Friday, June 5, 2009

Venkichan Odu 'Twotoerial': The making of a Palagattan career!!

Author's Note: This is in continuation of Shri.N.Kameswaran's screenplay on Venkichan, a kind of Palagattan 'Mr.Bean' or 'Tintin' or 'Tenali'--not so much in terms of characterization but in terms of how central 'Venkichan' is to the screenplay series and his eventual popularity as a Palagattan folk hero! The previous ACT (I) had dwelt on his sick mother and her passing away. This one explores his career...and as it unfolds, you see the brillance, the mischief and the myriad hues of the language and the emergence of the Palagattan Way of Life....Enjoy!

PS : AVIS, the blog's author, continues to edit and tweak the screenplay, just marginally, to enable readers to comprehend every slightest nuance of the langauge.



(About 6 months have elapsed after Venkichan’s mother’s demise. He has now been conducting coaching classes (a 'Twotoerial' in Palagattan) for Class-12 Board Exam students and Degree Class students. Here the scene is a class in Physics, which is coming to a close, day’s proceedings too nearing an end; V is soliciting questions from students to clear doubts.

He encourages questions in Tamil (?) to be very informal and friendly


V: Friends, I hope you have understood what I have talked about. Enna, Kesava, sraddhikkarayaa? (What Kesava, are you paying attention?) Ingayum angayum paathoondu irukkaaye? (You are looking here and there).

K: Enakku oru samsayam (=doubt) …Archimides-ukku nagnamaa (=naked) irundhatthinaaley gnanodayam (=enlightenment) aacchaa (Did Archimedes get enlightened because he was nude) …., gnanodayam vandhatthinaaley nagnam aanaanaa? (...or did he become nude because of his enlightenment?) Illey, Rekhavey orma vandhu “ You..Rekha…..(Eureka?)” innu nagnamaa odi-naanaa?(taking a mischievous glance at Miss Rekha of his class. This fellow has an eye on her, and just to be in her proximity, he is attending the class.) (Or did he strip because he had an eye on (You-Eu!!!) Rekha!!!

V: Dey, indhamaadhiri kundharattaadhi chodhyam(=awkward question) ellaam keyttoondu nee samayathey chelavaakkaadhey (Don’t waste your time with such awkward questions). Nee anju kollamaa (=years) orey pareekshakku (=exam) padicchoondu irukkaay. Indha praavasyam-aavathu(=at least this time) jayikka vazhi (way to pass) paaru. Naangal maashammaar-ellam vrudhaa kandta-kshobham cheythundu irukkom(we teachers are taking only vain strain on the vocal cord). Vaerey yethaavathu - subject-ey patrina - chodyam keyttu-irukkanam(=you should have asked a question relevant to the subject)

K: Vaerey oru chodyam maathram keykkanam (I have another question) …Every action has a reaction innu chonnayeley…Naaan oru ponn-kutty-ye praemikkarein, aval adhey madakkarathillaye (=I am loving a girl, but she does not respond); (“madakkal” means return; It is used in other senses also; e.g., “ Nee Mumbai-ley-irundhu eppo madangi varuvaay?” i.e, “When will you return from Mumbai?” NB: In Tamizh the term implies “outsmarting”)

(V simply stares at him angrily and is visibly irritated and K is putting

on the airs of a hero. Meanwhile, Raju, another student, came to V’s rescue

and snubbed K)

R: Dey reaction irundhuthey-daa; aval onnodu chekatatthuley (=cheek) rendu peda pedacchaaley-daa (=thrashing) (There was reaction; did she not give two thrashings on your cheek?). Then, looking at V, he continued: Saar, neenga yenna ivanukku valam kudukkara-yel…ippadhi peysaadhakku irukkayel? (Sir, why do you encourage him to talk like this; you are keeping quiet? (Valam literally means fertiliser, but in this context it means encouragrment)

V being in no mood to continue, asked the students to disperse, except Ponnu (Ponnammal), whom he asked to wait. After all other students have departed, he looks around when he observes Pichumani standing outside, looking into the class-room.

V: Dey Pichu, nee eppodaa Vandhaay? (When did you come, Pichu?)

P: Appaley vandhaachu…ongattey andha thonnivaasi (=mischevious or scoundrel-like) kutty yennallaamo adhiga prasangi-tthanamaa (=impertinent or oversmart) chodyam keyttoondu irundhaane, appo. Nee nanna pakarathukku pakaram kudukkarathukku enna? (I had come when that scoundrel was asking you so many impertinent questions; why didn’t you give him back in the same coin?) Sumbhan…..,onnai kaliyaakka parukkaraan (kali means play; but kaliyaakkal means to tease, pull the leg, to mock at, etc.) ivanmaarey yellam vekkanda edathiley vekkanam. (You need to put such people in their place)

(Note: The term “Sumbhan” is generally used to refer to a despicable character; the root of this could be from the Asura of the same name, who, along with his bother, Nisumbha, fought with Goddess Parvathi and got annihilated along with his clan. There are other such mildy abusive but hugely amusing words, often used in Palagattan conversations, e.g., kazhupeyri, pattu ezhuvan, alavalaadhigal –equivalents of theethaaraandigal—already discussed in an earlier post).

V: Neykku venamnaa avaney class-ley irundhu “pokangja kolli porathu” innu porathu-aakkiyirukkalaam (in the usage: “pokangja kolli”, the reference is to a damp piece of firewood, which is immediately discarded to avoid smoke emanating), pakshe (=but) idhu oru coaching class allavaa; saadhaarana college allavey. Avanodu appan panam kudukkaraan; adhu porum yenakku. Pinney naan indha twotoerial (=tutorial) thodangi anj-aaru maasam thaney aachu. Innamey thaan pick-up aakanam. Aduttha kollam naaan avanai aduppikka maattein(=this is only a private coaching class, a turtorial, not a regular college; further, I have started this only 5-6 months back; business is yet to pick up; that kid’s father is paying money, so I suffer him. Next year on, I won’t entertain him). (Note: “aduppikkal” means allow to come near, in the context, ‘entertain’)

P: Aamaam, andha kutti-yodu appan aaru? (Ok, so, who’s his father?)

V: Avar thaandaa namma Pammechu Vakil (lawyer, Parameswara Iyer)…..ivalodu maamanaar (pointing to Ponnammal, who was silently listening to their conversation.)

P: Nee yenna, Ponnu, ingey vandhirukkay?

Ponnu: Naanum ingey padikkarein; graduation course pakuthi-ley vitteiney (I had left my graduation program half-way)…..adhai continue pannalaam innu irukkein.

P: Onnodu aambadayaan idukku sammadhippana?

Ponnu: …?!?!..(keeps mum looking down)

P: Naan vallathum keykka pdaadathu keyttutteyno? (Did I ask something that I should not have asked)

Ponnu: Appidiyonnum illai; neenga yenakku anna maadhiri……(hesitating to say further) (Nothing wrong with that; you are like my elder brother)

V: Naan chollareindaa; idhiley olichu maravu (=hide and seek) onnum illey. Iva pukkathiley upadravam sahikka saadhikkathakku Maash-aathukku madangi vandoottaa (she couldn’t handle the harassement at her in-laws’ and so she came back/returned to our teacher’s home); idhu ellaarukkum therinja varthamaanam (=news) aakkumey, nokku (=you) theriyaathaa? Ippo iva case vivaaha- raddu-varey vandirukku, paatthukko…..(This is an open secret. They are on the verge of a divorce.)

P: Yen kaathiley yetho vizhundhuthu; pakshey adhu ithrattholam (=so much) aachu innu yenakku theriyaathu. Aaru Vakil? (I heard something about this, but I did not know it had gone this far. Who’s the lawyer?)

V: Naan neythakku Govindan Nair Vakil-ey paathoottu vandein. Iva appaavaaley onnum aakaathu…avar ippo-yellam veleelaye varathillai. Avarukku adikku meley adi. (Govindan Nair is the lawyer. I met him. Her dad can’t do anything. He has been hit by too many misfortunes__blow after blow.) Pona kollam (=year) thaan iva ammai chatthu-ponaal.(Last year her mother passed away) Adhukku-apram thambikku bike accident aayi avan invalid-aa aathilayey irukkan (Then her brother had a bike accident and he is an invalid at home now.) Rendu masam minnaley oru kundan-edavazhi-ya pokaratthey avarai oru kootran moori mutti veezhtthithu (“Kundan -edavazhi” is a narrow path lying at a level lower than the lands on either side, which acts as a storm water drain during monsoon; “ kootran moori” means a big and strong bull); ippo pathu-pandhrandu dhivasam minnaaley avarai oru pey-patti kaditchuthu (=ten or twelve days back he was bitten by a rabies-affected dog.)

(Note: patti, literally means a bitch, and a dog is “naaya” in Malayaalam, but generally in this context, patti is always used, whether the biter, belonging to the canine species, is dog or bitch); adhinaaley thaan nan iva case-ai valichu-pouttundu Vakil-ai paathein. (That is why I took upon their problems and went to meet the lawyer)

P: Nalla kaaryam panninay-daa. Innaaalum maashukku idhu kaduppam aatchu (You have done the right thing, but this is too hard on him, the teacher) Iva kadhai-yum onnodu maadhiri-ye irukkey... onga appa poyi oru kollatthuk-kulley ongammai-yum ponal. Onnodu veylayum pochu. Sister vaerey kalyaanatthukku nikkaraa. Idhellaam keykkarathey enakku engappa chumma chumma repeat pannara “markatasy suraapaanam” inna slokam orma varathu (Her story’s like yours. Your mother died within months of your father, you lost your job and your sister is waiting to be married. Hearing all this, I am reminded of a slokam my father used to repeat...)

V: Athu yennathu? (What’s that?)

P: Athuvaa? Chollrein: (let me explain)

Markatasya suraapaanam

Thanmadhye vruschika damsanam

Thanmadhye bhootha sanchaaram

Kim vaa, kim vaa na kuryaath

Appidi-innaa, oru korangan (=monkey) kalllu kuditchuthaam (=got drunk/inebriated), apram adhai oru theil kaditchuthaam (=then the monkey got bitted by a scorpion), athey samayam adhai oru peyi piditchuthaam (at that precise moment, the money was possessed by an evil spirit); pinney adhodu vipraalatthukku(=panic violently) vaerey enna vaenum (what more does the monkey need to panic for?) ? Allaathakkey Maashukku thottatthukkellam peydi (=fear) (In any case, our teacher is afraid of most things)

Ponnu: Neengal sariyaa chonnayel; yenga ammai irukkaratthey avarai peydichu-thoori-innu (one who is struck with fear, shits; in this context one who is shit-scared; peydichu-thoori) cholluvaa; sakala aathu-nirvaahavum ( house-hold administration) ammai thaan paathoondu irundhaa. (It was my mother that ran the home.)

P: Onga ammayum maashaa irundhaa illaya? (Wasn’t your mother a teacher too?)

Ponnu: (Laughing) Illai, Mistress! Samskrutham Mistress-aa irundhaa; aval ippo irundhaa ongalodu samskrutham quote-ai prasamsichiruppaa (=praise) (No, she was a Sanskrit teacher. Had she been around, she would have praised you for the Sanskrit quote)

P: Pinney, Venkichaa, nee yennadaa on thangai-ye pattham classukku meyley padippikkaley? (So, Venkichaa, did you not educate your sister after Class X)

V: Eppideeda…aatha paathukka oral veynamey..pinney, konjam pana-kashtavum irundhuthu. Yidhaa, ippotthan, kaalai neettarein (=to stretch legs; a sign of relief); indha tutorials thodanginatthukku apram, konjam aaswaasam(=relief) irukku. Kaalakrameyna yellam sariyakum (in course of time everything will be OK) (I needed someone to run the home. Besides, we were short on cash. With this tutorial, life is a bit relieved. Everything will be fine in due course of time.)

P: Aamaam,Vakil, Govindan Nair rombha periya aal aachey…nee avarai eppidi piditchaay; avarodu khyaadhi (=name/fame/reputation) Kerala muzhuvathum parandh-irukkey! (How did you pin down Govindan Nair. He is such a big lawyer. His fame has spread all over Kerala). Avar rombha busy allavo; eppadi idhukku sammadham vaanga saadhitchuthu? (He is so busy. How did you get him to accept this case?)

V: Avar enga-appavodu junior-aa irundaarey! Adhinaaley thaan avaroadu ithra periya yedatthey yenakku adhikam vaadagai illaadhakku tutorial nadattha thandhirukkaar. (He was my father’s junior. That is why he has even given his premises with such low rental to me to run my tutorial.)

P: Adhuthan naanum paathein…., indha Sulthan Pettai-ley, Palakkat-odu nadu-maddhythuley, indha yedam onakku yeppidi kedatchuthu-innu. Ongulukku yethaavathu sahaayam veynamaanaa engattey lajjikkathakku chollu (=tell me without being ashamed), keyttayaa Ponnu. (That’s what I reckoned. How you managed a place in the prime, heart of Palakkad, Sultanpet. Now, I see. If you need any help, ask me Ponnu.)

V: Naanum onkettey keykkanam-innu vijaarichen; neeyum naalaikku free-yaa irundhaa Vakil aathukku neirey vandoodu; oru pandharendu manikkellam (by 12 O’ clock) varanam; yenakku veygam madanganam – naalaikku naan rombha busy, ishtaa (the term”ishtaa” is used to address an intimate friend whose help is sought for something); valla formalities-um kazhikkanamaanaa nee iruppaye. Hey, naan oru mandan(=fool) onney niruthi vetchu peyseendu irukkeyney..ukkaarudaa. Chaaya vaangeendu vara-chollarein . Vaasu, .(calling his assistant), nair-odu chaaya-peedikku poyi moonnu aappum kadiyum vaangeendu vaa (Go to nair’s tea-shop and fetch 3 half-cups of tea and some snacks.

(Note: In many of the small tea shops, especially those frequented by the middle class, the facility of half-cup, “aappu”, is available).

(Vasu gets ready to leave on his errand)

Ponnu: yenakku vendaam keyttayelaa. Ippovey vaigiyaachu. Appa kaathukkindu iruppa; yennai kaanaathakku ippovey parakkam paanjoondu iruppaa( “parakkam

paayal” means vigorous movement, to and fro, when in distress – as in the case of a trapped rat – nearest phrase in pucca tamil being “ poonai kutty pottappoley”) naan poyittu venam atthaazham veppu (food for night has to be cooked by me).

Pichu: Yein, kaarthaalatthathu onnum fridge-iley illayo? (Isn’t there anything in the fridge from the morning’s cooking?)

Ponnu: Koottanum vazhuthinanga upperiyum(=A dal-based gravy+curry made of brinjal) irukku; chaatham maathram vadikkanam.(=I just have to cook rice) Sari,… naan inna eragarein; naalakku pandharendu manikku minnaley Vakkilaathukku varein (Ok. Let me go. I will reach the lawyer’s at 12 noon tomorrow...)

V: Appidiyaa…?Vaasu, aappum kadiyum rendu set madhiyaakum (=will be enough); neeyum angaye yethaavathu vangi thinnuko. (Vasu, then make it two half-teas and snacks. And you grab something there for yourself)

(Both Vasu and Ponnu leave)

P: Dey indha Vasu aarudaa? Onnodu peon-aa? (Who’s Vasu? Is he your peon?)

V: Illey-daa; Avanum ingey oru student thaan. Naan avan kittey fees onnum vaangarathillai. Adhukku nanndni kaattaraan(Note: In Malayalam, words like nanndni,i.e.,gratitude; pandni, i.e., pig; channdnanam, i.e., sandal paste, etc., are to be pronounced without involving the tip of the tongue; the middle of the tongue comes into play ). Pinney ivan engaatthu Malayaalatchi-yodu pullai-aakkum (Note: Somehow, unfortunately, the term “malayaalatchi”, to mean a maid servant, has gained currency in Palagattan lingo and society. This could be the legacy of a feudalistic society, which existed when the king patronised Brahmins in preference to those of other communities, but with the decadence of that society, following land reforms and universal education, higher literacy and rising egos in Kerala, this practice is disappearing, because, on one hand, maids have become scarce in Kerala, and on the other, they resent being addressed that way. Besides, the true meaning of ‘Malayalaatchi’ means a Malayali woman__and nothing can be construed derogatory about that).

(Meawhile, Vasu comes with tea and snacks)

V: Kadi (=snack)yenna kittitthu (=to get)?

Vasu: sukhiyan-um paruppu vada-yum.(sukhiyan is a popular item in most of the tea-shops. It is something like “poornam kozhukkattai”, i.e.,”modhakam”, but instead of steam-cooking, it is deep-fried). (paruppu vadai means lentil-based fried snack like doughnut without the hole)

P: Onnodu utchey-ttha aahaaram engey-daa kazhikkaraay?(Where do you take your lunch)

V: Vasu engaathiley-irundhu dubba yeduthoondu varaan… avanum angayey chappiduvaan. (Vasu gets me my lunch packed from my home in a box and he eats at my place.)

(After tea and closing the tutorial office/room, all of them disperse)


Sunday, May 31, 2009

'Chaatyam', 'Chadhi', 'Chattambi' and 'Chol Ezhighai'!

These four Palagattan terms deal with obedience, decorum and trust.

'Chaatyam' is Palagattan for 'impertinent obstinacy'. It often applies to children who are adamant and unrelenting about their demands. It doesn't happen these days so much, but in my days as an under-ten, I have often noticed kids sprawled on the floor in stores and kicking their feet in despair demanding an object of their desire, usually a toy or a brand of chocolate. If such kids were Palagattan, their parent(s), usually it is the man's prerogative to tame the child in public, would say firmly: "Itha paaru. Chaatyam kootathe ketiya?" "Look here. Behave yourself. [Don't be impertinently obstinate (sic!)]"

'Chadhi' is Palagattan for 'to betray'. In the truest sense, in the original Malayalam, 'chadhi' is used in a political or business context when people betray each other through deceit, conspiracy or manipulation for monetary gains or to gain power. But Palagattans use the word even when dealing with kids such as the one above. The usage is to communicate the acute sense of pain and grief that has been afflicted on the parent. For example, knowing his child to be a 'chatyakaaran' or 'chattambi' (meaning one who is impertinent, obstinate and adamant), a Palagattan father may condition the child before taking him out. Despite all that preparation, kids being kids, Palagattan or otherwise, may sprawl in public to leverage the moment and have their demands met. So, when they come back home, a grieved Palagattan father may confess to his wife: "Kettayo ni? Chadhichuttan. Ellam nee kudukara chellam akkum." "Heard this? He betrayed us. It's all because you dote over him (implied-therefore spoiling him)."

'Chol Ezhigai' is Palagattan to denote absolute futility in getting someone to obey. An exasperated Palagattan grandma may declare: "Avalkitta chol ezhigathu." "There's no point in expecting her to obey." 'Chol' means an order or instruction. 'Ezhigai' means 'does not obey'.

The current family drama perpetrated by Thiru MuKa and his Clan on the nation__and on poor Dr.Manmohan Singh__is a perfect context to help this blog's readers to understand these four Palagattan terms. Assume for a moment that MuKa and his brood were Palagattans. This is how the entire story would have been presented by MuKa (writing) in his party organ 'Muracholli' [Unauthorized translations in English]:

"Enakku Prayam Achu Kettaela?"
[Listen folks, I am getting old now (sic!)]
"Degha-Obadhravum Sahikkalai. Nattellum Odingirrukku''.
[I am unable to bear the miseries my body's going through. My spinal cord too's broken.]
"Poraatha avasthaikku intha Azhagiri chaatyam pidikkaran".
[As if all this pain weren't enough, I have to deal with this impertinently obstinate (sic!) Azhagiri]
"Ana, prayam anaalum, enodu budhi mandhalai kettaela? Naan avanai Delhikku mathittuaen."
[But, despite my age, my brain's still working overtime and is sharp. I have shifted Azhagiri to Delhi]
"Ini avan Stalinai chadhika maataan, pathaeyla."
[Now, you see, he can't stab Stalin in the back/betray Stalin]
"Chattambi-galai-ellam kochchu kaalathilaye kandicchiirrukkanam. Onnukku pathula, rendu perai kettitu enna prayojanam?"
[Spoit brats ought to have been disciplined when they were kids. What was the point in me marrying twice and have two (caretakers)?]
"Ippo azhudhoottu enna prayojanam? Chol Ezhighaathu, Azhagirikku".
[What's the point in lamenting now. He will just not listen/obey. It is futile. This Azhagiri.]
"Ennakku Bhagavan paerula nambikkai illai-than. Irundhalum, Stalinum, Kani-kuttyum chamathakkum kettaela?"
[I don't believe in God. But let me state here that Stalin and Kani(mozhi)-baby are good (well behaved) kids]
"Oru ashwasam enna kettaelna, naan porthukkullaye, ithukallay-ellaruyum ava-ava vazhikku okkathi-toaein"
[One redeeming feeling is that, before I went my way, I have got these kids to find their paths and have set them on their ways]
"Anna, Periyar...Kootinddodupaa...(In lieu of Krishna, Rama, given that Muka is an atheist in public!)
[Anna, Periyar...why don't you call me to you...]

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Venkichan's Ammai: A Screenplay to help appreciate the Palagattan lingo

Author's Note: Shri.N.Kameswaran is a resident of Chembur, Mumbai. A retired senior official who has had long stints with RBI and Nabard, he has taken the effort, pro-actively, to educate our blog's readers on the Palagattan language's nuances. He has chosen a creative methodology of a screenplay. Incidentally, he is the author's (AVIS') athai's (father's sister is athai) husband. This blog salutes his enthusiasm, interest and knowledge. Enjoy! Kindly appreciate that this screenplay is reflective of a real-life situation in a Palagattan context in one of the several villages in Palakkad where most Palagattans have their roots.

PS 1: The author (AVIS) has added additional emphasis and clarifications to the script as may be necessary.

PS 2: All characters in this screenplay are imaginary and any resemblance to any Palagattan living, dead or to be born, is purely uddheshichuttu alla__without intention.



[Pichumani is sitting on the verandah, i.e., thinnai, of his house in Kalpathy village, when Venkichan (Venkateswaran), passes that way.]

Pichumani (P): Enda, Venkicha, yen pesaadakku poray, enkitta deshyama?(Why are you going without speaking to me? Angry with me?)

Venkichan (V): Illayda, nan konjam dhruthi-le irukken, athra thaan (Not at all, Am in hurry-dhruthi in Palagattan- that’s all).

P: Ennachu? (What happened?)

V: Enga ammai-ku rendu naalaa theera sugham illai (totally ill); pona budhan kizhamai oru dhahana-kkoravu-innu chonnaa (she complained of indigestion-dhahana-kkoravu in Palagattan-last Wednesday); innaikku idhaa …adhu vayar- elakkathila (bhedi-le in Tamizh, and means diahhorea) avasanichirukku (=ended). Naan edakku-edakku (=often/occasionally) ava kittey solleenduu iruppen, “sooshichu iru, vellam thelappichu kudi-innu(=take care, drink boiled water)” Ava chonnaa kettaa thaaney? (Does she ever listen?) Ippo idhaa doctor kittey odeendu irukkeyn. Kazhiyaratholam (=as far as possible) doctor kittai pondaannu vijarichen (= thought-vijarichen in Palagattan-I need not go to the doctor). Ippo koodatha kazhiyaathu-innu (=considering it inevitable) porappettein (=started, to go to the doctor...)

P: Nalla kaaryam cheydhay (= did a wise thing); Dr Vaarier-odu gulikai rendu naalakku kazhiccha ellaam sariyaakum.(=Dr.Vaarier's tablets-gulikai in Palagattan-for two days should take care of things/her) O..O..Oh, aduthaan nee Kittu-maashaathu (= Is that why, well, oh, you didn't come to the wedding in Kittu teacher's family-maash in Palagattan means teacher!) kalyaanathukku varalayaa?

V: Aamaanda; neengal ellam saddhi (=feast) enjoy pannarathey naan aathuley cheeraachaarum chutta pappadamum thinnundu irundeyn (While you guys were lapping up the wedding feast, I had to settle for jeera rasam and roasted pappadam). Saddhi eppadi irunduthu? (How was the feast?)

P: O..Oh, podi paaarithu (= the feast was grand). Kaaalan, Olan, Aviyal, Erusseri, Koottukari, Aratchu-kalakki (This one is a Palagattan speciality which is as exotic when good as it is vengeful when stale__made of nellikkai or gooseberry), Valiya pappdam, Cheriya pappadam, Varuthupperi, Charkara-itta-upperi …yellam irundhuthu

V: Appoh, keman (grand) aachu innu chollu. Thoran irukkalayaa?

P: O..Oh, marandeyne, adhukku pakaram (=instead of) idicchakka-podithuval(=curry of tender jackfruit) irundhuthu.

V: Dey, ennai ormai irukkalayedaa onakku (=you forgot me...while at the feast). Yenakku pakarchai eduthundu varappadaaadhaa?(=could you not have carried the items to me) Aamaam, dahannam aaroadadhu? (=whose cooking was it?)

P: Namma Aalikutti pattar-oadadhu (Our Aalikutty brahmin's...)

V: Aalikutty-ya? (Aalikutty who?)

P: Athuthaandaa andha Aadikkutty (Aadinarayanan)…Maaplamaaroadu (= of Malabar muslims who were called Moplahs) functions-kkum chamakka-povan; athinaale avanai appadi parihasamaa kooppadara. (Because Aadinarayanan cooked at Muslim feasts, he was nicknamed Aalikutty)

(Meanwhile, Appukuttan-another Palagattan-joins them)

Appu (A): Ennah..renduperuma solllindu (= are you both chatting idly?) irukkayel? (Here “lll” has to be pronounced as we do in the case of velllai, i.e, white)

P: Illey, ivan-oadu ammaikku ashesham (totally) thallalayaam (His mother is unable to bear it/push herself/unwell). Vayar elakkamam. Adhai patri chollindu irundaan. Pinney, nee enna maashaathu kalyanathukku varalai? (She has a stomach upset. He's was narrating about it. By the way, you didn't come to the teacher's family wedding? Why?)

A: Enakku kshananam illaidaa (I was not invited); sondhakkaaralayum asalaathilayum thaan kooppattaa innaakkum kaettein (they called only family and neighbors)… pinney (next)…. oru pakshey (even if) kooppattaalum vandhirukka sadhichirukkadhu (=I could not have come even if invited) - enakkum sukhakkedu (even I was unwell) …cheerappu (cold), chomai (cough), panipidicha maadhiri oru thonnal (=feverish feeling). Raaathirikku thanuthu verachuthu (=was shivering with cold in the night). Ippotthan konjam aaaswaaasam (=only now I have some relief) irukku. Innaikku pacha vellathula thaan kulicheyn. (See, I took bath in cold water today) Paaruu..inda chinna, chinna sukhakkedai ellam kondaada pdathu.(See, we should not let such small ailments be celebrated__that, is pin us down!)

P: Dey, sooshich iru. Sakala edathilayum dannam-deenam inna varthamaanam (news) thaan keikkarathu.(Take care mate. I am hearing everyone's down with one form of ailment or another-dannam-deenam in Palagattan!)

V: Dey, Pichu, enakku neiramaachu, naan inna erangarein (=I am getting late so, let me get along, start moving); apram kaanalaam. (Will see you)

(V moves away)

A: Dey Pichu, yivan ennadaa ippidi mushinja mundum keera kuppayavum pottundu nadakkaraan? (Hey Pichu, why is this guy-Venkichan-is wearing such a lousy dhoti-sarong in Malay, veshti in Tamizh-and a shabby shirt?) Minney ellam pattraassu-le (= he used to be so flamboyant, and in style) irundhaaney? Vadikkaatha thaadiyum (his unshaven look) kashandi mandayum (=bald head) paathaa oru praandhan (=mad cap) maathiri irukkan (he looks loony because of his unkempt looks and his bald pate). Kalyanam aayittillai paaru (he isn't married, you see); indakkalathu ponn kuttigal ellam aalodu bhangi-ya thaan paarukkaraa(bhangi = azhagu; girls these days consider the looks of the boy). Konjam nee eduthu chollu.(Why don't you take it up with him?)

P: Illeyda, avan saadhaaranamaa (=usually) ippidi illai (he isn't always like this). Avanukku ennavo, sakala sthlatthilayum (=in all places) kuruthakkeydu (=bad luck) (he's having a bad time because his chips are down). Pona maasathiley irundhu avanukku velay illai (he's been out of job since last month). Naal-anju kollam (means years in Palagattan) avan service-le irundha company aakkum (he used to work with that company for over 5 years). Indha economic slow-down-iley adhu polijuthu (=crashed in Palagattan; means folded up). Ippo ennavo oru chinna paniyum koodi kittarathillai (=he's not getting even a small job now). Avan kalyanam angey irukkattum (let his wedding plans be); avan thangai oruthi irukkaaley, avalukku 28 vayassu praaayam (age/old) aayaachu – kalyaaanathukku vaigiyaachu(=delayed) (his 28-year-old sister's wedding is delayed too). Ippo panakkashtam vaerey (he's having a cashflow problem/he's broke); eppidiyum churungina thothiley (=in a small scale) panninaalum ippollaam kalyaanathukku naal-anju laksham chelavaakaathaa (how much ever we economise, a wedding today costs four to five lakhs)? Athu poavattum (=let it go), namukku ennathukku inda aavasym illatha khaedam(=worry) (why do we sweat over this unnecessary situation). Athu avan vidhi.(That's his destiny)


(A big crowd in front of Venkichan’s house; Pichumani passes that way)

P: (Asking Appu who was also there) Ennadaa ingey ithra therakku? (why's there such a big crowd here?)

A: Paavum, Venkichan-odu ammai chatthupponaalaam. Idhaa ippo konjam minnaley thaan.(Poor Venkichan's mother passed away, just a short while ago)

P: Avan doctor-ey koopadarathukku vaigitthu (he delayed getting the doctor over). Neythakkey paathirukkanam (he should have got one to see her yesterday) Eppo dahanam?(=when's the cremation)

A: Konjam kazhinjaa ellaam aayidum. (In a while, it will all be over) Vadhyar vandaachu. (The priest has come).

P: Adukku veyre chelavu; indha vaadyammaru thattipparikkaraa (robbing) (That's also an additional expenditure. These priests fleece--these days).

(Both of them enter Venkichan’s house)

P: Onakku ennadaa ippidi pinneyum pinneyum (again and again) kashtam varathu (why is misfortune chasing you like this)? Paavum onga ammai, onga rendu peyrayum kalyanam cheythu paakkanam innu irunthaal (Your poor mother. She would have wanted to see you and your sister married and settled). Ippo pettennu (=suddenly) ippidi ponaaley (she's gone so suddenly). Ellaam vidhi…. (It's all fate/destiny).

A: Nee avanodu kashtatthey-ellaam ippo ormappedutthaadey (=don’t remind)…meyley ulla kaaryamellam nadakkattum. (Don't remind him of his miseries now. Let's get on with the rites...)

(Pichumani and Appu silently walk out; Those assembled outside, waiting to join the funeral procession, have formed small groups of 3-4 persons talking among themselves about anything and everything under the sun, but Pichumani and Appukkutan were genuinely concerned about Venkichan)

P: Yenda, Appu, Venkichan-odu Chitthappa Mumbai-iley periya shithi-iley (=big shot in a big position) irukkaa innu keytteiney..avar ivanai sahayikka (=help) maattaraa? (I heard that Venkichan's uncle is a big shot in Mumbai. Will he not help him?)

A: Avan mahaa pishukkan (=miser) aakkum; Kayyiley panam vechundu chumma panja-paattu paaduvaan. (he's a big miser. He will claim he is broke while sitting on hard cash) Adha viduda; ippo aarukku enna kashtam eppo varum-innu cholla saadhikkaadhu.(Let that go. No one can predict how each of us is likely to be affected by our misfortunes) Idaa neythakku keitttein, Maashaathu Ponnu pukkaathiley-irundhu thirumbi vandaalaam (listen to this, the teacher's daughter-who just got married-came back from her in-laws home); innamey angey pomaattein-innu chollaralaam (she says she won't go back there-and stay with her in-laws!).

P: uuum…yennaachu? Naan rendu aazhchai=(weeks) minnaley thane andha kalyaaanthukku poyi saddhi saappattein..thinnathu innam dhahanam aayittllai… adhukkulley ippidyaa! (What happened? Just two weeks ago, I was at the wedding feast. The food hasn't even digested and now, this news?)

A: Ava maamiyaar-um naathnaar-um rombha updravikkaraalaam(=harassing) (the mother-in-law and sister-in-law are troubling/harassing/torturing her too much). Ongaathiley chonnaappoley pandam (=ornaments) podaley, pazhaya paathram (=vessels)-ellaam polish cheythu thandhirukkaa ongappa chathicchaa (=cheated)…appidi, ippidi innu cholli-kaatteeduuu irukkaalam (The boy's parents complained about not enough ornaments and poor quality (old, repolished) vessels as part of the dowry, accused the girl's father of cheating). Aval thoiram (harassment) sahikkaathakku aathukku madangi vandoottal (=returned home) (She came back unable to handle the harassment)

P: Paavum maashu; avar manassu thalarndu (=idinju inTamil) poyiruppaarey (pause)…(Poor teacher-maash-, he must be a heart-broken man). Innaalum Venkichan-odu thangey-ye patri aalochichaa(=when thought of) (even then, when I think of Venkichan's sister), sankatam varathu (=I feel sorry); nalla ponnu (she's a good girl)..kaanarathukku bhangiyaa (=good looking) irukkaal, yennittum(=still), veli (marriage) aakaathakku ippidi nikkaraa! (she's good looking but still unmarried)

A: Yenna, nokku avakittey premam (=love) varatho? (Are you in love or perhaps, having a crush on her?) Inna nee kettikkoyein (=marry) avalai. (then why don't you marry her?) Onakku ishtam aanaa (=pidicha in Tamil). Naan Venkichan kittayum ongaathileyum cholli kaaryam sariyaakkarein.(If you are okay, I will talk to Venkichan and with your parents and make the match) Theerchaya chollu (=be decisive) apparam pinn-vaangaathey (=don't go back later).

P: Yenakku virodham illai, aanaa enga ammai enna cholluvalo (I have no objection, but wonder what my mother will have to say!)

A; Paathayaa..neeyum appiditthan..baakki ullavrai ennathukku kutram cholanam. (See, even you are like the others. Why blame others?) Onakku avalai pidicchaa aarayum keikkandaam (If you like her, we need to consider no one else). Nattellu (backbone) venam idhukkellam (You must have a spine for such things/decisions).

P: Appidi-inna nee kettikkoyen (Then, why don't you marry her-Venkichan's sister)

A: Yenakku avaaa daayaadee (=cousin)-da; patthu naal peley (=theettu in Tamil) undu (They are my cousins. She's a cousin. I am in mourning for 10 days). Illey-inna naaney kattindu iruppein (Else, I would have married her!)

(Meanwhile, Venkichan's Ammai's body is taken out and the funeral procession proceeds...)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

'Saaram Illai', 'Egadesham', 'Virodham Illai' and 'Madhuram Koottiyal Kambli Thinnalam'

Author's Note: I was away traveling...and working!!! Hence the blog stagnated for a week. But we are back in business. Enjoy!!

'Saaram Illai' is Palagattan for 'It's OK'. This is a very, very Palagattan usage and is drawn from the Malayalam 'Saarow Illa', which also means 'It's OK or acceptable'. A variation of this Palagattan usage is 'Virodham Illai' which actually means 'It is not objectionable' or actually '(I) Have no objection'. The Tamizh usage for 'It's OK' is 'Parava Illai' and the one for 'Virodham Illai' is 'Ethirppu Illai'. In Malayalam, they even say 'Tharakedu Illa' which means 'the quality (tharam) is not bad'. Palagattans also use the phrase 'Tharakedu Illai' rather liberally.

Typical usages will be:

''Nalekki varata?''. ''Shall I come tomorrow?''. And the reply: ''Saraam illai''. ''It's OK''.
''Avaathu Kalayanathukku, vara mudiyathu''. ''I can't come to the wedding in their home (family).'' And the reponse: ''Virodham Illai''. ''It's OK''.
''Karudaam varathurken. Chaptupatheyla?''. ''I made some crackers (In India a.k.a Fryums). Did you taste them?''. And the reply: ''Ooah! Chapteney. Tharakedu illai ketteya?'' ''Yes, of course, I did. The quality ain't too bad''. This last example is a typical daughter-in-law:mother-in-law banter. It has huge contextual relevance.

'Madhuram Koottiyal Kambli Thinnalam' is Palagattan for a 'sugar-coated pill'. While it has a philosophical import, meaning the toughest utterances or events/decisions can be made easy or palatable by dealing tactfully with them. 'Madhuram' means sugar, 'kootiyal' means 'to add', 'kambli' means blanket and 'thinnalam' means to eat. But Palagattans often use this to advise young mothers on how to feed their infants medicines. In fact, there is a special Palagattan device for such occasions called a 'goghurnam' which is a small steel or silver or brass cup with a sharp triangular pout. The mother would add honey to a powdered dose of a medicine, hold the nostrils of the hapless child closed and then force the medicine down the child's throat. By a simple law of survival, the child would swallow the medicine along with a gulp of fresh air. This phrase, 'madhuram koottiyal kambli thinnnalam', is used by the mother-in-law, to force the young mother__who may be trying to avoid feed the child in such a gruesome manner.

Recent advances in medical science have, of course, spared such beleagured mothers (under pressure from their mothers-in-law) and their tortured children. So much so, when mean 'naathanaars' (sisters-in-law) of the young mothers go complaining or passing snide remarks on children not being looked after well when they are sick, the mothers-in-law are often heard saying 'saaram illai' or 'virodham illai'.

A different usage of 'saaram illai' is in a husband-wife, pillow-talk conversation. When there are guests at home and the children have to sleep in the parents room, the husband in a moment of arousal may nudge the wife. "Enna," she may moan. "What?" "Hmmmm, vaa,"he may plead, enticingly. "Come (let us make love)!" "Chi, kuttigal irrukka. Ocche padithunnelna, ezhundoodovaa". "The kids are here. They may wake up if you make noise". He may then, seductively, purr into her ears,"Saaram Illai. Vaa!" "It's OK. Come..." And she would, hopefully, indulge him.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

'Velichapadu', 'Nozhaneri' and 'Echikale'

'Velichapadu' is Palagattan for a phenomenally hyper-active person. In fact, a better way to understand the word's meaning is to go to its origin. In temples in Kerala, during the annual festival, for various reasons__scientific, surreal and manipulative__men and women appear possessed. The common belief is that God expresses and/or appears for brief spells of time through such people. These people are called 'velichapadus'. 'Velicham' means light in Malayalam (and in Tamizh). So, 'velichapadu', literally, means something or someone that moves (as fast as) like light! But in Palagattan, the usage is to describe people who are driven, passionate, display high-energy and are, in a sense, unstoppable. It is often times, in fact always, used in a negative context when decrying someone's behavior. "Avan oru velichapadu akkum. Piddichu vekka mudiyathu." "He's a 'velichapadu (or hyper-active person). It's impossible to pin him down." The times at which its usage is appropriate is when a son, who is to write his Class X exams, is hardly found with his books or at home. Peripatetic Palagattan entrepreneurs or executives who are busy with their careers or young Palagattan brides who are social butterflies, invite this title on to themselves!

'Nozhayarthu' is Palagattan is for entering__a room or house. 'Itha, ippo than nozhanjurkaan' means 'He's just barely made an entry'. The usage is relevant in such contexts to indicate that someone's made an appearance after everyone has made some effort to establish when he or she would come. And 'neri' means fox. So 'nozhaneri' in Palagattan is someone who makes a slimy entry__after, most usually, spoiling the party. Simply, 'nozhaneri' in Palagattan is a 'wily fox'! The implied reference is to a person's wilyness, cunningness and 'too smart' tendency. "Sheriyaana nozhaneri akkum. Avondu shalyam sahikamudiyathu." "He's a wily fox. Can't take his nuisance anymore."

'Echikale' in Palagattan is someone who lusts after food. Such people, spend time licking their fingers and keep polishing their plates of leftovers, while still continuing to lick their fingers. This behavior alone does not earn them the sobriquet of 'echikale'. To be an 'echikale' you must take this tendency seriously and demonstrate it as a guest in someone else's home or function. Of late, however, it is used as a derogatory term to make someone feel like a worm, especially when that someone is dependent on others for support. It is also applicable to those who are hyper-parakavattis (greedy) and will go to any extreme to get some food, even if it is a left over. "Chi, echikale. Unnakku naan illama ethavudhu kadaikumma". "Hey cheapo. Can you ever get anything without me (my largese/support)?!" This is such a bizarre Palagattan word because one can't even fathom people behaving as leftover-mongers in a family context for such a name to befall them. So, an apt usage is in a derogatory context as discussed above.

After the India General Elections, Lalu and SP appear to be 'nozhaneris', while the Left may be aptly called (by the Congress) 'echikales' and, although everyone loves to hate him, M.K.Azhagiri may qualify as an 'unnamglass velichapadu'.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

'Chule', 'Kekkala Thuni' and 'Charavai'

Palagattans have interesting words to describe daily use tools (and vessels and places) in their homes. We will discuss three of the tools today.

'Chule': Broom in Tamizh is called a 'thodapam'. But Palagattans call it a 'chule' (pronounced 'chool'). This word is so exclusively Palagattan that Tam Brams ridicule this usage and like to rib their Palagaattan friends/spouses/relatives all the time. Much like they do with the word 'chattuvam' (discussed in an earlier post).

'Kekkala Thuni': This is a piece of cloth used to lift and move hot cooking pans and utensils that contain the day's food ready-to-serve. Normally, in Palagattan homes, a once used 'thorthamundu' (towel, again discussed in an earlier post) makes its way back as the kitchen's 'kekkala thuni'. Modern day Palagattan homemakers in Chennai, Austin, Phoenix or Singapore may use a kitchen glove for the same purpose. But Palagattan homemakers of those years had to make do with recycling their 'thorthamundus' or 'thorthus'!! Kindly appreciate that the other piece of home garment (read: male undergarment) that used to find its way into Palagattan kitchens was the 'chaanachoranai'. The 'chaanachoranai', please note, is different from a 'kekkala thuni' and never should one be used for the other!!

'Charavai': Palagattan for coconut scraper. No Palagattan ever cooks a meal without using coconut liberally in one of the dishes. Therefore, coconuts are scraped every day in a Palagattan home. Today's mixers and the ubiquitous Elgi grinders have modern coconut scrapers and graters. Even so, every Palagattan home will have this lethal-looking scraper that has a wooden base on which the person scraping rested one knee or thigh and the scraped shavings were collected in a plate and added to the the recipe may require. The act of scraping is called 'charavarthu' in Palagattan while it is called 'thurvarthu' in Tamizh. Often the 'charavai' was part of the vessels/utensils that a Palagattan bride brought from her 'poranda aam' (mother's place/place of birth) to her 'pukk aam' (in-law's place).

Author's Note: Just a bit swamped with lots of other work. Hence this post seems short. Will be back in action soon. To be continued....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

'Thiruvaazhthan', 'Oyosi' and other rare Palagattan-isms!

Every Palagattan home must have a 'Thiruvaazthan'. Usually a 'dumbo' who always does the opposite of what is told. A la the legendary Kalidasan. Most often, unintentionally. "Seriyaana thiruvaazthan kettela. Ullpavaadaikku naada podu nu chonnen. Avan ella ullpavaadailenthum nada vai eduthutaan?" "He's a real dumbo. I asked him to insert a string (sic!) in my inskirt. But he removed the strings from all my inskirts!" 'Thiruvaazthans', poor fellows, may have been dyslexic or such, but in the absence of proper, scientific methods, kids who showed 'Thiruvaazthan' tendencies were given a drubbing, dubbed and dumped to be life-long dumbos. Good ol' 'paatappas' (grandpas) would even call out to such Palagattans in that manner: "Dey, Thiruvaazhtha, inge vaa..." "Hey, you, (Monsieur Thiruvaazhthan), come here...". Strangely and interestingly, 'Thiruvaazthans' were always males.

'Oyosi' referred to someone who was physically very weak. Not just weak from lack of 'thraani' (stamina), but having a weak constitution. ''Avalalai onnum pannal agaathu. Oyosi. Onnamglass Oyosi." "She just can't do a thing. She's week. Absolutely weak". Though, when attempting a transliteration, 'onnamglass' means 'first grade or first rate'. If the legendary Kollywood sidekick Omakkuchi Narasimhan had been a Palagattan, his grandmother may have called him an 'onnamglass oyosi'!

'Gundu Chettiyila Kudhurai Ottarthu'. This is a Palagattan-ism which means someone is so jobless__emphasizing on the state of joblessness__that he or she is riding a horse in a cooking pot. 'Gundu chetti' is a vessel, in a pot shape. 'Kudhurai ottarthu' means ride a horse. "Enna da-ppey. Gundu Chettiyila Kudhurai Ottarayoda?" is a common refrain senior Palagattans make when they see a10-year-old, flying an imaginary airplane while running around the household.

'Aachaanukku Eechaan Madinikku Odaporandaan' (AEMO): This Palagattan-ism has a chequered usage. Though it means the same, every which way it is used. In Palagattan weddings or family feasts, someone would swing by for a free, sumptuous meal, without an invitation. That someone may not be a rank outsider. But would be a relative by a phenomenally long, distant, often lost, connection. In such circumstances, either the host or a family opinion-maker, often an AEMO, herself, may say: "Paaru paaru. Aachaanukku eechaan madinikku odaporandaan nu chollindu, antha Kalpathy mama vum mami yum oru vettu vettara". "Look at that. Claiming to be some distant, lost relation, the mama and mami from Kalpathy are having a go (at the feast!)!!" Some people call this 'aachaanukku peethan madinikku odaporandaan'. Purists argue that since its words are borrowed from Malayalam, it must read, 'achaanukku peechanukku madinikku odaporandaan'. Meaning, literally, 'father's younger brother's, sister-in-law's relative or sibling' establishing clearly that it is a long, distant, lost relationship!

'Kazhudai Ketta Kutti Chevaru': Though this is exactly the way it is pronounced and used, always, and means there's no use crying over an event that has not gone in your favor or has not met your expectations, because you did not make a whole-hearted effort, the author's research begs some attention. 'Kazhudai' means a donkey. 'Ketta' means spolit. 'Kutti chevaru' means small or low (compound) wall. A transliteration like, 'when a donkey spoils there is a low wall', makes no sense. So, the actual pronunciation must be 'kazhudaikku etta kutti chevaru'. 'Etta' here (not to be confused with the Malayalam 'yetta' which means brother) refers to that which cannot be reached. Therefore, this Palagattan-ism, when transliterated means, 'a donkey mourns a wall, and spends hours suffering in silence, though it can clearly scale it, but thinks it cannot'. Similarly, when we lose out on something because we behaved or attempted only in a half-hearted manner, but later mourn the lost opportunity, this saying assumes significance. "Nee padicheyo? Illai. Ini ippo azhuthootu enna proyojanam? Kazhudhaikku etta kutti chevaru." "Did you study (at all)? No. What's the point in now crying (now that you have scored poorly__implied)?"

Given the poor form of the Kolkatta Knight Riders in IPL 2, if SRK had been a Palagattan, his grandma would have told him ''Onnodu team onnamglass oyosi vakkum. Ni ippo azhuthootu enna proyojanam? Kazhudhaikku etta kutti chevaru. Antha chandalaan Buchanan thiruvaazthan akkum. Nee kekelai, naan chonnathai. Onnodu Naalu Kaptainmaarum gundu chettiyila kudhurai ottinduirrukka. Aachaanukku peechan, madinikku odanporandaan nu collindu or McCullum verai. Peshadikku Dadaveye shethukko Kaptaina''. "Your team's weak. What's the point in mourning (the defeats) now?. Buchanan is a dumbo. You didn't heed my warnings. All your four (rotating) captains are jobless. And McCullum has cited some long, lost connection with you (to pull wool over your eyes) and usurped the capatincy. Listen to me, just take Dada back. (You will be King--implied!)!!!"

As all followers of this blog can see, English can never reflect what (a) Palagattan (the language) intends!!