Thursday, August 7, 2008

En iniya thamizh makkaLe

Lend me your ears, my Thatha loves to say. Quoting literature and witticisms that are attributed to dead people is his favourite past-time.

When I would dawdle and not spend my time studying, he would tell to nobody in particular, in youth I wasted time and now time wastes me, as he would walk past.

If character is lost, everything is lost, he said with a flourish when yet another boy with suspect credentials had to be dropped from my matrimonial race.

A cliché to dismiss my ticking biological clock doesn’t seem to reassure Appa.

Our ATP turns twenty five in another fifteen days, Appa announces mournfully.

The last month has been a bit of a respite, the Aadi month is not just the best time to pick up saris, veshtis and towels for the whole year, but it also helps to stop the assault on my self worth. Albeit temporarily.

Did Nano Boy write to you, Appa asks me suddenly?

I cringe and do my bumbling routine. Nano Boy is the newest boy to be included in the race. No, he doesn’t work for an evil car enterprise; his work is in the area of the more noble Carbon Nanotubes.

When Nano Boy’s reference was provided by Warren Road Pattu Maami, Thatha beamed. He even made some DuPont reference and said, better living through chemistry for our ATP.

I wasn’t sure. Carbon Nanotubes? Hello, I am ATP from Madras and my husband is a Carbon Nanotubist?

When his parents came to check me out, to do a preliminary screening, they gushed on and on about their son. He is very bright, Nano Appa said. HE IS VERY BRIGHT, Nano Amma added.

Appa and Thatha nodded appreciatively.

In the absence of Amma, Periamma took on the role of belling the cat and asking the uncomfortable questions.

Nano Boy will be thirty two this year, she started.

Nano Amma and Nano Appa squirmed. Only after the Aadi Maasam (last year) did we take his jadagam out, Nano Amma said snootily. He was only interested in doing his PhD in *insert something that none of us understood*, Nano Appa offered in manner of explanation.

Age is just a number, Thatha reassured them sounding a bit like a breezy socialite. Periamma rolled her eyes and I began to wonder what Thatha had been smoking lately.

After some incomprehensible conversation and that the adults had on nanotechnology, they turned their attention to me. Nano Amma stared at me moodily and was looking at my head. She was probably counting the number of slides (clips?) that Periamma had brutally inserted into my hair to keep it in place.

My son is also very interested in music, Nano Amma began. I had to remind myself that the letter attached to my horoscope spoke in great detail about my love for and prowess in Carnatic music.

Only science and music interests him. You will need to woo him, she added conspirationally.

An email id was given and they left

A wedding before the age of twenty five, Appa beamed.

Thatha offered some advice from Shakespeare, you should be wooed and not made to woo.

I wrote my first email in October. Not flamboyantly. Not timidly. But honestly. Or at any rate, as honest as I could be. He wrote back soon enough, a wordy email. Sounding high-brow and nerdy, clearly designed to knock me out.

I was totally knocked out. I ought to have put an end to it after the very first email, but a vulgar curiosity and large quantities of boredom kept me going.

My favourite raagam is Vivahapriya, he said once.

What kind of person would like Vivahapriya? How many songs exist in this raagam? Isaiyil Thodanguthamma, from the highly pretentious Hey Ram? Why can’t I meet an ordinary sort of boy, you know someone who likes the more mundane (and very lovely) Reethi Gowla?

After every email that he sent me, I had to Google for stuff. His choice of literature, his desire to link mundane events and occurrences to science in general and Carbon Nanotubes in particular. His initial horoscope had failed to mention his middle name – Pedantic.

The only good thing that came out of all of this was, Amma and Appa put their hunt on a hold for a bit. Then one day, Nano Boy emailed me saying that he had met his to-be-wife and she worked in the area of Nanotoxicology. We must keep in touch and you ought to come for my wedding, he insisted.

Sure, I said and blocked him on my chat list. I decided that Amma and Appa didn’t need to know.

That the world’s dullest boy didn’t want to marry me, was a cross that I didn’t wish to bear.

But, since I began to sleep and live India time and not that of some strange country, Appa had probably caught on and the hunt resumed.

As I helped Thatha with tallying his expenses of July ’08 he said, ATP! You must accept finite disappointment but not lose infinite hope.

Clearly I needed to have whatever Thatha was having. Thatha then asked me to call up all our relatives and remind them about this.

Really! Who cares Thatha? And our family is large, but I am sure this will be a highly insignificant contribution, I tell him.

Be the change that you want to see, he begins. I hastily reach for the phone. I cannot handle any more pop philosophy. And besides, a black-out is comforting at some level.

I hop over to Periamma’s house and tell her about our family’s contribution to society. She has been a little sad lately, her elder daughter A Akka, who turned twenty eight sometime back, has decided to marry a Bengali boy.

They are Brahmins, but they eat fish, she told Paati.

Periamma is upset. I will not go for the wedding, she told me. Okay, but don’t forget the black-out, I remind her.

As I am leaving, she expresses her commiserations about the loss of Nano Boy. Our Tamizh Boys are no good, why don’t you marry some North Indian fellow from your Journalism School, she asks?

Be the change you want to see, I think

Sure. I will think about it, I say instead.

Back home, Appa wants me to book our tickets to go to Calcutta. We are representing the family at A Akka’s wedding.

Appa tells Chitappa, what is there? We need to be modern and change with the times.

The time is always right to do what is right, Thatha added.

And sometimes, that could be all of eight minutes.


neha vish said...

Such utter brilliance! Nano boy said NoNo va? (Sorry, adjust).


Sriram said...

You are becoming increasingly plastic and predictable.

Bala said...

Aah.. The travails of Payan Parthufying.. Btw have you thought of starting a Asal Tamil Thatha column to get thatha's views in.. He seems to have a way of putting things.. Who knows.. being asal tamil penn's thatha he might as well out do her in blogging..

Deepti said...

Nano finaLLY SAID Nono, eh? And 32? Wow. Did he look younger than his age? :)

Anonymous said...

be the change, ATP!

Missed you..

tangled said...

What an excellent idea! Another one of the reasons I wonder what it might have been like to live in Channai...

(Other thoughts are not fit to be in the public arena.)

Nandini Vishwanath said...

LOL, Ph.Ds, don't I know them? My husband is Ph.D in Microfabrication and lasers jazz. God knows what that is :D

anantha said...

Ponnu - Hey Ram was a work of art, and it was mind blowing! And Rani Mukherjee had her you know what bitten too. Landmark cinema, i say!

Karthik said...

Brilliant post as usual :)

Chaya said...

brilliant post. and nano boy sounds like a dork anyway.

Anonymous said...

Briliant post, ATP, but I guess your ear aches from hearing this. My stomach aches from laughing. If you manage to lay your hands on Thatha's stuff do pass on some of it me ;-)

Nano boy? Shouldn't it be Nano Mama!!

Nimmy said...


ROFL. Hilarious!! :-) I simply enjoyed reading this post...! Keep writing! :-) Hoping that you'll find someone while you're in Kolkatta!! Despite the fact that we'll not get to read such hilarious posts once that happens! Hee hee :)

Kadambari said...

Hey Ram is a pretentious movie? Tsk.

Kamini said...

Your Thatha is an absolute scream! He should be writing for Chinese fortune cookies!
Thank goodness you escaped the clutches of the Nano Boy - can you imagine how unbearably pompous he will be in a few years' time?

buddy said...

lovely post!

Baidik said...

Bengali boys are good and chammuthu:)

Tips while in Calcutta: 1. Have cake at Flurries 2. Take a ride below the Howrah Bridge 3. Go chopping @ Gariahhatta 4. Pick up stuff from college dtreet 5. 'Dont' goto K.C Das 6. Instead, try the non descript sweet shops that dot the city. The Roshogulla's there are as good.

Anonymous said...

after such a long wait! please write more often.

also, its not a good idea to be impressed by fancy names. if only you knew what these nano research people did.

and its not like i want to promote myself or anything, but i wrote this about t.nagar and i imagine you or other t.nagarites might be interested.
non t.nagarites: enga area ulla varathe

viswajith.k.n said...

interesting read!

WA said...

Loved the post ATP

Somya said...

Hi !!

Just stumbled upon ur blog.. And have sat up till 2 AM reading right back till your first post(including comments!!)..Amazing read...

So many phrases, incidents seem so familiar..just much more well written..

Keep it up, ATP.. u have a fan here!

Gopalan Ramasubbu said...

Eloquence personified as usual, ATP.Try writing a book on your favorite topic!

Krishnan said...

Worth the wait ATP. Nano boy's loss is ___'s gain.

Meera Vijayann said...

Just curious..Did you go to Asian College of Journalism??

Sandeep said...

Sooper blaag ATP :)
Stumbled in here from someplace and must say that this is the best thing to come along from Madras since filter kaapi....
Brilliance bordering on the profound :)

prabhu said...

good read

Rima Leh Shaw ;) a.k.a. Swee said...

I've been following your blog for a long time now.
You're already married, aren't you?
To words, I mean. :P :)

flaneur said...

Age is just a number, Thatha reassured them sounding a bit like a breezy socialite.

your descriptive writing mixed with clairvoyance into realistic situations give a certain originality and character to your essays.

Keep writing..I enjoy your stories!

prabhu said...

The article has your name :-)

Nilu said...

While I agree with Neha that this is a brilliant post, I have some trouble with the writing style that has one sentence per paragraph -- somehow telling the reader that the writer thinks less of him. Or her.

Not that there is anything wrong with it. Yet.

Zeppelin said...

nano boy..huh.. more like bubble boy.

and thanks for the little tidbit about Vivahapriya.. never knew about this one before...have always thought that all these so called hamsanadam sounding songs were...well, hamsanadam, with a mix of all kinds of swarams, just because it is film music.


longblackveil said...

Yay. Nice dropping in here. Some of your commentators are really nasty. And patronising. Tchihh. *One punt on their backsides*

complicateur said...

"Age is just a number, Thatha reassured them sounding a bit like a breezy socialite. Periamma rolled her eyes and I began to wonder what Thatha had been smoking lately." - Sex-and-the-city-Samantha Mark beedigal perhaps?

And Vivahapriya? Naan thought Hamsanaadham for the longest time! Thanks for enlightening.

Aravind Raghu said...

you can chat with me and reject me..if that will make you feel better :D..

anantha said...

Your name is Sriya va? :O Nice name. But Tamizh jaadaiye illaye??

Amrita Bhashyam said...

What about all the boys you rejected? Tell us about that too. Please.

jay said...

nice post.. love the parts about your thatta.. keep writing :-)

Newbie_Blogger said...

Can you teach me how to identify raagas?


Anonymous said...

Yes, Reetigaulai is a good filter. Anyone who doesn't like it should be immediately struck off the list.

Arvind said...

Was a good read and worth the wait :-) You should write often!

Meera Vijayann said... your mum Usha Narayanan?

tech said...

"Tatvamariya Tarama" is one of my favourites in Reeti Gowla. A magnificent ragam, no doubt.

Zaara said...

Ur funny, but ur Thatha takes the cake. Great post!

Anonymous said...


Thatha rocks. Nice nostalgia too. Keep them gems of wit and wisdom coming.

Something I had written, that has sunk under the avalanche of blog posts. Thought I should fish it out to share some laughs on the travails of South Indian arranged marriages.

Prasanthi said...

Wow!! I love your thatha's comments..Sound so true..
Had similar experiences recently..instead of a nano guy, I met an OS guy :) Had my fill for a few days and really couldn't tolerate it much.. Guess being in a different country or having a different nationality (one of my close chinese friend had similar experiences..:) ) made me think we are all in the same boat.. Keep posting.... :)

Funny Bangaylore said...

Unnala ,am getting better at tamizh ! trust me, i have been able 2 pick up more nuances from the language u use.. Sariya pesa theriyala .. aana, oru azhavuku pesa, purunjikira mudiyam ippo..

SEV said...

Great post, and beautifully written :) Will keep checking back for more.. should be wooed and not made to woo.

Fantasies of a Lifetime said...

Great post :D. . .Love your thatha's philosophy :D

gugiinsingapore said...

IO I so know wat u'r saying ma.. went thru this in my spring chicken age too :)