Under the sun

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thamizhar Thollai

Tamilians must have the dubious distinction of being the one of the most parochial group of people, especially when it comes to using the vernacular in the presence of those who don't understand the language. It may be argued that this happens in every state in India. While that may be true, we easily top the list. I have seen entire conference calls happening in Hindi and in one instance, my team lead in one of the companies i used to work for even started speaking to our British client in Hindi!
However, nothing can beat the utter disdain and nonchalance with which a Tamilian launches into his mother tongue in the presence of others hailing from other states, and even from other countires. Any Tamilian who has the decency and courtesy not to indulge in this will have his/her embarrassment compounded if he/she has lived in the North for sometime. While i vehemently and vocally oppose any condescension shown by others towards Tamils [or anyone for that matter], i bow my head in shame in times like these.


  • I thought it was the other way round!

    By Blogger Me too, at Fri Apr 14, 01:23:00 AM  

  • well, i've been in both places and i'm still to decide which group is the worse offender!

    If you're a Hindi speaker and 26 of the other 27 states use Hindi, its natural to think that the guy around you knows Hindi. So I give greater tolerance to the Hindiwallah. Of course I hate his English accent(Dubbel Aamlet, Kanjoomer, etc)

    So instead of discussing Tams v Northies, why not discuss something that involves Tams v Tams?

    By Anonymous ttm, at Fri Apr 14, 07:39:00 PM  

  • Bala, having said that I am guilty of advocating Tamil b/ween tamils, esp if the outsider is around but still out of earshot :-P

    My justification is I try hard to ensure pure tamil(not anglicized) is spoken and second, I didnt want the rare opportunity of using tamil go by. I never know when the next chance would come :(

    My guilt went away when I saw Latina colleagues speak in espanol among themselves in our presence ;)

    By Anonymous TTM, at Fri Apr 14, 07:46:00 PM  

  • I used to be one of these shrink-under the table and "Mother earth please swallow me" types whenever Tamizh was spoken in a mixed group, But not anymore ! Real life and "*real*" experiences with non-english speaking people from within India and outside India have made me change my position and today I feel there is nothing wrong with the kind of behaviour you observed. We english educated city slickers seem to have internalised lot of unnecessary western notions what makes for correct behaviour.

    Heck, today after listening to Alai Payuthey for the nth time, I felt that TN should be a separate country ;-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 14, 11:44:00 PM  

  • Really. My experience has always been the other way round. When Tamils meet they hardly speak in Tamil in a group and sometimes even among themselves.

    Bongs converse "only" in Bengali, even when it comes to technical things. (Great !)

    Once K__, a Tamil classmate of mine was talking to me in Tamil in the canteen and I was responding in English because there was this UP guy at our table. The UP guy suddenly the UP guys turned to my friendf and in his broken-English said " K__ don't talk in this Madrasi language when I am also here".

    I immediately added: "Yes K____, don't do it. It is as rude and insensitive as when these guys talk in Hindi when we are at the table"

    Unfortunately, as I had made the comment in English, it was completely lost on the intended recepient :-)

    By Anonymous msp, at Sat Apr 15, 12:38:00 PM  

  • Aparna,
    In my experience, we have outdone them in it :)

    "If you're a Hindi speaker and 26 of the other 27 states use Hindi, its natural to think that the guy around you knows Hindi. So I give greater tolerance to the Hindiwallah"

    And about tam-tam speaking Thamizh, i used to come up with a pure Thamizh code
    a) just for kicks
    b) secret code if we were lookin out for a change in work
    .Hence, Infosys became 'Thagaval Thangachi',
    Oracle became 'Thagaval Kalanjiyam' or 'Ora kili'
    TCS = 'Paattan combany' [Tata->Thatha]
    CTS = 'Sa Tha Sa'
    HCL = 'Nadar Kadai' [Shiv Nadar]
    and so on...

    Like i said to Aparna, my experiences have shown me that comparatively we fare worse...

    "Heck, today after listening to Alai Payuthey for the nth time, I felt that TN should be a separate country ;-)"

    100% true, your point about Bongs :)
    LOL @ ur UP friend :)
    Yeah, they think 'Madrasi' is spoken in TN, 'Andhra' is spoen in AP and so on....
    The Indian accent and English competence [especially Northies] warrants a separate post!

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Sat Apr 15, 03:21:00 PM  

  • The secret codes are really funny :))) We used translations for thiruttu activities(like downloading) too.

    Once I was lunching at a Mallu restaurant in North India. If the waiter couldn't understand something, he would say something in Malayalam. My friend wanted to convey he couldnt follow anything. I suggested he say 'malayalam ariyilla' the next time it happened. The waiter came back and my friend promptly spoke out 'Madrasi ariyilla!'

    By Anonymous ttm, at Sun Apr 16, 02:06:00 AM  

  • bala (karthik): Part of the reason you feel the parochialism is because you get to hear a lot since you understand Tamizh. You don't hear the parochial talk of the Northies and others, since they are likely to open up , only when they are amongst their own.

    As for Alai Payuthey bit, I was thoroughly enjoying the beautiful lyrics and was feeling lucky to have Tamizh as a my native language, and then got carried away a bit :-D

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Apr 16, 10:13:00 AM  

  • Hey it happens sometimes! I study in a b school which has equal numbers of northies and southies. The groups that form are usually mixed and have tamizhargal who will crack jokes in tamizh and then translate it fully to the northies who will try hard to laugh, but the joke would have lost its flavor..

    Though I know hindi very well, i refuse to speak it regularly with my hindi colleagues, resorting to english all the time. There is a part of me which still thinks if i speak hindi, the north indians' mastery over the south is complete :D

    By Anonymous tamizhan, at Sun Apr 16, 07:42:00 PM  

  • Bala
    here's something for you, ensoy!

    By Anonymous ttm, at Mon Apr 17, 12:07:00 AM  

  • Sorry try this and listen if link doesnt work

    By Anonymous ttm, at Mon Apr 17, 12:13:00 AM  

  • ttm,
    Rendu link-ume vela seyyale :(

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Fri Apr 21, 05:20:00 PM  

  • TAMIZH..

    join this comm @ orkut

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Apr 24, 12:37:00 PM  

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