Wednesday, March 25, 2009


"So where did we come from?" I asked. And my grandmother gave me the old Iyer lady’s equivalent of a finger, proceeding to slurp her rasam with sudden gusto. Appa looked pointedly away at a spot on the wall, concentrating suddenly on it. For a family obsessed with its Iyer ness this was definitely off-beat. No one would admit how and when it happened, but it did. And its repercussions were felt even today in the later generations.

Like most protagonists of a certain age I had delved deeply into my family’s history and discovered certain truths, which no one was willing to explain. My parents are very liberal and open minded with regard to love marriages, as long as it is not me who is doing the loving. Somehow my grandmother and mother seem to harbor the notion that I am a stud-muffin of gargantuan proportions and that some harlot will seduce me into marrying her and swapping bodily fluids with her (probably just one point where mother-in-law and daughter-in-law agree, but I digress). So when I led a long and mostly inconclusive argument about our origins and trying to figure out if anyone had transgressed the noble traditions of arranged marriage within my family I stumbled upon it. The more I thought the more evidence I got. People, places, names, phrases, why even the Gods that adorned our pooja-room.

We have Telugu blood in our family I concluded. So did anyone in last century elope? I asked my grandmother and she shuddered. Did we have arranged marriage with other linguistic groups. I asked in chaste Marathi and Appa admonished me likewise, in unchaste Marathi. Mind your language Appa, but pray tell me how did this happen? No one, all arranged marriage only and grandma closed the topic with her air of finality.

As I staggered with my new found knowledge I looked for support. Evidence apparently didn’t count for enough. Our ancestral village was Anantapur AP, within its’ very heart. Far away from the Kaveri or any other water body associated with Tamizhness. Our clan-deity, Tirupati. All the ancestral property we would have had but for evil zamindars (this is often used to reiterate the supposed greatness of our lineage) was in what is present day Chitoor. But the one thing that clinches it: eat my grandmother’s thakkali thokku without steam emanating from your ears or sweat drenching your face. So I went from family member to family member in vain hopes of getting a past legitimate “love-marriage” so that I could now pursue my Assamese love with zeal and woo her.

“Telugu-Tamil all are same pa no difference” Ramudu mama said, licking avakka pickle off his fingers.

“In days of yore, everywhere south was Madras presidency; you don’t know anything about that” Shanta maami screamed taking a break from watching Gemini TV.

“Didn’t you learn Carnatic music, you numbskull, similar culture. All arranged” Subudu periapppa reiterated all the while tracking constituency boundaries across Telengana.

“No we aren’t Telugu, don’t get ideas in your head” Savitri chitti said, going off to fight with her borthers over a paddy field in Guntur.

“Lite teesko da” said my cousin smirking at my futile attempts.

I have decided. I shall woo my girl in Assamese style. I shall sing Bengali love songs from Charulata to her. I shall quench her thirst with tall glasses of lassi, feed her undhiyu and dance the lavni with her. We will ring in vishu and she shall pray for my long lasting life keeping vraths on karva chauth.

Jai hind!

Offence takers: Don’t take offence. No slights to Telugus (I am partly one). Or anyone else for that matter.


Gradwolf said...

oh that is why they call every southie madrasi eh? Who knew!

Loved it...

Prashanti :) said...

wow...who is the assamese girl btw ????? I know a fair part of assamese... want lessons ???

ki khobor :D

crumpledpapers said...

Assamese girl? long shot! try running this by your mother... anyways you have a filter that allows only iyer girls into your vision. everyone else is like a sister to you! you learn't the pledge with the words "All Indians are my brothers and all non-Iyers are my sisters"

but good thought. reminiscent of youthful rebellion

Anonymous said...

May be you should change your last name from 'Iyer' to 'Anantapuramvari' or 'Tiruveedhula' or some long Gult-bram last name adding Sarma or Sastry in the end. Welcome to the Gult club! And Good luck with the Ahomi girl!

swatimala said...

who's the assamese girl???

i loved the wooing ka formula though

Vivek said...

The Iyer equivalent of showing the finger is slurping rasam!
You have an idea as to how irritating that gets! HA HA HA
Nice One.

The way things are going, I have a feeling my descendants will be part European! :D :D

Nandini Vishwanath said...

Stud muffin ;)

Like it a lot :)

Idling in Top Gear said...

There are Iyers native to present-day Andhra and Karnataka (& everyone knows about the infamous Palakkad Iyers of Kerala) so it isn't necessary that there were inter-caste love marriages in your family.

"Somehow my grandmother and mother seem to harbor the notion that I am a stud-muffin of gargantuan proportions and that some harlot will seduce me into marrying her and swapping bodily fluids with her"

Liberal said...

Oh my there is a chance of some adulteration in your family..who knows maybe mine too! Scary thought!

chocoliciousgal said...

iyer equivalent of the finger....ROTFLMAO :D :D

narendra shenoy said...

Enjoyed this!

Anonymous said...

I have been a silent-reader of your blog, but this post was too good!
equivalent of finger was awesome..ROTFL!
Good luck with the assamese girl! :)


buddy said...

@gradwolf: yes

@prashanti: Bhalo. Adn thanks. when do we start those lessons?

@crumpledpapers: youthful???

@karthik: :D bhaiyya!or is it annaya!

@swatimala: she shall be revealed soon. will let u know how the wooing works out.

@vivek: does the european in question know? And im so proud of you my boy! way to go!

@nandini: -shrugs.what can i say..

@idling: i used to tease my palakkad cousins as "arai-korai" . I am one too now :)

@liberal: actually, more the merrier no?

@chocoliciousgal: of course! ti does exist!

@narendra shenoy: Thanks!

@saranya: Thanks! wish she were as appreciative of my efforts :P

vitruvian said...

too good!! i haven't commented for a while..but this was too good to pass up..

"equivalent of the finger"...
and u dancing the lavni will be a sight!!

and there is an Assamese girl i don't KNOW about!!!!!

Karthikk said...

just for the record.. as i have already told you, hilarious... finger equivalent... swapping body fluids... fighting over paddy fields in guntur... man you are hilarious at times... :D keep it up!!!

maami said...

Babu:Chala manchiga vundhi!

maxdavinci said...

bhalo khoob bhalo,

kya baat hain sirjee, orey the form aajkal.

so this is what comes out when you make your so-called world famous rasam! Not sure how it tastes though, bu the posts it generates are fab!

Padmaja said...

Parents and grandparents always unite to derails the next gen's luff!!! I've been there too!!
Enjoyed this post!!!

buddy said...

@vitruvian: heh :D

@karthikk: thanks amigo

@maami: dhanyavadamulu

@max: nandri

@padmaja: so kindly dispense with advise to us younger folks :) ..and thanks!

Anonymous said...

actually, i am quite clueless about my origins altho i've been searching for 5 years already. my parents know nothing about my caste and theres no info on net. only source left is a caste maintained temple in old chennai. unfortunately, no one visits temples in my family and even this is somewhat ruled out.

iyer equivalent of finger aa? good stuff man this!

Sneha said...

-slurps rasam-

kusublakki said...

Loved every alphabet of this post :)

Coconut Chutney said...

Lol, read it on reader the day it came out but forgot to leave a comment.
Very well written :D, and Jai Hind! :D Lol

Srividya said...

Seriously, does your family know that you maintain a blog on which you declare your love for everything north-eastern and rant about your tamil lineage in marathi and telugu? :D

Good luck when they find out :D

buddy said...

@chokkathangam: no caste! thats awesome. u r truly indian then!

@kusublakki: ty

@coconut chutney: lol..ty

@srividya: no they dont :P

Carnatic instrumental music said...

Intereting post :)

AMIT said...

I really enjoyed reading this post.

Meridian real estate