Monday, October 10, 2005

By the by, am a tambram

Tambram chronicles, how utterly jejune. Well, to be frank, am motivated to write on the section of the society purely out of ‘eye rolling’ variety of people i come across in the U.S once in awhile, who want to brandish the tambram tag, for reasons entirely unknown to logic.

I mean, i expect a reader to be as interested in this as Paris Hilton chronicles, “what did my petdog wear today” kinda stuff. But! even that category has readers dont it. And in anycase, i think its profoundly useful to know about the Tambram idealogy. Its the very foundation of all things ritualistic. Shakespeare once said “all the world’s a stage” [and boy, did THAT one get overused]. Mom preferred to come up with her own inspiring words, “All ideas are recipes” she would proclaim, a stern eye focused on me for obvious reasons. But then, it wasnt always a hint to my cooking skills. To her, everything was a recipe, really. “A bit of newspaper and a dash of coffee and my morning is made” she would declare, at 6 A.M. “A pinch of motivation and a bowl of hardwork” she would insist, when exams were a day away [well motivation had a pretty weak flavor, but whoz be to doubt her recipes?]. Grandpa, when he visited would beam proudly and point to fact that mom was a B.A in English. well, no surprise there methinks. Of her generation, 93.56% were B.A English. The rest chose B.A.math or some such to direct them to the favorite tambram passion of those times, government banks.

Well anyway, coming back to the recipe for tambram ideology, we have to dissect the ingredients.

Today, we talk of the classic uncle.

In a true tambram household [the kinds i know atleast], each person is connected to other in precisely two ways. If not more. Unless they were direct siblings or parents that is. The classic uncle is the one always to point it out. He would walk in, unannounced, take of chappals and place it neatly by the front door [while making it a point to comment on any other eye-catching variety of shoe placed beside it]. He would invariably be the one to say “DID YOU KNOW that i am your uncle as well as your grandfather?” well, he usually isnt lying. At some point my family would’ve realized they needed to look at neighbors and far-off relatives to marry their children off and thus ended a never-ending loop of uncles and aunts who, if the situation demanded, could do a double duty of grandpa or grandma. Uncle is usually pretty harmless though. He could wax eloquent about how rasam should be, but would’ve never prepared it in his life. He would’ve cooked exactly once in his life, typically when wife was getting a delivery or hysterectomy done, but would go on and on about it all his life. He would also be the one to take pride in all things ritualistic and all things that radiates false silly pride. By definition, he would have to disagree with all things new-generationish. Food, clothing, and god-save-the-songs they listen to. Excessive use of english would spark discussions of how the english language benefited from us all [well not tamil you see..but in this case he would suddenly get patriotic for language. In true “dad of the my fat greek wedding” movie, he would claim english benefited immmensely from india].

And everytime you accidentally thought english had a wider variety of words to suit your palette, he would start his classic question “did you know you cant say so-and-so sentence in english? why, they dont have words for that type of thing”. Unlike his wife, who couldnt explain why she insisted on certain crazy traditions, he would have a pompous scientific sounding reason for each one. These explanations are delivered using a loud voice, stern eye and a “do you dare to challenge what i believe to be the truth” tone. Like the time i asked why i should wear a bindi and a jasmine garden in my head when all i was doing is wtching TV. Hell hath no fury like an uncle asked. “A BINDI” he would exclaim loudly “is god’s way of protecting women. When rowdy-types see a woman with a bindi, it reminds them of shiva’s third eye. Which is WHY you must wear a bindi all the time”. Aunt would beam at uncle, she wouldnt have had any other answer but a “coz you must”. Uncle would triumphantly shoot a look at mom, one that translates to “this is how you deal with kids these days. see? i taught her didnt i”? statements like “huh” and “what the..?” or “so if i dont keep a bindi a rowdy will catch me” can produce deathlike silence followed by mom’s “you must listen to elders” speech, though we both know shez just making uncle happy.

In the next tambram chronicle, we shall explore the smartypants-shloka reciting-Padma Seshadri bred-made for engineering-cousin.

Tambram forever,


Swimmerina said...

Kewl movie review....makes me wanna go give it a dekko!

Ketaki said...

I have lamented about the myths that hound a tambram as well as the phenomenon of the 'Indian Uncle' ... so I can say only one thing...
I sympathise ;)