Me Thinks

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Some relatives of mine, for some reason, have always thought of me as "Peter" or "range-u". (For non-madrasis, peter is someone who speaks in English and range roughly translates to "hep") But anybody who has known me reasonably well would swear by my local-ness. I am as "local" as it gets. Wonder why some people have this opinion. Maybe because I went to a peter college in M'ras or maybe I used words like elevator, frisbee or Carribean cruise while talking in tamil, I don't know. Probably these relatives tell their relatives about me and these non-relatives tell theirs. Obviously, the last person in this chain doesn't hear anything good about me. Otherwise, why would they talk about me in the first place. All of what I've said is just my guess. Its possible no one talks about me and I am just assuming/showing a little self-importance. Now I digress. Let me get back on track. Why am I suddenly talking about peter-ness? This is why.

I established contacts with a non-relative a few weeks ago. (Non-relative = family friend or friend's 2nd cousin or cousin's nephew's cousin or anybody) I am generally very enthusiastic about inviting people over for lunch or dinner or at least a cup of chai. What are the chances of someone coming over for food and saying you are a bad cook? You invariably hear "Food is awesome". (Cheap me, I know) And I feel proud about my culinary skills. So I was trying to invite this girl home. I was on the phone giving directions etc. For every question I ask in tamil, I get an answer in english. She even said " I am exhilarated to meet you". Does anyone say that? I gave her benefit of doubt. She is probably used to speaking to people in english all the time.

Once the guests arrived, we were chatting. And again it was mostly english. More specifically, if I ask any question, the answer was always in English. I heard things like "I was admonished about the bad weather". I started to feel a little weird. I wondered "Is this person trying to impress me with GRE english or does she talk like this even under normal circumstances?" I was hoping, someone would call her on the cellphone, so I could see how she talks to her friends. Just as I had hoped, someone called and the conversation was in english and then she politely excused herself and went to a corner and spoke. Our place is not too big nor is it sound-proofed and I could hear full local tamil. OMG, what a peter act - I thought. Or maybe she thinks I am a peter and acts like this in front of me.

During the rest of her stay, I tried my level best to make her feel comfortable so she'd talk in that "local" tamil to me but my efforts failed. I kind of felt bad that she didn't feel comfortable enough. Well, at least she said I was a good cook and asked for a few recipes. Mission Accomplished.:-)


Blogger The Talkative Man said...

ROTFL :)) Can empathise with that. I didnt grow up learning tamil either and was harassed by tamil nazis all the time("ivanukku thamizh paththi onnum theriyathu" -School-la tamil teachera English-la wish panni-na thittudhu, friendsoda tamil-la pesina Class teacher moraikudhu, pakkathla ellaarum mallu/northie, enga poi muttikaradhu???), this was far from the truth as whenever I went to a non-urban setting or interacted with local folks like the shopkeeper, electrician, plumber, mason I got on as comfortably as any and habitually loved the back-benches in class, so I was very much part of the bourgeoise! Part of my reluctance was also coz I thought my tam pronunciation was not the most perfect of all. The more the nazis stereotyped me, the more I pissed them off by becoming the person they thought I was.

Of course, it was a different story once I left their tentacles, and now I would rate really high on the tamil-indexometer..what the stupid tamil nazi perisus must learn is that given space and time, those who lacked the tamil environs will gradually learn to love and cherish their culture, in fact completely surpass the overbearing perisus when it comes to appreciating 'tamilness'.

Yeah, we opted for other languages, loved Milton, Wordsworth, Wodehouse, Blyton, The Hindu, Disney, Rafi, RD Burman - phir bhi dil hai tamil(we also love Bharathi, Kannadasan, Papaiya, cricket, Pallanguzhi...we dont crave for pizza, NFL,Euro League, Formula 1, Snickers like the stupid grandkids you now pamper), so buzz off you first-rate rascals! :)

12:54 PM  
Blogger Swamy Srinivasan aka Kittu Mama said...

semmaya solli irukeenga peter maa :)

naanum chennai daan. peter vaarthaiya sooberu. adhula post naa kaekanumaa...

your presentation is very good.

1:03 PM  
Blogger The Talkative Man said...

The other essential index of "Tamilness" is your skills at gossip/kisu-kisu: Talking about Cinema/Arasiyal(life-giving forces of every tam) is the litmus test. Even if you cant spell Nakkeeran, just read some India Today/Outlook to pick a village and say concernedly, "Andipatti(or Sathankulam) thogudhi thaan romba critical-nu solraanga", the perisu will feel re-assured.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Me too said...

I had really put on this 'peter' get-up during my first year college days and by the end of college, even my genuine non-tamil speaking northie friend became very fluent in Tamil!! :)

Now, in Chennai, in those coffee shops and pizza places, they give funny looks if you order in Tamil!!

1:24 PM  
Blogger Me said...

...ippadi polambarathuku badhila nan solra maadhri kelunga orey grass itchingsaaa irukum.....

...enna unga veetuku koopidunga...nalla madras thamizh pesaren...neenga samachi podradha pathi perumaya oru blog post podren....unga tea ya kudichitu....aha idhu maadhri oru tea nan vazhkayala kudichadhey illa nu poi chi unmaya solran....

1:43 PM  
Blogger rads said...

haha, I recently heard about this 'peter'!
Poor you, you shud've just asked her rt out - "tamil varada? aww, poor you! "

2:59 PM  
Blogger APAM NAPAT said...

give her ur blog name. She will talk to u in Madras bashai

5:12 PM  
Blogger Ajay said...

hilarious...esp 'exhilarated' and 'admonish'...
u know in some slang a 'peter' (for women) is called 'mary'...but i guess 'peter' is kinda 'guys'....

7:59 PM  
Blogger Ananya S P said...

I guess we gals (yes Deeps...we are still gals :)...)were called 'peter' or 'mary' at some point by the guys. Naan en friendsoda pesa aaramchaaley "dho paaruda...peter thodangittaa" nnu solla aarambichuduvaanga! Moreover my school AV is in Peters Road so there were explicit remarks/teasing about that too...

You should have told the gal..."Ennamaa kannu! Tamil varaadha?" (Tamil should be uttered in Gabtun Style :p)

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lol.. super deepz. ellam seri .namma college "peter" college a? college paer-ai velila solladha. adi vizhum.

One of our relatives used to talk to my akka and I in peter only. My akka anbu ammani's reason: because we had 'baaf' (bob) cut. With this lady around, it was very funny.If my mum were to ask her something about her kids she would say "aammam maami (kids)romba paduthaara.." and would turn towards us to say "they are very naatti you know, YA..yes YA.. no Ya" aagggh!

But itees aalways phunny to have such peoples around.. what say?

6:11 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

been there(someyears back)... but iam was shameless to ask the guest that why she was talking in english? answer:she said "Perception Matters".

done that - now after living outside india for couple years, this time I went home for vacation - for the first week i ended-up talking english with dad, which i never used to do in my life. i felt, i was petering.. may be it was more like habit then after a week with couple tamil movies..iam back to being chennaiite (which iam super proud of)

whatz in language? its only to communicate even with wrong spellings, tamilish, hindish, whatever doesnt matter as long as other person can understsnd.. but we(indians specially in TN) do give tooo much of importants to "english"...

7:47 AM  
Blogger Inder said...

i think it is all about how comfortable we are with the language we use and the comfort level of the listener to understand the language we speak. the ultimate aim is to communicate.

i too have come across people who use bizarre words in their speeches and mails. they are really funny :D

10:07 AM  
Blogger I said...

english is like kannadi, use it only if u have to. thamizh is like eyes. Inhdi is like...useless.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot believe someone actually said "I was admonished by the weather". What does that mean really ? IMHO, it is a terrible usage of the English language.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Oracle said...

well there is this notion of Tamilians speaking in English with strangers (meaning this is strictly official, nothing personal about it) and in Tamil with friends..Maybe your friend(or acquaintance) was this grade! Yenna Seriya?

3:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deeps, nee un post a "Peter" nu potturukka koodadhu that is "Peetru"

1:08 AM  
Blogger D LordLabak said...

TTM, its like someone said "Porutthadhu podhum pongi ezhu". I couldnt stop laughing after reading the last few lines of your comment.
Thank you Kittu.
MT, tamil in teh real sense doesn't exist anymore in cities at least. Try calling a conductor nadatthunar.
Me, you are most welcome. More welcome than usual if you are going to blog about my cooking.;-)
rads, if only I am the type that has some guts.;-)
rajesh, just realised my blog name is also slightly peter-ish what with "lord" in the front.;-)
Thats true Ajay.
Anusha, schoolum peter road um peter. (rings a bell?);-)
LOL bubby, "baaf" is my favourite, followed by "flatform" and "liftick".;-)
Yuva, peter has been in all along. Its not just a recent phenomenon.
Inder, I dont wanna get too judgmental about the words. But replying in english did it for me.;-)
I, nee thirundha maattiya?
Tell me about it Sam.
You're probably right Oracle.
MMM, as usual kalakkal.;-)

4:24 PM  
Blogger The Visitor said...

pirarkku inna murpagal cheyyin - thammakku
inna pirpagal thaame varum...

he he he

PS: I wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I was incarcerated in a deaddiction camp and am now a rehabilitated Visitor :)

But still I couldn't help looking at your past posts. I have flouted one of the cardinal rules they mentioned at the camp - never visit a site taht calls itself "Me Thinks".

3:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home