The Last of the Maamis

As a rule I’m not too fond of the maamis. The ones that insist on being madi*, the ones that fret over rahu kaalam** and yama kandam**, the ones that don’t enter the kitchen during their period, the ones that insist that other women in the house follow these rules at the same time cutting the men slack, the ones that think that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, the ones that gossip when a couple does not have a child after a year of being married, the ones that flaunt their Reebok shoes and their thick ropes masquerading as thaalis# during their morning walks, the ones that sport incongruous “Penn State” bumper stickers on their Maruti 800 cars.

I’ve been very happy that my grandmom is extremely un maami like for her generation and my mom tends more towards non maami except the odd instance here and there when her maami traits do show through . And me? Nah, after years of careful cultivation I’m practically non maami.

Yesterday I received a gift from a colleague.  A “Horlicks bottle” full of mavadu##. Homemade by his mother.

Needless to say I was thrilled and was trying to come to terms with how much mavadu she must have made to offer non family so much. I sent up a silent cheer to her and stopped in my tracks. Now this was a maami trait I appreciated quite a bit! My grandma did make mavadu, but now her health does not really allow too much of work. My mother was never a pickle – vadam person. My mother does supply me with my sambar podi and rasam podi and she makes her own idly maavu. With assorted members of the family having been afflicted with high BP, high cholestrol, diabetes etc, the bhakshanam@ being made has completely dwindled. We were never a family of sweet eaters – so sweets are a no show again. And who do we have to take this rich legacy forward in the family?  Me.

Maamis are facing extinction. And are being replaced by Grand Sweets. Not a very comforting thought that.

* Madi: Being pure, a requisite to perform pujas etc

** Rahu kaalam and yama kandam: Inauspicious time in a day

# Thaali: Mangalsutra

## Mavadu: A kind of pickled raw mango

@ Bhakshanam: Snacks and sweets made for a festival or occasion


Happy and gay..

What with the major debates doing the round about sexuality…I was reminded about the time I first heard about the word “gay”..used in a context other than meaning happy!!

I don’t rememeber the exact year but I must have been around 10 or 11…I was handed a questionnaire by someone doing a survey god knows about what…but was meant to be answered by kids my age.

A question read “Do you like attending gay (happy) parties?”

Now I have no idea what prompted the guy from framing such a hilarious question…the target age group was certainly not going to appreciate the subtlities of a gay party…and having recognised that there was this ambiguity why didn’t they just say happy why bother retaining gay and then offering an explanation?? Of course all this was lost on me then and I answered yes…imagining fun birthday parties..My mother saw this and had a good laugh..and I asked her what was so funny and she explained to me what gay also meant.

Frankly that did not have any impact on me and I did not have any identity issues…did not wonder if I was gay or anything (when I first studied about heart attacks..I always imagined that one was around the corner…and every little head ache meant that I had a brain tumour!!!). And as I write this I realise that this was probably because I had watched movies where a character would sweat, clutch at his heart and collapse only to die / get into surgery… or that brain tumour meant headaches and sure shot death…these weren’t some vague ideas in my head that I couldnt relate to…but I had actually had visual representation in the form of movies or books and I could relate to it.. All of this was when I was perhaps 7 or 8…

The whole “gay” concept was of course highly hazy and vague and I did not understand what my mother was talking age 11..simply because I did not have any background…had no idea whatsover as to what this was about..on the other hand…while I studied about heart attacks and what actually causes the trouble…I conjured up the images stored in my head and could instantly relate to it…I was a healthy child and spent time worrying about getting a heart attack / brain tumour when I got a little bit of scientific knowledge about it…

Now with Dumbledore being gay (I’m not getting into whether this is a publicity stunt or not!!)…Saif Ali Khan and Shah Rukh Khan doing their thing and scandalising Kanta Ben…, Brokeback mountain…kids are getting some half baked knowledge..on the lines of me knowing about heart attacks….So my point here is that we grew up faster than our parents…our kids are going to grow up faster than us…so perhaps waiting till they turn teenagers may not be enough…they will probably end up with a warped sense of what the whole deal is about…ten years from now, I’m willing to bet that a nine year old will know that gay does not mean just happy…we are not going to be able to insulate our children against sex, violence for too long…

I was done with my dose of Enid Blyton having read and re read most of her work by the time I was 11…graduated and got fed up of Nancy Drew by the time I turned 12 and started of on Jeffrey Archer and John Grisham soon after (much to the horror of my mother) but there was simply no stopping me…

A decade down, my bet is that Enid Blyton will fade more into the background (considering that her readership dwindled with my generation itself) and its going to be a few of us who read her that are going to try and make our kids read Blyton…for all the rest..Harry Potter will do nicely and before the kid turns 10 he / she is going to know all about the nuances of kissing…and know what gay means (though not from HP as this doesnt even feature in the books and the brouhaha is sure to die down)…

So just as now when nervous parents sit down to talk to their kids about the birds and the bees (not a word about alternalte sexuality is mentioned) and the kids roll their eyes and say we’ve known for more than a year now, when parents graduate to talking about being gay and lesbian the familiar roll of eyes is going to be the response…

We can do little about it…

Hop skip and jump

I had written earlier about how the hailstones in Madras gave me that final push to start this blog…this was the incident, I think the first incident that caused me to think that I should write a blog…simply because it was such a sweet little thing that had happened that provided me with such amazement and joy and I was left thinking…a year down the line and I will not remember this little incident…

I was standing in the balcony of my home early one morning and was taking in the fresh air….I saw a mynah on the parapet wall of the neighbour’s terrace…hop hop hop it went…hopping on the wall when suddenly it lost its balance and fell…it actually fell a few feet..before remembering that it was a bird…summoned up its pride and flew up, back onto the wall!!! Wonder what went through the mind of the mynah when it was experiencing the unusual feeling of falling…the unnaturalness of the whole situation before something happened and it pulled itself up together….