I’d mentioned that i will write a post on why i like being called a tambrahm when i had written the post Why i Hate being called a Tambrahm. And here it is.
This might not last many volumes as the hate story lasted.. However i still don’t know how long this will go, since i don’t have a list like i didn’t have when i was writing the other blog.. I just write what comes to my mind, when it comes.
It holds the little nuances that most languages hold. A little change in the pronunciation of a syllable and the word changes into something completely different. And the one consonant I love most is ‘zh’ , which probably is exclusive to Tamil, and hence isn’t quite easy to speak. I remember mom teaching me and my sister the alphabets of Tamil and on encountering this letter, we both used to recite the whole set of syllable preceded by this letter. I shall fail to explain what it sounds like in words and hence you need to get to the next true Tamilian and ask him to say ‘Tamizh’, and hoping he knows how to say that last syllable, you will understand what I mean. A lot of people cannot say that syllable and hence my state of skepticism there. There’s even a song which mentions this at 3.03. It goes something like “Tamizh ku zh azhagu”.. which translates to.. The beauty of Tamizh is in the syllable “zh”.
I think we possess a very high degree of capability to find humor in the worst of situations. I don’t mean we don’t whine and complain, I just mean to say we can pull off a good situational joke at any point in time. Humor is sort of part of our lives. We need to have humorous conversations, we love to watch comedy (just as much as tragedy), we love making fun of each other (like i did in the other post or like a few blogs do like tambrahmrage.tumblr.com )
Yes this belongs to both the reasons for hate and the love for the belonging. If not for sarcasm, I wouldn’t be writing much on this blog. If not for sarcasm I wouldn’t have survived places like Delhi. If not for sarcasm, I wouldn’t be able to give back to my owners in the multiple houses that i’ve lived on rent. And again, it has been the butt of my jokes and of my friends as well. But I do not like to overuse it. I prefer to use it more as a weapon against an attack on me and lesser to initiate a tickle. Pure humor is more fascinating to me than sarcastic humor.
This might sound very superficial to many, but there are few ingredients which I have observed are dear to our preparations and the flavor they bring to the spread is simply inexplicable. Mustard seeds, Kadi patta leaves (Curry leaves in English and Karuvepillai in Tamil), Hing (medium/vendium in Tamil) and camphor. I don’t see a regular use of any of these ingredients in preparations from anywhere else in the country and I feel it’s unique to our preparation. This might include the rest of the tamilians and not just tambrahms, but it’s still quite a large part of our cooking and in my view culture.
Reading habits and general knowledge
This might be debatable and people may say this is a quality that’s upbringing specific, which i’d agree to completely, but I have hardly come across a Tambrahm parent who doesn’t stress on their children reading books and discussing worldly issues on the dining table. Most of the houses I have been to, most people I have met have discussions at meals and news, trivia, events, places etc are most invariably one of the things they discuss. And to me personally, these help a great deal in building the knowledge base of kids. I learnt a lot from the discussions over lunches and dinners at the dining table. A lot of my parents’ experiences from college, travels, childhood, works etc were revealed in such discussions.
We’re a bundle of knowledge. The best example of this can be found at our marriages. If you happen to sit by a group of grown up men in a marriage, you’ll find them talking on varied subjects from engineering to politics, to socialism, books, novellas, music, instruments, finance, marketing and what not. We’re jack of all trades and master of at least one of them!
I’m not sure of the rest of the people from Tamil Nadu, and would refrain from commenting on them since i’ve hardly stayed or discussed non-filmy music with them. But Tambrams households have an inherent air of music. The mornings almost always and everywhere start with a play button on the cassette of either MS Subbulakshmi, Nityashree, Bombay Jayashree, Mandolin Srinivas, Bombay Sisters or other such stalwarts of the rich Carnatic music heritage we relate ourselves to. It is almost disrespectful not to know titles of some of the songs they’ve sung and the ragas. (As you can see, i’m one of the disrespected people, since I cannot fish out the exact terms that describe the renditions)
But music and dance are the two most important things as far as art is concerned. And there might hardly be a few tambrahms who’re not quite fond of or do not relate to Carnatic music or dance.
Value for money
We’re a bunch of people who value money a lot.. a LOT!!! There are a countable few Tambrahms you’ll find to be spendthrifts. Money finds it difficult to squeeze out of a Tambrahms hands. It is one of the first and foremost lessons we’re taught as kids when we’re given pocket money. “Spend it wisely!” (With an eye stare or a wag of a finger) And it has nothing to do with our economic status I feel. The rich, middle class and the poor all are the same.
But that lesson also teaches us to manage finance well later in life. You’ll seldom meet a tambrahm with messed up finances, i.e if he agrees to talk about it. Most of them have their retirement planned out, a house in a good locality, children married off well and settled in good places, studied from good schools and things like that. So we’re the kind of people who’ll still think of renting a taxi and prefer to go by train or bus or at the max an autorickshaw because to us Taxi is simply a luxury that ‘we can do without’, so why go for it. We never like luxury without reason. And luxury with reason is no luxury. Hugh Laurie explains it best in his own context in this interview. It’s a long interview but I cannot find the video snippet of where he talks about luxury being a sin in his family.
Honest and God Fearing and Kind
And in this I shall take the liberty to include the rest of the Tamilians as well. I haven’t travelled to much of the other states down south except just a day or two of ‘travelling’. But Tamil Nadu I have observed has a lot of discipline. People will stand in line for hours and would collectively reprimand anyone who breaks the ‘rule of the road’. Unlike in northern India, where you’d be the only one fighting and the rest will be busy spectating.
The most important thing Chennai taught me was Patience and Tolerance. I HAD to stand in a line with the rest in the heat to buy a ticket. I HAD to stand in the bus with the rest through an hour long grueling bus journey. I HAD to walk the distance without complaining, simply because EVERYONE was doing it. There were no shortcuts to anything. And no one complained. They all took it in their stride. And no matter what the situation very very few people breached the code of conduct or break the rule.
And things run on time. Chennai was the first place I saw a bus stand having an LED display showing the arrival and departure of city buses. It is for the customer’s benefit. There’s thought behind it. There’s more honesty here than anywhere in north india. More sincerity, more dedication, magnanimity, generosity. There have been so many times that a guy has stood in a packed bus and offered me a seat just because he’s noticed me standing for a long time traveling. He needn’t do it, since i’m no one to him and He’s anyway getting off the bus, hardly a concern who takes his seat.
I once was traveling to Yelagiri from Chennai, a 5 hour travel by bus. And the bus conductor offered me his seat. And this was a bus where I was the only passenger standing. No crowd nothing. And I didn’t even expect him to offer, but he did and I noticed that he never sat through the journey. It was a gesture I will not forget easily. I can bet that out of 10,000 conductors in north India, ONE of them will be willing to let his seat be taken. That too ONLY if you’re a lady or an old person.