The Sunset

I was driving back home last evening and suddenly spotted an orange ball in my side mirror. Mesmerised, I turned and saw a spectacular sunset. One I’d have so easily missed…

“Look!”, I pointed to my son.

“Isn’t the sun just beautiful?” I gushed.

“Amma!” he rolled his eyes.

“Sun is Surya. And Surya is a boy. How can you call a boy beautiful?” he chided. “Boys are smart and not beautiful, okay? So never ever call the sun beautiful anymore, okay?”

So people, I stand corrected.

I saw a spectacularly’ smart’ sun, setting in the sky last evening!

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Naan Avanillai!

I can spot a non-resident tambrahm (born & brought up in a distant state), miles away. Their Tamil is so pure, without any local flavour.

But it took me awhile to recognise this one. He was the receptionist in a hospital, where I waited patiently with a patient for our turn to see the doctor.

He was very helpful to us when he saw the patient with me was still a bit weak and recovering. He assisted us in all possible ways, directed us to the canteen for lunch and insisted we don’t wait around on empty stomachs and promised not to call our numbers while we were at lunch.

He spoke only in English which did not betray  his regionality. Since I didn’t spot any different accent, I just assumed he was a hard-core Madarasi like me.

We got back from lunch and flopped into the waiting room chairs, far away from him. There were about  30 to 40 people in the room, either swatting flies or trying not to fall asleep while waiting for the doctor.

I tried reading a book, but I was nodding off after the lunch.

“M’am!” His voice broke into my reverie.

I looked up.

He was indeed calling me. Frantically.

“M’am! Doctor vandhuttaan! Ullethaan Ukkandrikkan. Wait panraan… Seekrama pongo!”

To this day I have no idea how I went through the motions of  taking my companion inside, consulted the doctor and came back home without collapsing on the waiting room floor, laughing!

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PS: It is very difficult for me to translate this for those who don’t know Tamil or the intricacies of the language. I’ll give it my best effort. But let me warn you,  it may just about go above your head.

In Tamil ‘he’ can be translated as ‘avar‘ or ‘avan‘. The former is for someone older to you or someone who commands respect. The latter is either someone younger or someone who really doesn’t deserve any respect.

We tambrahms use ‘avan‘ pretty liberally. We use it on anyone who’s outside the immediate circle of family & friends. It could be a politician, actor, sportsman or a even friend of a friend. But we don’t use this in public so we don’t offend the other tamils’ sensibilities. This receptionist, in all his innocence did not know the difference. Hence he called the Doctor – the presiding deity of the room, whose presence was patiently awaited by 40 patients and in all probabilities was providing him with his bread and butter – avan.