Blog post by Archanaa Kumar
My school did not allow non-vegetarian to be brought in the lunch box (I am so glad), but then there were varieties of food packed in that small steel dabba and strong pungent smells of poondu, masala would float around between 12:20pm and 1 pm. Not that I disliked those fragrances (smell is a better word here?), just that too much of it gave me a sense of nausea. But Shalini’s poondu rasam was an exception, and I loved it- Amma hardly makes poondu rasam you see.
“What did I carry in my box?” you might ask, or you could just take it for granted that it was Thayir saadham and aavakkai/ maavadu with some veggies that amma would make for the day. Of course my friends called me thayir saadam, I did not mind, it has been one of the most refreshing meals ever, till date. And the deadly combos (combos that sell in Mc Ds and Pizza huts would have to do saashtaanga namaskaram and surrender to thayir saadam) are thayir saadam with vathal kuzhambu – sundakkai vathal it is …slurp, thayir saadham and veppelai katti, o yes we have narthangai maram at home and karuveppelai plants even today. Ok, let me not digress. Thayir saadham, the Tambrahm staple food I am happy to declare.
There was this boy in my class who was also pakka iyervaal, yes the thayir saadham category indeed , with the PATTAI and the RUDRAKSHA KOTTAI literally, no, he did not have the small kudumi though .I am camouflaging him as AMBI just so he doesn’t get pulled by his colleagues. Everyone in class used to call him PAZHAM (fruit), I am not sure why the name, may be associating with the gnyana pazham that our friend lord Ganesha managed to wittily win. Right, it is kinda apt, coming to think of it now. So this AMBI, was too good at studies, awesome Carnatic singer and had his vibhoodhi with a kunguma pottu in the centre of the nethi every day. To be frank, the sight of him gave a positive vibe, “Shantham”, I would term it. He was my competitor in class for the first rank, for the singing competitions and I would envy him for his cool headed wins (I was actually furious that he overtook me then) laughing at myself now for the silly stupid rat races, it was fun nevertheless. I am sure you have met this guy in your life too, not ruling out the bleak possibility that you were one: D .Just a dose of nostalgia for the day, with some strong coffee –Besh Besh!!!!
Have you heard of stumps and bails, no not the real ones – the use Stumps and bails to refer to iyengars and Iyers. I got to know this recently in a discussion at workplace when the FC topic came up and they were like the quota for stumps and bails is meagre. “Which one are you?” they shot at me, I quickly imagined the stumps and bails and pat came the answer “Bails”. R. Ashwin “bails” out the Indian team quite often, now you know why ;).
We are a class apart, be it stumps or bails, and even in my neighbourhood there is respect, they quote “Iyer mama veedu”. The intelligent, helpful, calm group of people are my set of adjectives for Tambrahms and proud to be part of the clan. Speaking of intelligence, Mandais – yes there was this mandai ( to denote brainy) in my class too – not the personification of Tambrahm traits like Ambi , but an extremely clever Brahmin boy who would go places , my math teacher always said (kinda “ enga aatha appove solichu” dialogue in the movie) – of course he has gone places –doing high end research across the ocean. Paattu mami, iyer aathu mama, pattai, jadai, panchakacham, malli poo, maakkolam, appalam,pattu paavadai and the unique terms are endless.
Wherever we go we stand out unique for the very nature of us .Just one more thing and I am off for today. There have been so many changes since the day I was born (late 80’s – yeah about time to turn 30 😦 ) till date and we Tambrahms have also adapted to changes. We wear 9 gajam
(9 yards) and panchakacham when required but also wear formals and stand professional with head held high, cross-band across the chest and make our footprints all over the world in diverse fields. The very nature to learn and follow our religion, traditions and practices while adapting to the outside world and at the same time be open to changes that come our way and appreciate other cultures that surround us is what makes us unique. Irrespective of the pattai and jadai, we are Tambrahm – THE PROUD CLAN!