Blog post by Gayatri Subramanian
TamBrahm children have chamathuness in their genes.Very rarely will you find any complaints from teachers or neighbors about kundrathaditanam. We are good children, we eat our lentils and legumes, greens veggies. Exuding all the chamathuness in the world. Eggs, maamsam (chicken, mutton, fish etc) are grade A taboos. And adulam toda praadhu, partner odu dabba la omelette irundhana, no touching, illatu ammai chandi tolu uruchudwa.
There are two kinds of people who dharam brashtofy- Type one: The ones off to YouYesYay. Now the concept of vegetarian food there is ‘rabbit food’. How long can someone survive on that? Eventually you concede defeat and switch to meat, these kind of folks get forgiven fast enough. Atthais and atthimber be like, poor kid has to eat something na, besides, half the forgiveness is earned when you mention YouYesYay (USA) to them.
Type 2 – The other type of nalla vegetarian khozundais who have a spotless record till they hit college. Some of us are granted the gift of hostel life.
First week in the hostel, you continue your nalla habits – time to time kuli, time to time chaapaadu (veg only), time to time pujai and sandhyavandanam. Then roommate comes bearing gifts from home. (mandatory ghar ka khaana is packed and given to have you survive through college)
Your roomie is a kattar Maharashtrian so non veg is like smartphones to them, very much needed in all walks of life. He opens his dabba of home cooked chicken gravy and a fragrance so enticing wafts into the room. In that single solitary moment, all thoughts of pure vegetarianism is chased out of your head and all you can think of is that chicken in gravy. Having lost all rational thoughts, you reach out to grab a piece. But nalla kozhundai in you reminds you that you have a poonal and this is blasphemy. You try for the samurai way of inner race and self control not to fall off the wagon, but what can you do. All those chicken pieces are doing cabaret around your head, inviting you to try just one juicy piece. That’s all the push you need. You put your poonal in the wallet so technically you are still toeing the line of dharma brashtofy. Me – 1. Conscience – 0.
You continue to expand your culinary interests free of guilt.
Chicken – check
Mutton – check
Sea food – double check
…till it’s finally time to go home again.
It’s worse than withdrawal, when you crave chicken at home. You sneak around like a thief trying to indulge in your sinful food pleasures. But somewhere deep deep down in your heart your nalla kozhundai alert keeps beeping, you need to confess to your parents. Now breaking a news to your parents is worst possible crime you could commit, (news breaking is subject to mood changes in the house,please assess the moods of Ammai and Appa before opening your mouth).
To make this as less violent as possible you plan a vacation to keep them in good spirits, take them to a couple of kovils. (kovil visiting TamBrahms are the happiest TamBrahms), be a nalla kozhundai wear a veshti/ half sari, utter the right mantrams, do vendithals like your life depended on it. Your efforts having paid off a visibly happy Ammai and Appa settle for dinner with you in the hotel. Moment of truth arriveth as you order seafood. Picture something disgusting then multiply it by 100, yep that’s the expression on both their faces, they are torn between hurling the frying pan in which the fish came at you and making you drink dettol to purify you. But as I said kovils have these magical properties so you are saved from flying pans and dettols. Poor Ammai is trying so hard not to vaandi edthufy, whereas Appa has a bemused expression on his face, wonder wether to chandi thol uruchufy then and there or disown you and save himself the trouble. You put on your nonchalance at its best and try to dig in into fishy curry and rice yum yum. But you notice appa and amma staring at the fish with the ‘world has ended expression’. That expression is enough to bring back all the nala kozhaindaigal teachings in you. Being staunch believers of non wastage of food you are allowed to finish that fish..and switch to under strict parental scrutiny.
Moral of the story – Don’t ever eat maamsam in front of Amma Appa or any other relative, you will be tossed to the deepest pits of hell, before you can take the first bite.
Second moral of the story – Never fool yourself into thinking that you can bring about drastic change in your lifestyle and have your parents be OK with it, you can’t have the cake and eat it too.
P.S – the above actions have been performed by professionals. Do not try this at home (not everyone survives flying pans)
P.P.S – Catch hold of that Marathi/ Punjabi/ Christrian friend of yours and go over to the dark side. If you are going to hell, might as well do it properly.
P.P.P.S – If by pure miracle, your parents are taking this culinary change of yours marginally well, and all you get is a shrug and ennaithem pannu nee, periyavan aayachu nee.Take this as approval and run away as fast as you can!