Under the sun

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I'm not a TAMil

One of my cousins got married recently. Since i generally don't like to attend weddings and more so if there's nobody in my age to give me company, my folks had to literally drag me on. After seeing my cousin and his wife stand with a constant smile on their faces with a sense of pity [not at his post-marital plight but i hate the idea of making the couple sit/stand before a never ending procession of people, giving the same answers to the same questions with the same expression on their faces], i wished the couple and gave my gift and settled in the back row to watch the cine music concert by Shankar Mahadevan and Mahalaxmi. SM did a great rendition of his own hit "Breathless" and a few Hindi film hits. He did a very good job of improvizing ARR's smash hit "Take it easy Urvasi". He interacted with the audience to get their feel and feedback. He said he would be doing Hindi and Tamil film numbers and polled the audience if they would like to listen to Tamil songs. Appalingly, only a very few [about 20%] answered in the affirmative. The bride's family had settled in Dubai many years back and looking at the family members, there was not a single attribute of Tamil identity. A good number of people in the audience were almost embarrassed with the Tamil tag being associated with them. I've found this to be very pronounced with the Tamil Brahmin community in Mumbai. Generally, this trait can be found amongst Brahmins albeit not being exclusive to them alone - the trait of assuming a superior liking and relation towards a pan-Hindi or anglicized culture. While it is normal and natural for people to adopt the culture of the place they live in, finding this in Chennai was a bit strange. For every individual, the mother tongue gives him/her the first kind of identity, followed by the culture he/she lives in. Every other notion of identity like religion and nation, comes after these two and they are not natural like the former, but imposed upon. That said, pragmatically, unnatural identities like nationality do serve useful purposes and might also be necessary. The balance between the two is delicate indeed.
After a while, discarding these reflections which don't serve any practical purpose, i proceeded to the more important task of preying upon the spread of Arusuvai Natrajan's dinner.....

P.S: A few months back in my work place, we received an EMail informing that we could come dressed in ethnic-wear on the eve of Deepavali (i think). It carried the note that veshti's were not allowed!


  • >>It carried the note that veshti's were not allowed!

    I totally would've signed that note too. Not because I don't like veshti's, but because I don't like the sight of hairy man legs (and then some) peeking out from carelessly tied veshtis. :))

    By Anonymous Manoj, at Thu Dec 15, 11:45:00 PM  

  • "I've found this to be very pronounced with the Tamil Brahmin community in Mumbai" - Totally agree! 'Madras-a? Acha-acha!!'. I have never felt so out-of-place than as a new Madrasi in the South Indian(!!) educational establishments in B'bay!

    By Blogger Me too, at Fri Dec 16, 03:24:00 AM  

  • its not just restricted to TFM, even tamil movies. most ppl would watch movies like anniyan (the so called good ones) but would shun ones which arent so good. but these same ppl would watch every single hindi movie released.

    By Blogger ada-paavi!!!!, at Fri Dec 16, 07:19:00 AM  

  • In the 4 years outside India, I find atleast 50% of the people who are from Tamilnadu refuse to speak Tamizh. I should be least worried about people born and brought up in a different location then.


    By Blogger narayanan, at Fri Dec 16, 09:55:00 AM  

  • manoj,
    LOL :)

    Had been to a wedding(!) of a relative when i was in Mumbai, and it could have been a Gujarati wedding, for all i know - from food to the dress worn by the couple.


    Aren't Sri Lankan Tamils an exception to this?

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Fri Dec 16, 02:35:00 PM  

  • mella tamizh ini saagum
    antha melai mozhigal puvi misai Ongum... - BHARATHI...

    Today the younger generations are not studying tamizh. (encouraged by their parents???) Tamizhukku azhivu Dravidan parties kalathilaiye arambithuvittathu.

    Moreover R.Doss and T'valavan ponravargalin pagal veshathal, tamizh migavum kavalaikidamagathan ullathu.

    I think we must learn from Srilankan Tamilians who are studying tamizh as their main subject from primary to high school.

    By Blogger cellvi, at Fri Dec 16, 05:31:00 PM  

  • cellvi,
    "(encouraged by their parents???) "
    True in many cases. Many parents feel proud if their children converse with them in English. Nothing wrong, but should it come at the cost of the mother tongue?

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Sat Dec 17, 01:05:00 PM  

  • Soonpaans,
    There is nothing outrageously wrong with assuming a non-tamil outlook given the circumstances. There are so many tambrams living in areas like Dehra Dun, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Indore where no other tamil community would even set foot in. When there is no one to speak your language, where is the motivation? (As such, they were given a subtle message to move out)Plus there is a such yawning gap in culture between south and north, so that once one goes out of TN, the need to assimilate the adopted culture assumes vast proportions.

    About the Sri Lankan tamils, it's a completely different issue and should not be looked at from the Indian perspective - it is vastly different. The average Sri Lankan tamil(AST) is complete constrast to the average TN tamil(ATT), who often bears a supreme indifference to the tamil language. ASTs by nature are taught to take pride in the legacy of the Cholas who first brought them to Ceylon in the 11-12th century. Quite a good number of them are taught to take interest in the ancient tamil epics such as the Puranaanooru. Since 1956, when the Sinhala government took up a unitary outlook, the ASTs have developed a good grounding in their language and culture as a means of keeping alive their ethnic preferences. In fact, the mayor(a tamil) of Jaffna was shot in 1975 by Prabhakaran as it was felt he did nothing to prevent the police firing during the World Tamil Conference held a few months earlier. Much of the emphasis on Tamil among the second-generation immigrants is to keep feelings of nationalism alive - the current tamil population in Sri Lanka is only 2/3 of what it was in 1983 and the threat of the second generation embracing the adopted culture is very much real.

    By Blogger The Talkative Man, at Sat Dec 17, 01:37:00 PM  

  • PS: ASTs also place emphasis on the Dravidian legacy - it should be noted that the term "Dravidian" in the AST's context has strictly cultural underpinnings while in the ATT's context has a political connection.

    By Blogger The Talkative Man, at Sat Dec 17, 01:40:00 PM  

  • *,
    "When there is no one to speak your language, where is the motivation"
    That's what i meant when i said this:
    "While it is normal and natural for people to adopt the culture of the place they live in"

    As for your other comments, i totally agree

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Mon Dec 19, 06:06:00 PM  

  • There was a guy who was interviewed by a great MNC for a high paying prominent position.

    After clearing technical rounds; in HR round he was surprised when he was asked questions in Tamil by the interviewer who happened to be a NRI Tamil.

    He replied answers in anglicized (with style) Tamil though he was born and brought up in Chennai and he was immediately rejected. When he demanded explanation for rejection, the authorities told him that he lacked self-esteem, self-confidence, personal integrity, and pride.

    Japanese and Europeans are respected till now because of economic development which was caused by the self-respect they have.

    Can we learn some of these also from the japanese?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Dec 26, 09:34:00 AM  

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