Sunday, May 05, 2013

A कहानी of two நகரங்கள்

 “pappa, ye kya ho raha hai?”  shwetha came calling.  “Ei, evlo vaati solliruken, appa nu koopdunu.  Swathi, I have asked you a million times to teach our daughter to address us as Amma, Appa. 

“Ji, dhekho, papa bi koi bura word nahi hai, haaaaauun”
“English please, Swathi”

“Look Saru, she is your daughter too.  Don’t keep blaming me for everything.  Start taking some responsibility.  If you would have done that, she would have started addressing you as ‘appa’ now. It just means that you are not spending enough time with her” – the boomerang had to come back eventually.  Saravanan had not learnt a thing in his 10 years of marriage.    

But this is how it has been over the years for Saru.  It is half Saravanan Meenatchi on Vijay TV and half Saason ki sangam on Star Plus.  Mour Kuzhambu on one day and Mutter Paneer on the other.  Rajnikanth movie a month and Ranbir Kapoor flick the other.

Saravanan was, and is the pachaiyest among all the pachai thamizhans from Madhurai working at Infosys in Chennai.  That is where the intra national collaboration happened.  Swapna was struggling to handle the Macy’s project all by herself and as any dutiful men would do, Saru went way beyond his capacity to help her out to successfully complete the project.  Yes, Swapna was an above average hindi figure.  That makes it the moral responsibility for Saru to work over nights on behalf of her, while she connected with her friends in Lucknow. 

Fast forward 6 months, and boom – Kaadhal happened for Saru and Pyaar, ishq, mohabbat happened for Swapna.  His amma/appa and her papa/mamma also said seri/haan for the wedding. 

“Swathi, I will go get myself a Jibba.  What do you say?”  He wanted to dress up for the Luknow reception.
“What the hell is a Jibba?“ Asked poor Swathi
He had to google a pic of Hrithik Roshan wearing one in Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham
“Are, this is Kurtha.  What did you call it?  Jabbaa?”

Saru – 0 Hindi – 1.  It was just the beginning.

A marriage in two cities was daunting.  More daunting was their inability to manage the usual meet and greets with the guests.  That was the first time they felt out of place and started realizing the scope of what they were getting into starting with the travel.

While Saru had business going to Luknow now, the domestic airline had no business connecting Madurai and Luknow directly.  They had to do 3 stop overs in Chennai, Delhi, Kanpur and finally reach there.

“enna kannu, ponnu nalla mahalakshmi maari irruka.  Nee romba lucky da” – Saru’s Chitti’s greeting had Swathi kept guessing in Madurai reception. 

“Jeethe raho bache.  Aap kabhi ghar aake chai wai peeke chalna, teek hai beta?” – all Saru could do was to keep a wide smile and the 180 degree horizontal head-nod on.  Even if some one would have asked for his house and car at that time, he would have happily agreed with his nod.  

He realized at that point that he should have picked up some hindi by watching Bollywood movies.  The only hindi movie he saw was Rangeela a decade ago, but the purpose there was not to learn hindi.  Damn you distracting Urmila. 

He would keep this nod for the entire reception ceremony at his Pugungtha Veedu. 

Hello Jeeju kaisen hai aap? Swathi’s cousins introduced themselves. 
Illema, enaku joose ellam venam….Sorry, no thank you. I just had juice’u. 

Saru, I told you before. Jiju means brother-in-law.  Stop embarrassing me.  I taught you all these on our flight here.   But Saru’s Hindi ignorance was beyond a 1 hour crash course.

Over the years, when there were situations for him to travel to Luknow by himself, he would carry a piece of paper with the address written in Hindi and would show it to the driver and ask him to “idhar Javooo” pointing finger at the paper.  He would pretend reading a newspaper throughout the ride to avoid the small talk that the Luknow wala might begin.

It was worser than the Vadivelu’s idhar aavoo comedy that he used to watch all the time.  He realized that seeing a Vadivelu on screen getting humiliated was hilarious, but being a vadivelu in Luknow was humiliating, to say the least.

If this was the case with an airport Taxi driver, his experience with street vendors were exponentially worse.  He knew Ek, Dho and Theen and for anything beyond that his number systems would take a severe hit.  Forget about the kilogram weights and ‘assi rupay dhedho bhaiyaa’ types.  All he could do was to carry as many 100 and 500 rupee notes as possible and give the vendors and take back whatever change the vendors were willing to give back.  Dignity preserved!

“papa, aap kahan kho gaye ho aap?” Shwetha woke Saru up from his flashback.  Looking back, it definitely seemed funny and made for great stories down the line.  Now Shwetha bridges the language divide between parents.  A lot is also being communicated through silence after these 10 years.  Cause you know, yeh rishta hai janmo ka! 

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