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!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

'Adi Thadi Pullise' and other exasperated Palagattan exclamations!

Author's Note: This morning I woke up to a flooded mail box...both on Facebook and on my email. That this humble blog would evoke such a passionate following and response defies a modest Palagattan's imagination. I wish to reiterate to all followers, known and unknown, seen and unseen, felt and unfelt, that all your words/expressions/idioms will be taken up. And clarified. Keep your comments and queries coming. You can post them on Facebook, on the blog itself or mail me at

I would also like to celebrate this blog's first commenter and follower, also its first opinion-maker, a non-Palagattan, Aniruddh Sankaran. Regretfully, I had omitted his name while raising a toast to other followers. Without his first comment, we wouldn't be where we are today__as a blog, as a bunch of boisterous, zoozoo-like Palagattans! Thanks, Sir!!

Palagattans are real fun when they are exasperated__with someone, something or just with themselves!!

'Adi Thadi Pullise': Bawling and brawling kids are any (Palagattan) mother's nightmare. But the Palagattan mom vents her fury on her spouse. And the most common exasperation, in such circumstances, is: "Onnum kekkanda ketela? Adi Thadi Pullise akkum inge." "Don't ask me. There's a brawl on over here and the police have to be called." 'Pullise' is Palagattan for 'police'. And 'adi thadi' refers to the brawl, what with the kids coming to blows. The expression found its origins, perhaps, from the highly unionized, militant student politics environment in Kerala. Colleges and schools in the state were often closed because of clashes between student groups. Considering that Palakkad, where the meek peace-loving Palagattans originate from, is in Kerala, it is possible that the expression was borrowed by Palagattan moms who found it difficult to control their broods. However, in today's instant gratification, SMS generation, while ATP__'adi thadi pullise'__may serve the purpose of communicating the situation on hand but can never whip up the passion conveyed by the full-throated cry of desparation.

'Maar Adichakkanam': This is a Tamizh and Tamizh culture inspired Palagattan usage. In Tamizh culture and among some Tamizh families, it is a practice for womenfolk__mother, sister, wife, sisters-in-law, grandmother__ to beat their chests ('maar' in Tamizh) when a male member passes away. It signifies a hopeless situation of grief when the women wail mournfully. 'Maar Adichakkarthu' is the act of beating one's chest in Tamizh. However, exasperated Palagattans use the expression 'maar adichakkanam' __ 'now, I must beat my chest'__in the context of their having to deal with a situation that is devoid of any intellect, professionalism or discipline. 'Intha aasari vanthutuillai. Avanodu aallugalodu ini naan maar adichakkanam!'. 'The carpenter has not shown up. Now, I need to sweat over his people to get the job done'. Simply put, 'Maar Adichakkanam' is Palagattan for 'having to painfully, mournfully, labor over' something or someone.

'Chandi Vaaya Moodindu Irrukka Chollu': 'Chandi' means the bum in Palagattan. And 'vaay' means mouth. 'Moodindu Irrukka Chollu' means 'tell someome to keep 'it' closed'. In chaste Palagattan, 'chandi vaaya moodindu irrukka chollu' means, asking someone not to act too smart and keep his or her trap shut. While there may be a temptation to interpret 'chandi vaay' as 'the mouth of the bum', one must give credit to Palagattans, as extolled in earlier posts, for being non-vulgar people. The inference here is purely to keeping the mouth and the exit shut__which means, don't act smart, just shut up and sit tight! A typical usage would be when a Palagattan father is exasperated with his son's academic performance and is still having to consider letting him go for playing cricket at the state level. The father is then firmly wont to declare to his wife: "Ooh! Pinne? Adutha Sachin Tendulkarnu nennaippo? Onnum venda. Chandi Vaaya Moodindu Irrukka chollu" "Oh! My, my!! Is he dreaming of being the next Sachin Tendulkar? No need. Tell him not to act too smart and to shut up and sit tight (and, implied, study!)!"

Critical Note: Even the 'ooh!' mentioned above is exclusively Palagattan. And coupled with 'Pinne' which actually means 'what next?', it becomes a doubly lethal Palagattan exclamation: "Ooh! Pinne?" "Oh! What's next?" And is used to chide someone and let them know that you don't buy their argument or gag or story!

'Oru Ezhavum Theriyathu': This is Palagattan for (the guy) 'knows jack-shit about something' or is used to say that 'someone knows nothing'. The beauty__and poetry__in the Palagattan language comes alive in this usage. 'Ezhavum' means not just nothing but 'precious little'. It is in its usage that the meaning assumes shape and significance. A septuagenarian Palagattan who is well trained in the Vedic chants, viz., 'Rudram and Chamakam', may comment of a young teenage Palagattan lad, training to be a priest, dismissively: "Chuppukuttyku oru ezhavum theriyarthillai. Athaan vadhiyaar kanda kanda kuttigalai-ellam anupivekkarar". "Chuppukutty knows precious little. Our priest (vaadhayar) Senor Athaan, is sending kids over these days."

Followers and champions of this blog are luckier than poor Chuppukutty. If you have senior Palagattans in your family and with your knowledge of Palagattan having gone up by light years in the last three weeks, the 'oru ezhavum theriyarthillai' exclamation may never be applied on you!!!

Praise be to the blog! Long live the blog!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

'Ambadayaan', 'Aathukaari', 'Shaddagar' , 'Kozhunthan' and 'Naathanaar'

First: A note of apology to followers commenting on this blog...especially Priya, Vaani (my wife!), Vijay and Chittur Venkat (Rema).....due to my rather poor understanding of how blogs work, and my mediocre ambitions of just having fun with this blog, I never expected to see your comments and hence missed them. It was only today that I saw them and was delighted. Bowled over. Bheiysh! Bheiysh!! Romba Pramadham.

Today, we will explore Palagattan relationships.

'Ambadayaan' is Palagattan for husband. And usually senior Palagattan 'paatimaas' (grandmas) or 'paatas' (grandpas) ask young brides in the family about their husbands by addressing them as 'ambadayaans'. "Onnodu amabadayaan vanthurkane illoyo?" "Your husband has come, hasn't he?" In the good old Palagattan traditions, men would not visit their wives' families so often. This, I deduced much later in life, had to do with the ego quotient that menfolk had in a Palagattan community. Therefore, the senior Palagattan's query was always loaded and led to snide or sarcastic remarks by other members of the girl's (wife's) family__though never, ever in front of her own 'ambadayaan'.

And 'aathukaari' is the wife. The usage of this word is more liberal. Anyone can refer to anyone's wife and enquire of her welfare calling her so-and-so's 'aathukaari'. 'Aam' in Palagattan is home. A slight variation of this word is 'aathu', which also means home in Palagattan. So, 'aathukaari' is home-maker in Palagattan, typically, someone's wife. "Naan rendu small vishirukkennu enodu aathakaariku theriyadhu ketela?" "My wife doesn't know that I have had a couple of smalls (drinks!). Ok?". The reference to smalls/small drinks is a misnomer. Palagattans have a genetic linkage__joined at the hip (actually, at the hic!)__with Malayalis. An average Malayali or Malayalataan (for a Palagattan) will refer to having several drinks (perhaps, a full bottle of 12 60ml measures) as a couple of 'smalls'. And so a Palagattan man, who is adventurous and is not the sort who fears his wife, will swing (visharthu) a couple of drinks, bottoms up, but never openly acknowledge it to the wife.

These words are distinctly different from those meaning the same in Tamizh. Husband in Tamizh is 'veetukaran' or 'purushan'. And wife in Tamizh is 'veetukaari' or 'pondati'.

Another distinct Palagattan word is for the wife's sister's husband who is a brother-in-law in the manner of deducing a relationship. Palagattan men relate to their wives' sisters' husbands as 'shaddagars'. This word is uniquely Palagattan. And educated, inventive Palagattans have come up with the word 'co-brother' to mean 'shaddagar' in English. Purists believe the word 'co-brother' is a very Indian Palagattan usage; it does not exist in ANY English dictionary. "My co-brother, you know my 'shaddagar', my wife's sister's husband, he is an accomplished Violinist," is a declaration that will not surprise any ordinary Palagattan. Non-Palagattans are normally foxed with any reference to a 'co-brother'!!!

'Kozhunthan' is the way a wife will refer to her husband's younger brother in Palagattan. In Tamizh this relation would be a 'machinan' and in Hindi 'devar'. "Enga aathulla, ennodu kozhunthan aathukaarikkuthan ella mariyadai". "In our home, my brother-in-law's wife gets all the respect (and attention)."

The husband's sister is referred to as 'naathanaar' by the wife. I have never been able to understand this. Or maybe, I am too naive. 'Naatham' in Tamzih means 'stink' and 'naar' in Tamizh refers to the strands of coir from a coconut shell or a rope. So, 'naathanaar' literally means a 'stinking rope'. Perhaps, that is an apt way to define the relationship a wife has with the husband's sister in Palagattan? "Ennodu naathanaar oru adangapiradi akkum." "My husband's sister is uncontrollable."

Palagattan is a great language. The nuances in its usage, as extolled by this blog, will make many a follower proficient. So, keep following and keep commenting....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

'Asugam', 'Sookherdu', 'Degha-ubadhruvam', 'Pani'....all Palagattan ailing states!

When a Palagattan has fever, he/she has 'pani'. 'Pani' (pronounced like half the word in 'pani-ni') actually means 'dew' in Tamizh and when pronounced with an exaggerated 'n', means 'work' in Malayalam. But Palagattans attribute most common fevers to come from expsoure to early morning dew. And so, they generalize and say, someone has 'pani' when that someone is beginning to run a higher temperature. Some Palagattans also call fever 'joram'. However, no Palagattan, ever will use the Tamizh word 'kaachal' to describe a feverish state.

When sick, Palagattans have 'asugam'. Which literally means unwell in English--'sugam' in Malayalam means 'doing well', so, 'a-sugam' means 'unwell'. But it must be understood that 'asugam' pertains to a non-so-serious state of ailment. Like a common cold ('jaladosham' or 'cheerappu'-discussed in an earlier post) or a viral fever. The Tamizh usage will be 'odambukku vandurkku' or 'odambu seriya illai' both implying an not-so-serious ailment.

A continued state of 'asugam', diagnosed further as a disease like malaria, typhoid or asthma, is referred to as 'sookherdu' (pronounced 'sookedu'). The other usage of 'sookherdu' is when someone in the family or circle of influence dissents on a decision or shows abnormal tendencies of loony behavior. In such cases, 'sookherdu' refers to 'discomfort' or 'what's wrong with (that person)?'. In Tamizh, we will understand a person's diseased state as 'noi'.

Senior Palagattans, often times purists, use the word 'degha-ubadhruvam' to describe the condition of their health/bodies. 'Degham' in Malayalam means body and 'ubadhruvam' in Malayalam means trouble. Palagattans who are fit as a fiddle even after they are well past their 70s can be heard using this word to affirm that their bodies are not troubling them at all. Alas, there is no Tamizh equivalent that this author can immediately think off for this rare, Palagattan gem!

Typical usages of these words/expressions:

'Pani': "Aye! Avanai paduthathey. Pani akkum!" "Hey, don't disturb him. He's got fever."
'Asugam': "Avanodu asugam marave mattengarthu" "He continues to ail." though literally it would be "His ailment doesn't seem to change (sic!-go away!!)".
'Sookherdu': "Enna kandravi sookherdo theriayallai" "Can't diagnose what his goddammed disease is all about!"
'Sookherdu': In the other context, discussed above, Palagattans would say: "Avannukku oru sookherdu undu kettiya? Poramai akkum". "He has a problem. He's jealous".
'Degha-ubadhruvam': "Deivanugraham irrukkarthunaala ennakku degha-ubadhruvam onnum illai!!" "By God's grace my body doesn't trouble me (at all)!".

Here's wishing all Palagattans good health so that 'pani', 'asugam', 'sookherdu' and 'degha-ubadhruvam' are expunged from their lives and just remain academic terms on this blog!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

'Shevandi Koththa', 'Thendi', 'Mundachi' and other Palagattan expressions!

The response to the list of expressions Palagattans love to use posted yesterday has been outstanding.

This blog's follower Ranjani Raghavan, a fellow Palagattan, has won Day 1 of The Official Palagattans Expressions Challenge announced yesterday. The author lists Ms.Raghavan's picks and adds value by elucidating on their origins and usage.

'Thallupolli' : Borrowed from the original Malayalam. This refers to someone who is a vagabond, an useless fellow. "Avana? Thallupolli akkum. Onnathukkum kollathu." "Him? He's such an useless fellow!"

'Nozhaneri': A busybody-cum-compulsive conspirator. This is an exclusive Palagattan word. In a harmless context, this is used to describe precocious children who enter a just-married Palagattan couple's (bed)room and insist on raiding the chest of drawers which may contain private belongings like contraceptives or love notes or such! When applied to adults, the reference is to a family member or distantly related wheeler-dealer who took someone for a ride. "Nozhaneri, nozhaneri. Avanai nambathe kettaya?" "He's a nonzhaneri. Don't trust him, Ok?"

'Thendi': Another Malayalam word. Used by Palagattans to describe someone who is loitering around aimlessly in life. Had the Farhan Akhtar movie 'Lakshya' been based on a Palagattan's story, Hrithik Roshan may have been dubbed a 'thendi' by his screen father, Boman Irani. "Thendi, onnaku enna da theriyum, panathodu velai?" "Hey, you, who loiters aimlessly, how would you know the value of money?"

'Mundachi': This may rate as the harshest of all Palagattan expressions. While it means widow, Palagattans being the highly sensitive (sic!) species that they are, never use it to describe actual widows. On the other hand, they use it on really close family members like a mother, sister, mother-in-law, first (female) cousin or daughter-in-law. This is bizzarre. Because calling a married woman or an unmarried girl a widow is against any norm of decorum or decency. That too respectable Palagattan women being the targets? But strange are the ways of the Palagattan world. "Mundachi! Chumma irru!!". "Widow! Shut Up!!"

Author's Choicest Picks Continued....

'Shevandi Koththa': In English, this refers to an undertaker who runs a crematorium or cemetry. But the better way to understand the import of this Palagattan usage is to relate to its Tamizh synonym 'vettiyan', one who burns corpses in a Hindu crematorium. 'Shevandi Koththa', in Palagattan, is used to describe someone who is an inveterate trouble maker, or one who, in a modern day context, is referred to as a pain in the arse. Usually, very old (and senile) Palagattans use the word to describe teenagers who are prone to practical/destructive mischief.
"Kallu kodichutu, vandi ottindo vandhurkaan, shevandi koththa!" "You drove drunk, you undertaker." As is evident, one more time, English can never help the Palagattan lingo's cause.

'Nakkaa-poraan': This is the author's favorite. Trans-literated it goes, 'one who is about to lick'. The origin of this word is from the act of relishing a Palagattan feast ('ellai pott-ta saddhi!'). Most Palagattans, in the pre-modern days would eat from a banana leaf daily. After the entire meal service was over, often with a serving of rice and buttermilk, the residual buttermilk dripping from the right palm and draining down the right arm down to the right elbow, had to be licked. This act was called 'nakkarthu' (licking!). And a person who was at the just-about-to-lick moment was called 'nakkaa-poraan'. Even today, respectable and self-respecting Palagattans indulge in this public display of licking to demonstrate how much satiated they are and how much they relished a 'saddhi' at a family event or festival. But 'nakkaa-poraan', in usage, has come to describe someone who is cheap and behaves in an atrocious manner in public. "Atho, nakkaa-poraan. Pathale kashtama irrukku." "There's a cheapo. Can't stand it".

'Gooja-thooki': Another Palagattan gem. In the good old days when most Palagattans, without exception, were accomplished Carnatic vocalists, they used to be accompanied by an assistant who carried their 'goojas' or flasks containing hot water or filter 'kaapi'. One who carries anything is called a 'thooki' in colloquial Malayalam. Hence the one carrying the 'gooja' was called 'gooja-thooki'. This person, practically, was the Palagattan vocalist's shadow or personal assistant, who would comply with every one of his master's wishes/commands. Over the years, the Palagattan vocalists' population has dwindled, but the 'gooja-thooki' reference has stayed on to describe anyone who is subservient to another. In Tamizh, the word describing a 'gooja-thooki' is 'jalra' and in Hindi, they call such a person a 'chamcha'. Interestingly, all normal references to 'gooja-thookis' is to male Palagattans. "Avan, seriyana gooja-thooki (v)akkum. Ellathukkum aamaam cholluvaan." "He's subservient. Will say yes to everything."

More expressions are welcome please. A more serious follower of this blog remarked offline that this blog was doing yoeman service to the next generation of Palagattans by preserving the rich legacy of the clan's lingo. So, please wear your thinking caps, consult senior Palagattans in your families and write in your expressions. The DVDs and T-shirts are on the way.....

Praise Be To The Blog!

Dear Blog Followers,

Your overwhelming response is humbling. Although you are in different parts of the world, Austin (TX), Chennai, a private follower in Chicago, one on Cenotaph Road who thinks this blog is cooler than accounting and another one in London, with some more scattered across the United States, your ambitions for this blog__to survive and unite the Palagattan world__are honorable.

Here's a sampling of some of your comments:

Aaaah! Exceptional. My Singapore Thatha's FAVORITE (and may have heard it from my maternal thatha too) -Theethrandi! excellnt post.
Please enter me for the T Shirt. I will gladly take either ! am Palagattan OR I love Nandurnis Or I Hate Mushudus... by the way, where is my MMKR DVD? :)
Kala Malini

you have so many fans! - all full of 'thraani'... all waiting to celebrate and enjoy!

wish to enroll for the quiz. any entrance fee? Or is it free on submission of Palagattan proof?
Ranjani Raghavan

you MUST discuss "thalaki-naal" (previous day) on the blog...please! need to know the origins of this one...
Aniruddh Sanakaran

Like your blog. Good work. This set me thinking on the other variant of Tamizh - Chennai Tamizh; not the expletives, but the normal diction.
V S Sambandam

Your blogs are very enjoyable and we have passed on to
many of our relatives. Keep up the good work and please do keep us entertained.You're writing in a very dignified way that makes us all very proud to be Palagattans !!!!! Thanks !
Rema & Venkat.

Author's Note:
These overwhelming comments have made me realize that a blog gets as good as its followers want it to. I want to assure all of you that this blog is non-idealistic, non-racist and is non-biased. It just is successful because all of you love Palagattan stuff, are soaked in it and like some good-natured humor. So, keep contributing your ideas, suggestions and keep spreading word of the blog to the Palagattan and non-Palagattan worlds.

A simple exercise to reaffirm this blog's popularity, supremacy, monopoly:

1. Go to Google Images and Search for 'Palagattan'
2. Go to Google and Search for 'Palagattan'
3. Raise a toast to this blog and its Plogger!

Now, that some eulogizing has happened....let me get on to some serious blogging!

Friday, May 8, 2009

'Theetharandi', 'Parakavatti', 'Nandurni' and several other exclusive Palagattan expressions!

This list is going to be long, colorful, enlightening, awakening and informative. If it amuses and arouses the reader, it surely is an intended bonus__outcome!!

Palagattans have their own bouquet of brickbats (sic!)__words and expressions they use to call people names. The author attempts to list most of the choicest that are known to him. Readers are welcome to write in with the ones they know/remember but which may not find immediate mention here. And the author promises to publish a sequel to this post, with full credit to contributors.

Disclaimer: Palagattans are a sober lot. Rarely will you find a Palagattan expression vulgar or crude in meaning__though they may come perilously close to sounding lewd and impolite.

'Theetharandi': This is Palagattan for an inconsequential person, a bloke basically, who dares to offer an opinion about a Palagattan, his/her family or home. The real meaning comes out in the usage. "Evanu oru theetharandi, avan chollarthai ellam kanakku kootathe, ketiya?" "Don't take into account (read: take to heart) what some bloke has to say". As is evident, the Palagattan usage is what packs a punch and brings the expression alive. In the English translation, the pungent essence of the expression clearly evaporates.

'Parakavatti': In Palagattan, refers to someone who is greedy about food__primarily snacks, sweets that are served in others' homes/festivals/events__like a wedding, 'seemantham' or 'gruhapravesham'. "Chi, paravatti madhiri chapadathe. Avallam enna nanaichuppa?" "Don't behave greedy. Take it easy with the food on offer. What will the others think (of you/us)?" This expression is used to chide someone who is within the family or within a close circle of infleunce.

'Nandurni': A terribly, horribly mischevious child that is hard to keep in one place. "Seriyaana nandurni akkum. Oru edathula okkarathey?" "Outrageously mischievious. Doesn't sit in a place." Interestingly, Palagattans use this expression only in the case of kids, that too infants or toddlers. I wonder why though? Wouldn't next gen Palagattan girls, just married or to be, find their lovers to be 'nandurnis'? Well, at least, I used to be one, 20 years ago. And try hard remaining so even now!!!

'Chapadachi': A non-stop Palagattan motormouth. Palagattans of all shapes and sizes usually qualify to be called so. Because motormouth and Palagattan are actually synonymous. But 'chapadachi' is the Gold Medallist in this Talkathon league. "Aval chapadachi akkum ketiya? Orruka thodangina, niruthave mattal." "She's a motormouth, who doesn't know when to stop".

'Vennai': Now, this is a rare Palagattan, who is not street smart, who is not a motormouth and is 'almost' (well, no Palagattan is ever one totally) a simpleton. Often the usage renders the meaning of 'vennai' to also imply a 'good for nothing' person. 'Vennai' in Malayalam and Tamizh means butter. Which by its physical nature is slippery and slimy. But the Palagattan 'vennai' does not mean that at all. As I said earlier, Palagattans don't sin with words. A typical usage will be. "Avan vennai. Avanala oru proyojanamum illai." "He's a vennai (can't find an English word to imply its meaning). He's of no use".

'Adangapiradi' (pronounced: 'adangaapradi'): A tempestuous, irrepressible, combative Palagattan woman. This word is borrowed from Malayalam. And is often used to describe someone who is difficult to control: either a new, city-bred daughter-in-law, or an angry, rebellious, teenaged daughter or a 'very, very, loud-mouthed, audacious, atrocious, egotistic mother-in-law'. While it connotes 'bitch', Palagattans, being who they are, will never admit to its crude canine interpretation. "Aval kitte unnum vechikathe, chollaren kettuko. Aval oru adangapiradi akkum." "Listen to me and don't have anything to do with that abrasive, arrogant, bitch! She is uncontrollable."

'Kurthamketavane': Another Malayalam-influenced expression. This is Palagattan for someone who has low moral values or is unscrupulous. Often, a display of erosion of moral values in a Palagattan's behavior, attracts this expression. "Kurthamketavane, nee pakkuthu aathu Alamelu kooda eishundutto vanthurkeya?" "O! Unscrupulous One!! I caught you smearing (sic!__the allusion is to being caught in a compromising position) yourself all over that woman Alamelu next door!" This expression, when used to describe a Palagattan woman displaying similar tendencies, manifests itself as 'kurthamketavale'.

'Mushudu': A grumpy, morose Palagattan. Interestingly, it is commonly used by Palagattan women on fellow Palagattan women. Although, honestly, the author's research reveals no such restriction imposed by the inventors of the Palagattan Tamizh lingo. The usage often applies to a Palagattan daughter calling her just-married brother's wife (the new daughter-in-law of the family) a 'mushudu'. A Palagattan daughter or mother-in-law may say of the new bride: "Mushudu paaru. Moonji thuki vechunduirrukka!". "She's sulking and so grumpy. She's pulling a long face". (Honestly 'moonji thuki vechunduirrukka' transliterates as 'lifting her face'!!!__which only proves that Palagattan Tamizh suffers phenomenal flavor-loss when translated.) Investigations by the researchers working on the lives of new Palagattan brides reveal that the grumpiness in most such women comes from an aftertaste of garlic post the first (night's) mooch (36 %), the husband's (if Palagattan) ugly, stinky belch (54 %) and the mother-in-law's insistence that the morning after begins at 4 am with a public (for women of the household) oil-bath ceremony (1o %)!!! Once settled__into the household__such a daughter-in-law returns the 'mushudu' compliment to describe her husband's sister, a.k.a 'naathanaar' (sister-in-law), in private within 2 years of marriage and always in public ever after!!!


1. This post will be continued
2. Readers are invited to offer their list of favorite Palagattan name-calling expressions for inclusion
3. Those wanting to enter a quiz for Palagattan name-calling expressions and win exclusive 'I am Palagattan. I love Nandurnis' or 'I hate Mushudus' T-shirts, may please leave their names with the author.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

'Thraani', 'Okkalikkaran' and 'Kadukarthu'

The reason this author did not write a post on this blog yesterday was because he did not have the 'thraani'.

'Thraani' is Palagattan for stamina. After a long day at work and at the gym, I just did not have the 'thraani' for blogging, that too in the sultriness of a May (agninakshatram) night in Chennai.

The Tamizh usage for stamina in a common context is 'sakthi'. So, Tamizh folks would normally say,"Odambulla sakthiye illai". "I have no stamina in me (my body)."

Purists believe that Palagattans borrowed 'thraani' __and embellished it__from the original Kannada 'thraana' which means stamina. Palagattans, however, claim just the opposite happened! Nevertheless, this is a word that is slowly becoming extinct in Palagattan homes. Most new gen Palagattans are substituting 'thraani' with words like 'energy' or even the colloquial Tamizh word 'thembu'. But in proper, pure Palagattan, an old, 80+ Palagattan grandmother would declare,"Vara vara, odambulla thraaniye illai". "Of late, I have no stamina in my body."

Such old Palagattan confessions from 'paatimaas' (grannies) fetch little or no sympathy from today's young and happening Palagattans. After all, the Palagattan men and women of the 30s and 40s displayed so much 'thraani' in their youth and middle age.

Consider this: most Palagattans who married in the early 1900s, 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s and, possibly, 50s, procreated with alarming alacrity. Rarely does a Palagattan family tree have less than eight siblings in each family branch a generation above today's 40+ Palagattan. My families__both paternal and maternal__had 11 siblings each. Which means both sets of my grandparents demonstrated indefatigable 'thraani' when it came to procreation. Siblings in such Palagattan families were born, at times, within 12 to 13 months of each other. Which made the Palagattan male of yore, a Mr.Macho, who needed no Viagara or artificial stimulants. While the Palagattan woman was possibly a great reveller in bed with greater 'thraani'. I say this not out of any disrespect but out of great admiration because most 'paatimaas' (grannies) outlived the 'paatas' (grandpas) and stayed beautiful (with their mookuthis and vairathodus), active and lived long, extra long lives. In fact, some of them continue to be active at 80+ even today. [Researchers have been unable to put their finger on what has caused the Palagattan race to limit their family size post the 1950s: education, inflation or global warn(m)ing!?]

So, young Palagattan adults of today, perhaps, have every right to question the validity of a 'zero-thraani' lament by a 'paatimaa' because they believe a lot of 'thraani' was handsomely invested in producing bi-sexual (co-ed?) cricket teams of 11+ people in each family. My own firm belief is that had Palagattans had a Gujju gene (read Lalit Modi-like), the IPL would have been launched as the Indian Palagattan League long, long ago. Probably in the previous century. And we would have had teams like 'Noorani Nandurnis', 'Kalapathi Kacherikaaras', 'Athipotta Ambis' and 'Kavuseri Kudumis'.

Having elucidated on 'thraani' in the context discussed above, it may pay to look at it from two more perspectives.

A Palagattan who develops a nauseating feeling and brings out food or throws up is referred to as indulging in 'okkalikkaran'. To be sure, it is a verb and not a noun. The actual act of throwing up in Palagattan, as in Tamizh, is called 'vaandhi' (vomit). But 'okkalikkaran' describes the manner in which the Palagattan throws up, loudly, indecently, impolitely. Sometimes, waking up the neighborhood. A poor Tamizh usage is 'komatindu varadhu'. Meaning 'it is all gurging (sic!) out'. Actually, let's state this: the Palagattan 'okkalikkaran' is non-pariel, without parallel. A Palagattan grandma could say,"Avana paaru. Eppidi okkalikkaran." "Look at him. God, the manner in which he is throwing up?". Chances are, after an hour of the Palagattan continuing to throw up, the grandma could state,"Paavum, odambulla thraaniye illai". "Poor guy, he hasn't any stamina left!".

Palagattans also have a special word to distinguish pain from ache. And it is often converse to the English synonyms. For instance, you say stomachache in English, while in Palagattan, you would say, 'vaayathu veli'. Or you say, headache in English and say 'thalai veli' in Palagattan. But in English you say painful legs, while in Palagattan you would say 'kaalu kadukarthu'. The word 'kadukarthu' is used only by Palagattans and only in the context of the lower limbs of the body__the legs or feet (both are 'kaalu'). Often times, a Palagattan's 'kaalu kadukarthu' wail may come from the lack of 'thraani' (stamina) in the body.

And, interestingly, 'kadukarthu' does not apply to other parts of the anatomy, for instance, the heart. Because, even for Palagattans, the heart must go on!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

'Mukkal', 'Muttal' and 'Monaghal'

These are three famous Palagattan usages__their very own 3M: 'Mukkal', 'Muttal' and 'Monaghal'.

All three are basically descriptive of sounds that emanate from a distressed Palagattan. The beauty of Palagattan Tamizh is evident in these 3Ms__each one aptly contextualized for specific moments of distress.

'Mukkal' is Palagattan for the unsuppressable moan that comes from someone who is struggling in the loo. It basically describes the vocal suffering of one who is constipated. A typical usage would be: "Paavum akkum avan, kollai-le mukkindu irrukkan". "The poor guy is moaning in the loo". However, what needs to be noted is that constipation is implied as the sufferer's condition when the Palagattan statement is made. The English translation, sadly, does not do as much justice though.

'Muttal' is Palagattan for the painful moan that someone suffering from an asthmatic attack makes. An asthma attack leads to a condition called wheezing. This is what in Palagattan is called 'eiyuzhippu'. But Palagattans also have a poetic streak in them. So, they went further than the act of 'eiyuzhippu' (wheezing) and defined the moan that emanates at the end of each wheeze. Purists would understand 'muuchu muttarthu' as a phrase in Tamizh that means 'suffocating' or 'choking' or 'out of breath'. And since asthma is basically the condition when the lungs receive lesser oxygen, Palagattans borrowed and embellished the 'muttarthu' word. 'Muttal' is the noun to describe the action called 'muttarthu'. An elderly Palagattan could say: "Avan kitta chitha peshadikki irrukka chollu. Paaru, epidi muttarthu." "Just ask him to stay quiet and not talk too much. Look how bad his wheeze (and moan__sic!) is!!"

'Monaghal' is Palagattan for muttering under one's breath. Often when young Palagattan girls are asked by their mothers to clear the prayer (saami) room or draw the traditional motifs made of rice powder (an entire process called 'vaasal thelichu kolam podarathu') in the front yard of the house, they mutter under their breath. Sometimes, young Palagattan boys are asked to join in the prayers or take their grandparents to the doctor, while all they want to do is oogle at the girls in the neighborhood, and they too mutter under their breath. So, 'monaghal' is not just a sound or a metaphorical moan. But describes a series of incomprehensible words spoken__like the lingo of the zoozoos in the currently playing classic Vodafone ads. The Tamizh word for this is 'polambal'. A typical Palagattan usage would be: "Enna da, monagharai? Ni Monaghinathunaala unnam naan mashiyamatten, kettiya?" "Why are you muttering under your breath? Remember, your muttering protest is not going to make me give up or give in. Get that."

Perhaps, this blog, if it had been written earlier, could have given Danny Boyle a creative suggestion for his highly acclaimed SM. Instead of using The Three Musketeers from Alexander Dumas in his script, he could have possibly gone with the Palagattan 3M?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

'Jeeram', 'appey' and the 'sero'.

Palagattans have a way with corrupting names/usages.

I have often found the name Sriram being pronounced 'Jeeram' by a Palagattan. "'Jeeram' anna vandhurakkan." Meaning, 'My elder brother Sriram has come'. To the innocent, ignorant observer, who understands 'Jeeram' (also the corrupt version of the Tamizh 'jeeragam' ) as the Tamizh equivalent of the Hindi 'jeera', this statement may seem bizzare. I researched and searched and researched but cannot still account for how and when Sriram morphed into 'Jeeram'.

Or consider 'appey'. Which is like 'Hey You!' or 'Dude'. But given the fact that Palagattans were never the 'cool' folks, 'appey' often was used only by older people on younger ones when they were giving an advice or instruction.

"Nalekku varanam, keteyoda-ppey?" "Listen dude, show up tomorrow."

"Enna da-ppey, ippidi pannituey?" "Hey you, you screwed up."

The word 'zero' when used by a true blue-blood Palagattan would always be uttered as 'sero'. This become particularly evident when a Palagattan gives out a phone number: 9-9-4-sero-sero-1-sero-sero-5-sero! And even this 'sero' is pronounced with a nasal twang (a la Himesh Reshammiyya) and sounds close to 'seiro' uttered with one nostril closed. In fact, when you hear 'sero', even with your eyes closed, you can smell a Palagattan at the other end!!!

But the cake goes to the usage of the word station, usually a railway station. It is used as 'seshan'. Seshan, interestingly, is also the common name that most Palagattan men are given. My sister-in-law recently shared her grandmother's usage of this word. Her grandmother would often take a late evening train that will help her reach Palakkad in the wee hours. And in the absence of proper, safe public transport, the old lady would often sleep on a bench outside the railway station till day break to visit my sister-in-law. And upon reaching my sister-in-law's home, she would proudly declare,"Train ellam vanduduthu. Orre irruttu ketiya. 'Seshan' kitta paduthundootu vandhen".

Here's how the old lady's statement translates__if you don't know that Palagattans can call a railway station, 'seshan': "The train was on time. It was very dark. So I slept with 'seshan' and then came".

Poor old lady. I am sure I am going to be cursed for such a perverted inference. Nevertheless, it is usages such as this__'seshan' for a railway station__that makes Palagattan Tamizh so quirky, so adorable, so relishable and so laughable!

Hope you are having a good time with this blog!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

'Cheerappu' and 'Jaladosham'

There is no clear reason why older Palagattan women (especially grandmothers) like to use the word 'Cheerappu' (pronounced 'chiraapu') when 'Jaladosham' is an easy and better understood substitute.

To me both 'Cheerappu' and 'Jaladosham' mean the same: a bad attack of common cold accompanied with bouts of sneezing ('thummal'), running nose ('mooku ozhugarathu') and similar horrendous symptoms__including that horrific English word phlegm ('chali').

However, purists from the Palagattan ilk believe that 'Cheerappu' is a bad attack of common cold while 'Jaladosham' is running nose. Interestingly, 'Jaladosham', translated literally means 'the curse of water' because Palagattans reason that an improperly handled (read dried) head bath is the most common cause for a common cold and running nose. Nobody really knows what 'Cheerappu' means literally.

Typical usages of both words by my paternal grandmother, Subbalakshmi Ammal:
"Thalai nanna thodaichukko kettaya, illata 'cheerappu' pidikkum". "Dry your hair properly (after a head bath) else you will catch a cold".
"Paavum, avasthapadaran. 'Jaladosham'." "Poor fellow, he's suffering. He has a cold".
"Unnakku 'Cheerappu' akkum, mooka cheendhu ketiya?" "You have a bad cold; why don't you blow your nose?"

So, next time you are reaching out to the box of Kleenex tissues at your bedside, remember, you could just be suffering from 'Cheerappu' or 'Jaladosham' and not from Swine Flu. And thank Palagattans and this now-famous blog for helping you stay sane with this clarity/awareness.