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The Tam Bram Legacy -1

Nin nu ko ri….

That is first varnam which every girl (even some unsuspecting boys) of every Tam Bram household will have to learn if you are from the City of Chennai and God forbid from the “heavenly abode” of Mylapore. If you have not learned Carnatic Music and can’t “sing” (when I say sing in this post, it refers to Carnatic music only and Film music and likes of it are not to be included) when asked by Formidable “mami’s”, you will be doomed for eternity and will be declared an outcast in all the “mami” circles which I must say cuts across all boundaries and manages to find an alcove in every household irrespective of economic strata and various sub-castes like vadma, vathima and so on.

“Oru paatu paadein.” Three harmless words they look like, but beware for they are not! Every clueless innocent girl has fallen victim to these words at some or the other point of time in her life. All those mamis (Friends of grandmothers and sometimes even mothers) who encroach on your territory (read home) every other afternoon are actually spying on innocent young girls who are wasting away the summer holidays in gleeful abandon. You see this is like a preliminary test to see if the girl in question is being aptly groomed in her culture and to see if she is getting ready for the Tam Bram society. ( Read the marriage mart). Surely you must have heard, every traditional girl seeing ( ponnu pakarkal) starts with "oru paatu paadein". As a dress rehearsal for this all encompassing important event, every year at random occasions and particularly during navaratri, all mamai's will unleash these three words. The point is a Tam Bram girl’s singing talents are to be always kept groomed and well polished as they might be called for at any place or time by three powerful words ( I shrink and quiver in fear even as I write this) “Oru Paatu paadein”

Its not like I have not learnt Carnatic music (read adequately groomed) and can’t break into “a varnam/kirtanai” if I choose to (Ofcousrse my poor singing will then be attributed to the lack of practice with sheepy smiles…sheesh) but somewhere in the last few years I have realized that I don’t like being judged and measured at every other instance.Hence I have now fallen into the lowly bracket of those Tam Bram girls who have left their respect for culture and sorts because of the “IT culture”. At least this is what every orthodox mami who has not evolved with her grandchildren thinks so. (I say a thankful prayer heavenwards- my own grandparents don’t fall into this category).I wish I had learned music for the love of it not because of some evil mami (all music teachers are mami’s- just that they are patu mamis) was waiting for me at sharp 4 every evening with a “vishari kattai” and “Shruti Box” after school hours, eating away into all my play time. I used to think that was grossly unfair then.

Today I wish I had not been judged at every other second. I lay the blame of my not “singing” these days on this and this alone. The fear of being cast aside, for not measuring up has landed me here. I write this today as one of my friends a “mallu” went into a fit of laughter and asked me whether I would have to “sing” during any “ponnu pakare” sessions! I have tried explaining the “funda” of changing times and about the very absence of “ponnu pakare” sessions, but all in vain…he just could not stop his bout of laughter at my expense! Somehow my being a Tam Bram is synonyms to singing for all those mami’s. Not just this I have also come across various prospective bridegrooms state in their lengthy list of requirements “Should be well versed in Carnatic music”. To all those and others, pray tell me when was the last time you did “Sandhya vandanam” or even wake up to “Supharbatam”?

Signing of for now
An accused Iyer
Me


*Note*
Definition of Accused Iyer’s/Iyangar’s- Courtesy an Orkut group
We are the most accused folks!! We start off as geeky kids, grow up listening to Vishnu Sahasranaaman and end up worshipping death metal (well, some of us still dig Carnatic music as well) and breaking all hell loose!! But we strike the balance somewhere.
Genetically capable of being achievers, yet blessed with that subtle mischief; we end up playing devil's advocate many times! However, we still are in love with “shadam n maavadu/oorugai” and say that little prayer everyday and strive to preserve that “chamathu” streak in us, all the way!!

14 comments:

Expressions said...

Good one...The thing abt Tam bram girls being able to sing like MS is such a taken-for-granted notion...It is a crime to be born a Tam Bram Girl and not learn music....And I stand accused:)

Neeti said...

brilliant. u know how much i agree with u on this one.

Caffeinism said...

@ Expressions and Dusty- I knew you would.;-D

fullmoononearth said...

Is it really a must that you know to sing?? What with a bad voice like mine? They'd never ask anyone else to sing again :)

thegaad said...

good one lolz...but u agree with the "changing times" part?? just read my blog on the tamil culture and inter-caste marriages when u find time...cheers...

Caffeinism said...

@ Fme-LoL...well some of the "mamis" think bad voices are due to lack of "singing".Its like a value system out here.

@The gaad-I jut did.A good thought.What I think you are getting at is "identity crisis"

Little Miss Sunshine said...

yes! the golu times were the worsht! Inspite of all the goodies the mamis gave, I used to dread that awkward moment of silence when the million dollar question would be asked! I made sure my mouth was always stuffed with sundal during the visit. The dancers always got away with such kind of questions though! :)

Caffeinism said...

@ sunanda- You hit the mark!Atta gal! How could I leave out golu episodes...chee...I should have thought more.

Goutham said...

Well I thought 'oru pattu paadein' was like the cue for a song in philims.. Din think it happened in real life.. Does it? Pity u girls..

Debaditya said...

Hey ..do u really need to sing??
I could hardly believe that...
and I am not able to laugh at this even...it's quite a serious concern..
Waiting for the part-ll

Caffeinism said...

@ g'man-It does...have you seen the dramas during golu?

@ deba - Areey Deba its actually quite a funny thing.Nothing serious.:-D

Raaga said...

I agree... in fact I'm now all enthu to write about my own experiences... the most recent one being at a friend's wedding where someone said, "Nee paadein... " and the nadaswaram stopped... and I was actually expected to sing in front of the entire crowd.

thegaad said...

arite...i just now figured out who u r...r u like trying not to disclose ur identity here?? lolz...any way, great blogs...keep going...

Caffeinism said...

@ Raaga- Please do write na...:-D

@ gaad- Hello Its on my profile!!and its no secret from you :-D

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