Silent TamBrahms and other amit_123 myths


Being in a relatively quiet place where the police diary reads like “Resident reported suspicious person. Officer found suspicion unfounded” or “Caller reported loud music. Officer advised residents to keep it down”…. no, hang on, that has nothing to do with what I was going to say.

Being in a place where there is considerable excitement on Dan Brown’s latest, Chetan Bhagat’s latest goes rather unnoticed. Thankfully, I read Kosu’s post on it, and apparently it’s about TamBrahm girl marrying Punju guy and the culture clashes that ensue.

Yeah, whatever, it’s Chetan Bhagat.

But I couldn’t really ignore it. Because one of the culture clashes is that the guy is used to a boisterous lunch table, while it is deathly quiet in the girl’s house at mealtimes.

Mr. Bhagat hopes to impress upon the reader about the clash between the boisterous culture of the Northwest of India and the mild, quiet, disciplined nature of folks from the Southeast.

Uh? Silent TamBrahms? Mr. Bhagat, you haven’t met me, or had lunch with my largelySouthIndian gang whose bantering resounds through the cafeteria. Heck, you haven’t even met my Appa’s Perima who manages to singlehandedly talk to us about absolutely nothing for fortyfive minutes on STD, and still give us something to laugh about. Or my Peripa who feels like his audio is on fastforward. Or my numerous cousins coming over for a Sunday evening. Or my Iyengar neighbor’s sister dropping by. Or attended my Akka’s wedding. Or.. hell, walked around my neighborhood in Irvine where the loudest voices come from the resident Tams. Oh hell, have you ever gone into a restaurant in Thanjavur? Or the streets of Kumbakonam? Or any damn meal at any Tambrahm household where folks will routinely dissect the ‘kirket’ scene, the impending nuclear war, relevance of Gandhi in today’s world, the latest movies, all at 4x volume and 8x speed.

You haven’t gone to some random tourist spot in Britain where all of a sudden the quiet atmosphere was broken by excited shrieks from the children, loud words of caution from the mother, grandmother, father, and lots of laughing at blade jokes by the rest. You haven’t ever been around in that intermediate period between breakfast and lunch at Arvind Anna’s wedding where all the oldies get together to put blade – offer commentary while reading The Hindu, Indian Express, Deccan Herald, Asian Age, Vijay Times and god alone knows which other magazine.

You haven’t even done basic research… talk to any Pankaja aunty on the streets of Bangalore and she will tell you about how she has no peace ever since some rather loud Kongas moved next door. She’ll delight you with details of how the mother shouts for the son, shouts at the son, and how everyone expresses their joys and sorrows at max volume.

I don’t know about the loudness, or the relative loudness of Pnjaabi folk, but all the Pnjaabis I’ve come across have been soft-spoken, and I have never in real life witnessed spontaneous Balle Balles or Shava Shavas, or any of the loudness Bollywood so loves portraying. I do know, however, that the most talkative people I’ve known are all TamBrahms.

This is just another of those playing-to-the-gallery acts that Mr. Bhagat is so known for…Β  taking some popular perception and playing it up to a high level… hell, IITians and NITians have a richer extra-curricular life than most of the rest, and still Bhagat dares to say in his first novel that IITians have no life. Similarly this one about silent TamBrahms.

Or maybe, maybe Mr. Bhagat should talk to both my northIndian roommates, one from NITK and another from gradschool, both of who are quiet as mice, and both of who took time adjusting to ze TamBrahm volume, speed of speech, and sense of humour. Or maybe to Prof. Welling, who is Dutch and who finds it easier to understand what one Mr. Amanpreet Singh says better than what I say… and routinely asks me to repeat myself and speak more slowly.

And… tailpiece: Ambujam maami‘s excited voice resounded in the neighborhood for forty-five minutes. When she stepped out of her house looking pleasantly happy, Pankaja aunty accosted her. “I was talking to my niece. She’s in New York!”, Ambujam maami said, excited. “Oh, long distance call”, Pankaja aunty observed. “Next time, Ambujam,”, she said, “Use a telephone”.

PS: I seem to have totally forgotten the tenet of ‘Show, don’t tell’ in this post. It reads really amateurish thanks to that. But no time. Code needs to be written. Do comment, though.

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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22 Responses to Silent TamBrahms and other amit_123 myths

  1. Nisha says:

    He He …so true! My northie roommate got freaked out when I took her to the first show of Kandasamy here in Delaware ,by the sheer excitement and enthusiasm of the Tam junta in getting to watch it before it gets screened in India.I could so relate to what you meant by the TamBrahm volume, speed of speech, and sense of humour.

    ..and yeah I can relate lesser and lesser to Chetan Bhagat’s novels.

  2. Malaveeka says:

    My dad’s side of the family used to quiet. Like no talks at lunch kind of thing. My mother’s side more than made up for it.

  3. Malaveeka says:

    be terribly*

  4. Hey. . I can relate to this. . The tams i know are noisy and fun to be with and do they talk loud!! and I somehow don like the Chetan Bhagat’s novels , too filmy. . hey gal saw ur blog post in Bang Mirror today in blogtalk section . . Kudos gal! πŸ™‚

  5. Nothing succeeds like success, what ever everyone says about Chetan Bhagat writing crap, filmi stuff, the fact is he is a best selling writer and an upcoming script writer. Readers look forward to reading his next novel. His style and language is such everyone can understand, one doesn’t need to have extra ordinary vocabulary/intelligence to understand his novels and in a way he tries to connect to the masses. For sure he is successful in doing so.
    I have yet to read his latest book, after reading the review comments here i am looking forward to reading it

  6. Varun says:

    Chetan Bhagat should be lined up against a wall and verbally assaulted by podadei types!
    but girl, lauding tam skills in digg land is unacceptable! you better start writinng something in “our” favour, else VaataL Paksha will be in action, soon!

  7. Kaushik says:

    I mean, Chetan Bhagat’oda books’a padikkardhe, enna porutha varaikkum, is exclusively for the amit-types only. Haven’t read, but saw that nonsense movie “Hello” and though the movie was especially bad, the story was filmy enough to understand what kind of writer this bloke is. You shouldn’t really take him seriously, yenna ketta.

  8. cram says:

    so you think tambrahms are loud? cross the walayar checkpost and head to any of palakkad’s 96 agraharams.

    now you know what loud is!

    • wanderlust says:

      palakkad iyer is subset of tambrahm only, no? i count among my numerous relatives a good number of the palakkad subspecies. they however are of the same level of loudness as the rest.

  9. cram says:

    another amit myth (should that be amyth) about tambrahms is that we are all saintly, studious, strictly veg types. while there are many who fit that stereotype, there are many more who just don’t. and that always surprises the amits.

  10. ajit says:

    your post on bangalore mirror was wonderful

  11. Nova says:

    The book is a totally Ameteurish attempt! He is just trying really had to sell his novel by adding as much masala as he cud to it… I have known North Indians getting totally bugged by the South Indians’ constant chatter and he seemed to have missed out on that point totally…!!

  12. I have read so many articles or reviews concerning the blogger lovers except this article is in fact a pleasant post, keep
    it up.

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