Posted tagged ‘saroja devi’

My pet peeves

October 31, 2009

Teaching is a funny thing; all idealistic notions and peachy worldviews can crumble when confronted by the raw idiocy of immature 20-year-olds. The world was a leaky urinal yesterday and I was asked to stand in front of it and pee. As relief washed over me after the initial dribbly discomfort, I thought spreading my misery to the rest of the world might be cathartic. What better way than to tell anyone and everyone about the sundry things that annoy me? Here are a few of my favourite least-favourite things (glossary of italicized Tamizh terms at the end):

1. Percentages greater than 100.
Yes, we get it, you want to emphasize that you are expending mind-boggling amounts of effort. Really! I mean stupendous amounts of energy, commitment, integrity and never-say-die-attitude are involved here. But unfortunately, the math skills that you possess that might help convey said urge meaningfully are not commensurate with said commitment, energy, etc. Reason being that you missed that class in elementary school where Ms. Meenakshi had taught percentages and the star pupil (was it Mottai?) who usually bailed you out had do-vittufied you because  you stole his balpam and wrote ‘I love you’ notes to the evil girls. In the interest of the welfare of our already confused kids, let’s keep it real, 100% real.

2. Honorary Doctorates and epithets like ‘nadamadum paralumanram’.
Is this only a Tamizh epidemic or does this kind of awesomeness exist in other parts of our glorious desh? Even things that are normally associated with the gentler sex like thenral are used for supposedly macho Tamizh-veerar types. Particularly interesting are non-Tamizh epithets like ‘Captain (in English)’ for people projecting intense mara-Tamizhar feelings.

3. People saying ‘noocular’ for nuclear.
Oh, come on moron, you can definitely say ‘new’ and ‘clear’ as separate words, so what’s the problem in putting the two together? Which part of your ass did noocular come from? No, don’t answer it, it’s a rhetorical question.

4. Filling out forms in quadruplicate.
When faced with this, I make like Saroja Devi in that movie where she has just got her vision restored by charming doctor with pencil moustache (you remember, right? The one that almost climaxes in his pants while saying ‘Abhithakuchalambal, oh what a booytiful name’). Blinking my eyes so rapidly that fruit bats take uncalled-for left turns, I say: ‘Naan enda kaalathuley irukken? aen mister, onakku ‘technology’nu onnu irukkunu theriyada? Stoopit!’

5. People pretending to still not get the concept of eclipses and seeking divine intervention.
Umm, this stumps me. I am done with this witness, Your Honour.

6. Athletes (mostly US) using the word ‘adversity’.
Dude, Lost Boys of Sudan trekking thousands of miles through Africa to reach safety, now that’s adversity. Trailing by 2 points in a regular season NBA game with 10 seconds to go, hmm, not so much.

7. People praising the Lord after a good performance.
It could be a century, a touchdown, or a good tillana. Every time any of these happens, the happy performer starts thanking God immediately and profusely.  Kissing ground, air, or pendant is common.  Crossing oneself into knots is known to happen.  As these events unfold, the Lord pauses on his chillum and says to his peeps: ‘Who the fuck in Memberships signed up to save assholes like this one? I had to help this overpaid Adonis get that one meaningless run in a T20 match before I stopped that child rapist?  Shit, who came up with that list of priorities?’

8. Movie re-re-re-…-productions:
B(T,K)ollywood routinely introduces Hollywood movies to desi fans. Kamal Haasan, perhaps, can be called the driving force behind the breathtaking copy-exactness that is seen in this enterprise today. One can witness his work in several masterpieces: Nayagan (Godfather), Avvai Shanmugi (Mrs. Doubtfire), Tenali (What about Bob?), Magalir Mattum (9 to 5), to name a few. Fans of these (con) artists claim that they have done a phenomenal job ‘Indianizing’ it, which will be fine and dandy if they choose to give credit to the original non-Indian version.
My favourite, though, is the more insidious statement, usually by the perpetrators themselves, that they have been ‘inspired’ by it, which makes the blatant plagiarism okay. Before getting all wound up, people not comfortable with this inspiration movement must note that there is also hierarchical inspiration a.k.a. artistic clusterfuck. For example, Surya (or the director) was so inspired by ‘Memento’ that he inspired (as in inhaled) the gist of it to inspirationally star in a monumentally more inspirational masterpiece called ‘Ghajini’. This inspired the hitherto uninspired Aamir Khan so much that he immediately went into an extended Surya-namaskar for a few months. What emerged was the fantastically inspirational movie called … wait for it …  ‘Ghajini’! Gee, I wonder who is getting the passed parcel next. Ooh, (accompanied by frenetic rubbing of hands) pray tell me, who will be the next inspiree?  I can scarcely hold my inspiration!  How many more such inspirations will I be able to witness before my expiration? As my imaginary Chinese friend might say, may we all live in such inspirational times!

And, saving the most infuriating for last
9.  Nighties as formal wear:
I had to rub my eyes a few times when I started seeing this around town. Used to be that maamis stepped outside their homes to get chinna vengayam from vaadikai vegetable seller’s cart and the nightie helped avoid a dress-change prior to the shower. Perfectly understandable in the Chennai heat. I guess the cart must have stopped coming or something, so Mohammed had to go to the mountain, so to speak, at the end of the street. Soon, the kazhudai thenjufied and became the kattai-erumbu it is today. Little did we know then that this seemingly harmless wardrobe malfunction would shake the hot couture of Chennai. Yesterday, I saw an elegant maami in Saidapet at 8 a.m. walking on the street clad in pretty sandals with a nice handbag and sunglasses, but in a FUCKING NIGHTIE! What the hell? What would make someone think this is appropriate to wear outside? The sad thing is that I have seen other variants that make you want to cover your kids’ eyes immediately.

a. Nightie with a dupatta for the karpukkarasi.
Yes, the real problem with the nightie is not that it is a grotesquery, but that it shows off the voluptuous, sin-inducing two inches between your neck and the top button to unassuming and grossly unprepared strangers. For their protection, it is best to cover up the offending part of the anatomy with a mismatched rag from yesteryear.

b. Nightie with a towel for the karpukkarasi in a hurry.
This is rare, but I have had the misfortune of witnessing this once. Psychologists tell me that this is as traumatic as catching one’s parents in a compromising situation. Aah, perhaps a shower in concentrated sulphuric acid might help cleanse.

There you have it, some of deshvaasi’s pet peeves in black and white.  Now it’s your turn.

GLOSSARY (at the risk of losing stuff in translation)

1. Mottai: Literally means one with a shaved head: a common nickname for almost every (Hindu?) boy in Chennai for socio-religious reasons.
2. do-vittufy: Tamizh schoolyard slang for ‘on the outs with’.  Usually conveyed with a nose-twist and index-finger-middle-finger intertwine
3. balpam: old-style chalk used on a slate-board in elementary school (I am dating myself by saying I have used this)
4. nadamadum paralumanram:
literally, walking parliament.  Yeah, seriously!
5. thenral: cool breeze, there is a dude who is called ‘Tamizh thenral’.  Wish I could make up stuff like this.
6. veerar: warrior, brave dude, something like that
7. mara-Tamizhar: hardcore Tamizh dude
8. tillana: a rhythmic piece sung in Carnatic (south Indian classical) music that is commonly used in Bharathanatyam (south Indian classical dance) concerts.
9. ‘Naan enda kaalathuley irukken? aen mister, onakku ‘technology’nu onnu irukkunu theriyada? Stoopit!’: Have I been transported back in time? Why the heck can’t you use technology, you son of a thousand hamsters?
10. chillum: ganja pipe, I am told.
11. maami: of the female kind (generally), mental age between that of girl and grandma
12. chinna vengayam: pearl onions
13. vaadikai: customary, usual
14. kazhuthai thenju kattai-erumbu: a turn of phrase indicating gradual but substantial decline (literally, a donkey wearing down to an ant)
15. dupatta: scarf-like thingy originally worn with salwar-kameez, but has since started to freelance as large handkerchief, tourniquet, and mother-in-law strangler.
16. karpukkarasi: literally, queen of virtue.