Friday, November 18, 2011

A northie's guide to attending south Indian weddings ;-)

Dedicated to all North Indians who visited a Chennai marriage and kept thinking all the while , “Where’s the actual marriage bey ? “

Ok ,let’s get this straight .
North Indian marriages are all about dance , drinking and checking out ‘maal’ .
South Indian marriages are all about hogging ,hogging and hogging .

So , when you did receive the decorated marriage card ,the first question in your mind would be “What to wear “
Seriously ,who cares .
If you wana look ‘different’ , wear something ‘non-white’
( Just put on a white shirt or kurta and you’d be lost between all those uncles with STARCH white vetti-satta , well oiled moustaches and the gold chains . )

You might also wana take sun goggles . All that kanjeevaram silk  ( tamil mamis brigade ) , the shimmeing salwar-suits and the gold chains can cause a bit of glare in the light ;-)

So , my advice is .. put on something decent and (hopefully) plain .
 ( yes my dear , all your glittering sherwanis , achkans and ‘baraat’ suits can take a back seat please .In south , you need to be looking decent macha )

The very entrance can confuse you .
Instead of the “Pinky weds Tinku  “ glow signs that you are accustomed to , you’ll find huge posters with ( maybe ) the bride and groom’s picture somewhere .
The rest of the poster will be covered with macho looking musclemen type uncles . Please do not get confused , they are not from either of the families .
 And that old uncleji on the wheelchair  with huge goggles on .. yeah , he’s definitely NOT the great-grandfather .
And sometimes ,the docile omnipresent Amma will be welcoming you with folded hands too ( BEAT that Air India ! )

Inside , as your eyes will instinctively search for the ‘bar’ and the ‘disco floor’ . You might be a tad bit disappointed :P
Instead , look around . There will be a classical singer somewhere ( if it’s a good enough marriage ) , and ( I hate to stress the point again) no ! she’s also not one of the relatives .It’s not one of our marriages where the mami/chachi/bua/mausi will jump to the stage to show off their *cough* talents !

Go ahead ,on the stage .
Now THAT will look familiar . Stand , click a few photos .
Your friend ( bride or groom ) will be looking extra happy , permanent smile fixed on their faces and shaking hands as if you just gave them their dream job  !

So , when you come down and get over the light flashing in your eye you’ll be like “bhai , ab kya ?”
Look around ,you’ll see a huge crowd moving in one direction . go on , follow it !
The insides of the hall ( with it’s long parallel tables and people eating like there’s no tomorrow ) just might remind you of Hogwarts main hall .
That is , If you can replace stew with ‘kolambu’ , Pumpkin juice with ‘butter milk’ and Cornish pasties with ‘mysore paak’  ;-)

Just sit down and wait for the banana to appear . Ask for as much as you want . And tension mat le , they’ll WAIT for you to finish before rolling the paper .
The best bio-degradable enviourment friendly method ever !
No dirty plates , no fighting over buffet ( but trust me , there is no greater pleasure than pushing through a throng of hungry people and grab that last piece of paneer on your plate )
But like I said , in south people are decent yaa :D
*for more rules of eating , refer to the last blog * !

With that done , you might as well walk out quietly .
The bride and groom will still be standing in the same position ,no use going and saying “Bye da . Enjoy panna “ ;-)
Or give any other dirty advices that you have in mind .
Actually , chuck that . Think of yourself in that position one day and you’ll turn around on your heels asap !
But …
They’ll catch you at the door . Don’t get frightened . You didn’t do anything .
( It’s NOT that hot girl’s dad whom you were checking out desperately )
Just an innocent ‘return gift’ ( as if you hadn’t stuffed well enough already ).
Smile at that unknown uncleji .
He’ll hug you ,smiling full on all the time . Ask you if you want more packets ( Don’t be besharam .. Control your freeloader instincts for once  )

And then before you know , Amma is bidding you bye-bye again ! :D

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A northie's guide to visiting a South Indian household ;-)

*Dedicated to all those north Indians who visited their friends for pongal and left with a weird feeling inside * :D

Let’s make it clear at the outset :  visiting a South Indian household is not like going over to your Pammi Aunty ; Bittu uncle or your chachi /mami / ‘apna yaar’ ka ghar .

If Sarvanan/Arun/Ganesh/Karthik/Karthikeyan/Murugan/Bala pats you on the back and says , “Aye vaa da .. come over to my house machi”

Or any mixture of Lakshmi and Priya ( cumon … LakshmiPriya ; Hjaripriya ; maniPriya ; KanthaPriya ; SriLakshmi ; PriyaDarshini ; DhanaLakshmi ) peer through their glasses and coyly ask you ,
“Vaangu pls . My amma is making Sakar pongal . You will like it very much “

You are in for a test of your character , discipline , sincerity , manners and your ability to stuff your “amit”ness in your mouth .

First lesson , you know how you usually walk up to your bed and sometimes just fall asleep with your shoes hanging by the side of the bed ?
Ok , not allowed . You will see a pile of shoes outside the house . Keep them there .
Your friend won’t say anything . But he/she will do it themselves and then slowly walk in , very slowly .
And don’t worry , nobody will steal them ( it will take time getting used to that )

Step two , you will probably be introduced to the grandmother first .
Bend at your waist and do a proper ‘vankaam paathi’ or just fall at her feet .
She’ll scoop your face in her hands and talk something  in tamil , all the while smiling at you . Just nod and smile back and say “ama ama .. nalla irikae . Nandri paathi”
Then she’ll wave her hand at the dinning table , DO NOT go there first . Let your friend lead you .

You’ll be introduced to other family members next . All of them will be so nice and polite to you and shower you with such attention that you’ll begin to feel suspicious .
( Remember how your friend’s mum back home would shout at your friend first . But she’ll throw accusing angry glances at you ?)

The dad will ask you about ,
“How is studies going ?” .Say good
“How are you liking Chennai ? “ . Say good .
“How is everyone back home  ?” .Say good .

Tell aunty , “Rangoli is very nice aunty” ( Before that , CHECK whether they made it that day or not )

BROWNIE POINT : Bow your head before the temple in the house . The paathi will LOVE you :D
Then when you are finally in your friend’s room , you can breathe a sigh of relief .
But remember , not too loudly .
Yes , the very fact that people are not shouting from one room to another can be a BIT unnerving for a north Indian . But you’ll get used to that .

Five mins. in your friend’s room and you’ll be called over to eat .

1.Everyone will be staring at you and smiling . Don’t feel creeped out .
2.Don’t ask for a spoon , unless it’s been kept . Everyone will go about as if India declared an emergency , and you’ll feel guilty .
Plus , they’ll give you a new spoon for every course from then on .
3.Let aunty or your friend serve you for the FIRST time . Make it clear that you DO not want their help . It will come handy later .
4.Mix whatever is given with the rice . Save rasam for the last and crush the ‘aplam’ ( yes , the thing that looks like ‘paapad’ ) over the rice .
5.The uncle/dad/grandfather will give you some advice about how to eat what . just follow it .
6.When you ask for a second helping , tell aunty to STOP when you see have your fill .
Trust me , feeding a guest is like showing affection in the household .
And with that much of affection , one might puke :D
7.Never praise a dish to the skies . It’s automatically assumed that you have been starved of that delicacy since your childhood .
And they’ll compensate for all those years during that one dinner :D

Once you survive the eating exercise , be happy .
You’ve just been accepted as a part of the household . The granny feels happy that her duty has been done .
And aunty feels happy that you haven’t felt the ‘lack’ of anything !
And uncle feels awesome that he has taught you a few south Indian customs .

While going out , follow the entry procedures ( reverse order ) . Say “thanks” as many times as you can .
And keep the smile going . You have emerged a hero ! :-D

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Of RaOne , temples and marekting ..

Yes , the deep connecting thread between RaOne ; Vellore’s golden temple and life .
( so much for the opening line suspense . Chetan bhagat would’ve been so proud ! )

I have said this before , I’ll say it again .
Shahrukh Khan is THE best salesman India has ( we’ll omit any discussion about his acting skills for now )
He’s ruthless ,smart ,manipulative , swift with the tongue , dosen’t give a damn about being a “superstar” and will go to any limits to sell whatever he wants to .
I was in Vellore this diwali .. and while surfing through channels , I chance upon SRK on JAYA TV !
Talking on and on about how he loves can’t wait to work in tamil movies , and how the most talented people come from this state and how Rajni sir is the biggest superstar we have .
And how he wanted to pay a ‘tribute’ to Chitti in the movie !

Needless to say , the movie turned out to be ‘below expectations’  ( if you carried your brains into the theatre , that is )
The so called ‘tribute’ turned out to be a 1 minute something scene .
North Indians found it funny ( cumon …there was a vaccum after the Rajni jokes went out of fashion ) and bought tickets …
South Indians flocked to the theatre ( at least the first weekend ) to see him and money flowed in ..
Who cares if the movie was C.R.A.P ?
Selling tactic ? You bet my gluteus maximus !

Around the same time , I went for a Vellore sightseeing tour .
Have you ever been to the Jalakanteswarar temple in Vellore fort ? Do go .
It stands old ,strong and proud .The inner sanctrum so serene , lined by huge statues , the central ‘shivling’ and an aura of inner peace .
It smells of stones so ancient that you can easily imagine Tamil kings praying homage to Siva and ‘devdasis’ dancing in those halls .

On the other hand have you been to the Golden ‘temple’ ?
If you even happen to go there .. carry your lunch box/music system/Frisbees or whatever you usually carry to resorts or picnic places .
The place is ( forgive my lack of diplomacy ) an obscenity in the name of temple !
Flowing gardens , music and mantras playing , huge adorned pillars , ticket counters , hospitality that can beat Air India’s air hostesses any day .
Chuck that … a huge inner temple entirely GOLD plated !
( It was like , Bappi Lahiri’s dream house come true )
But was it a temple ? no .

Then again , who cares ?
The guy who runs it has his photos everywhere . People come , donate money , gape in wonder and put their faith in the self proclaimed incarnation ‘gruruji’ and the Goddess .

My great-grandmom used to pray in her ‘pooja ghar’ . It was nothing but one half of a store-room with old faded photos of Gods and a few bronze statues .
But the way I felt God in there , I’ve never felt it anywhere else .

Bottom line ?
Is that what we have come to ?
Publicity ? Show off ? Materialism at it’s pinnacle ?
Maybe it’s time God should hire a publicity or HR agent .

Before people ‘invest’ incorrectly In faith ..