Wednesday, April 29, 2009


'Kollai' in Palagattan, being discussed here, is distinctly different from the Tamizh 'Kolai' (which means murder) and the Malayalam 'kolay' (which means a sheaf of coconut palm or bunch of bananas).

'Kollai' in Palagattan means the back area of a house. It is the area that traditionally housed the dishwashing area, the well, the washing stone (on which clothes were beaten to pulp to make them come clean!), the bathroom and the toilets (squatting, Indian style).

So, if you wanted a rat trap (the wooden trap cage of yore, remember?) and asked someone in the household, you would be told, 'kollaila irrukku'. "It is in the back of the house".

However, for reasons best known to long lost Palagattans, 'Kollai' soon assumed a connotation and context that it could not get rid off. Which is, when someone went to the back of the house to use the toilet, the factual Palagattan statement was 'kollaiku poyirkkan'. Which is, "he has gone to the back of the house", almost covering up the 'mission' and clothing it in a euphemism such as 'back of the house'.

But, both bad intent and unjustified euphemisms can never stay suppressed for too long. Hence over a period of time, 'kollai' came to refer to the act of doing the 'Big Dump', the 'Big Job' or 'passing stools' (sic!).

But unfortunately, 'kollai' as the back of the house and 'kollai' as an act have both lost relevance in a modern day context. This blog wants Palagattan readers to try using this really loaded word whenever referring to the wash areas of their homes or substitute the rather stylish 'he's in the loo!' with 'kollaiku poyirkkan'! Cool?

1 comment:

  1. Its been a LOOONG time since anyone said "kollai pakkam poittu varen", so that was refreshing...but it isn't a totally palagattan word, if i'm right