, I'm not even sure if my parents have 'released' it..
But go with the mysterious act on your blog, I'm also trying it..never know, it might bear some fruit! (get someone to fall in love with your soul type thing)

Floydgal said...

I can sooo relate to this blog. This has been happening at home for the last THREE years now, and still no mappilai!

Where have all the good Tamil boys gone;)!?

just another blog victim said...

absolutely love your posts. cant wait to read more

- an iyengar bharadwaja gothram penn.

Vidyut said...

I thought you would certainly have something to say about the Paatu Bhagavathar we met the other day. :D

The Dumb Belle said...

The Dumb Belle hates Tam-Brahm boys. She finds them uniquely stupid and brilliantly ugly. The Dumb Belle doesn't want to have ugly children. She suggests that all women look elsewhere.

jargonz said...

Update pannungo!

Arv said...

I can relate to your post. It will always be a process to be loved and hated. LOL...

- A Srivatsa Gothram Iyengar.

Deepa said...

Version 2.0. Thats a nice term!

Harini said...

right dose of sarcasm that helps victims of the color biased racism in the "marriage market" relate themselves....
a "got to finish reading the post" no matter if you are in your office and your colleague passes by and sees you smiling at your monitor continuously...

Brown is beauty....
Keep going tamizh penn....

Bala said...

Hi,

I don't know you but reading your blogs makes me feel that I am living with you and everything is happening before me.

You writing is really good and I would hope that you keep writing.

All the best.
B U