Saturday, February 25, 2006

Pangunip pongal – The games

I hear a loud voice outside, laughing and saying something. I run out to see what it is. It is Easvaran chiththappa. He is all soaked in oil and water. Thank God it is not his new clothes. He is laughing very proudly. Looks like he has won some game. Maattukkaara pattaiya is shouting and he too looks like is coming from the main street where all the games are being held. "Eh, eh, look what your son has done? He climbed up that oily stick, looks he is all soaked in oil, look at his clothes. Paataiyaa is complaining to paatti. “So what, my son has won something”. She is all proud. “I have not spoiled new clothes, look, I am still in old clothes”. Chiththappa is trying to save himself from some of his father’s anger. “It is not the clothes, you stupid, what happens if you fall and break your bones? Who is going to plough the field then?” “Look at this man, he is all worried about his field all the time. My son is not for your field works. What is wrong if he goes and enjoys some? He has won the game”. She picks up fighting. “I am not saying it for the sake of our field. I am worried about him. What if he fell from the stick and broke few bones?” “What did you think of my son? I have fed him well. He knows how to climb. Hasn’t he proved. He has won”. "It was oily stick for godsake. Oil spilling from the top all the time, for every little shake. Anyone can fall because it is slippery. It is not about your food or about his talents. Oil doesn’t pay attention to you, do you know that?” Pattaiyaa goes annoyed. Patti and chithappa have long gone inside their house. Ah, there comes Ganesa chiththappa, soaked in oil again. “What did you do? Only one can get that money in the cloth tied to the oily stick, Easvaran has got it, so, how come you are oily and showing all teeth? What, you have “money in cloth” too. Where did you get this?” Pattaiya asks his eldest, annoyed of the fact that his most responsible son has gone crazy too. “Did you not go to the other area where they make you blind, and you have to hit the oil and water filled pot tied at the centre and if you are successful, you get the money in cloth kept in the pot? I have won that” Ganesa chithappa replies, showing all his teeth. "What is wrong with you people. What happens if you had hit someone else?” He goes worried and shouting again, chiththappa has long gone inside his house. I can hear paatti’s voice going screaming and laughing out of pride and happiness. I am not allowed to go to watch these games. They say that I might get hurt. But no one could stop Senthil. Look, Easvaran chithathappa is out again. In his new clothes this time. “Where is Senthil?” Pattaiya is coming out as well, following chiththappa. “Where are you going again? Why do you want Senthil? Do not spoil him as well.” “Where is Senthil”? Chiththappa asks me. “I don’t know”. “You donot know anything about your brother? “What kind of elder sister are you? Don’t you have to be responsible and keep an eye on him, particularly these days when there is so much crowd in town, so many things are happening, what happens if he gets hurt”. This time, it is me for Pattaiya. “Why are you sitting at home on a thiruvila day? Come with me”, "What, are you determined to spoil somebody or the other, that too trying to spoil a girl child? Go away". Pattaiya shouts at him.. I run to hold chithappa’s hands. He takes me with him to the streets…

People, people people everywhere. Noise noise noise everwhere. Songs coming from loudspeakers are not decipherable. Few games are being conducted. Those men who are conducting games are announcing, moderating, instructing, entertaining using loudspeakers. They are not decipherable either. I hold chithathappa’s hands tightly, thinking that, that is what chiththappa told me, as I cannot really understand what he is saying, even though he is screaming in high pitch and telling me something. I just look at him and nod my head, to let him know that I heard him. He says it again.. He gave up.

I cannot see the game or follow what is going on there, really. It is only chiththappa’s hand, few people’s backs and few other people’s hips I can see. They all smell new clothe’ or, oily smell or even crushed flowers smell, chrysanthemum and jasmine mixed smell… can’t tell clearly. Above my head, through people's head, I get s glimpse of colour papers and mango leaves all tied in ropes, hung above, across the street. I don’t know what senthil is doing in this crowd. What possibly can he enjoy in these streets, what can he see here, other than people’s backs and hips. He is shorter than me, he can only see legs. Still I don’t want to go home. There is this another kid playing peepee inside my ears. What, are you nuts? I have gone deaf. I want to shout at him. He laughs. He gives me a peepee. I smile and play at him. I look around. He is not with his parents, or may be they are here, he is just not holding their hands. He shows me his watch-mittai. A flexible candy strip made in the shape of a wrist watch and tied around his wrist. “Do you want”. “Yes”. “Come with me”. “I don’t have money”. “Ask your parents”. “Chiththappa, I want watch-mittai”. “What”? He can’t hear me. I show him my wrist and play some sign language. He seems to understand. He gives me money. “Dey Muruga, get her some watch mittai and bring her back here, ok?” He sends me with my new friend. We run to get watch mittai. Mittaikkarar (the candy man, who sells candys) is selling few types of mittais. This flexible strip is one, using which you can get a wrist watch, or a train too. He always gives an extra kannaththuppottu mittai(a little bindi on cheek) to girls. He also sells panju mittai. I buy a panju mittai and a watch mittai.

We came back home very tired. Senthil came back as well. He looked very tired too. I wanted to ask him where did he go and what did he see. But I was too tired to ask, and the loudspeakers haven’t stopped yet, mother shouting, aachchi shouting, chithti shouting, thaththa shouting,… I decided to eat first. Senthil eats quickly and runs away again.

It is going to be mulaippari in the evening today and karakaattam after that.
PS: different period of time (my age) than the other one (shops post). I am younger and small in this one.


டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

Hi Premalatha:
//He shows me his watch-mittai// hahaha... I still remember that mittai. Perhaps not the best but still one which we all always wanted to have. Perhaps I was more excited by the puppet that is on the top of his bamboo pole(which claps its hands when the guy mmanipulated by his toe) than the mittai itself.

All along when I read the post, I cant stop thinking it would have been awesome had it been in tamil. But I do know thats a matter of your choice and your audience are simply not just Tamils anymore. Nevertheless, the post, as usual, was awesome.

Premalatha said...

All along when I read the post, I cant stop thinking it would have been awesome had it been in tamil
It is very interesting you said that, as I have started thinking of writing it in Thamil.
few reasons that are stopping me, rather, keeping me back..
1)Thamil typing.
2)as you have noticed, I don't have many tamil readers (not many otherwise also, so, if I am writing for my self satisfaction, I should write it Thamil)
3)Then there will be style of writing.. My "madurai"th thamil is corrupted now. Although I still speak "vanthutainga"- style (realy, I do speak like that only), I have lost many many words. I realise this when I speak to my aachchi. sometimes I find myself rediscovering few words from her. anyway, this will take the posts to two layers-under-testing.. information, style. I am not confident about my Thamil style. I will try and if it works out well, I will write everything in Thamil again. but, that is after finishing Pangunippongal posts and there is that "competition" left unfinished.. so, when I have time I will do all the posts in Thamil, surely. :-)

by the puppet
I forgot about that one! :(

should I add/edit? Or leave it?

Balaji S Rajan said...

Panchumittai and sonpappadi have been always my favourite. I remember the days, when as kids we used to keep running behind the Panchumittaikarar, and the way the doll on top keeping clapping or dancing.

You are good in bringing every details. I think you should have been good in directing stories. You have a very good natural way of expressing. Keep it up!

Michelle said...

The feeling of the crowds and noise is excellent, prema. I could feel I was there too!

Premalatha said...

Hi Balaji,

thanks for dropping by. Thank you very much for your comments. Very flattering. But first I will see if I can finish the pangunipongal stories satisfactorily.:-)

Premalatha said...

I think you should have been good in directing stories.

Hi Balaji,

Most of my stories are from memories. Actually I started writing only memories first and then I slowly moved on to include little extra bits. they are still mostly from memories. I hope to move on to write more stroies and would want to see myself whether I am capable of writing anything then. Murugan, the little boy in this story is that extra bit, but, immediately I was reminded of my relative boy (not exactly cousin, as, by relation he is my maama, but younger than me), so, I used his name. the family arguement scene shown at the begining is again an extra bit, although they are very much similar to one of those arguements I have seen in real life. so, it is still not completely outside my memories. I have a longway to go. You comment is very encourgaing. Thank you very much for that.

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

Stick to English, perhaps Tamil version could follow later when you are more free to do so. Am sure it would be lovely to read a post(s) on life in Komabi in the native accent.
The puppet stuff, just leave it as it is. I just wanted to tell you what I thought when I read about the watch mittai. :)

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

Some afterthoughts, again:
//My "madurai"th thamil is corrupted now. Although I still speak "vanthutainga"- style//
I was very excited to hear the "vanthutainga" and also your remark about your Madurai Tamil getting corrupted. My friends used to tease me for my madurai tamil. (ingitu, angkitu et al). As time went my way of talking got "corrupted". But according to my friends my tamil got "refined". hahahaha

I dont think you are have anything to worry about your readership. You are able to strike a chord with your readers that is something not many are destined to enjoy.

Premalatha said...

But according to my friends my tamil got "refined".

that is an insult and offensive. why should maduraiththamil should be "refined"? does anybody else "refine" their dialect? I would consider that very offensive if anybody told me that.

இங்கிட்டு வரசொல்லுங்க ஒரு கை பார்க்கிறேன். வரமட்டாய்ங்க, பயந்தங்கொல்லிப்பயலுக. :-) தின்னவேலிக்காரவுகளா இருந்த அருவால எடுப்பாக. நம்மகிட்ட தராசுதேய்ன் இருக்கு. அதவைச்சுக்கிட்டு கடதேய்ன் போட முடியும். அதனால என்னா, பேசியே கொன்னுருவோம்ல. கோம்பைக்காரியா கொக்கா :-)

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

Well, it was said in good fun by some close buddies. So, I let it go :)
//இங்கிட்டு வரசொல்லுங்க ஒரு கை பார்க்கிறேன். வரமட்டாய்ங்க, பயந்தங்கொல்லிப்பயலுக. :-) தின்னவேலிக்காரவுகளா இருந்த அருவால எடுப்பாக. நம்மகிட்ட தராசுதேய்ன் இருக்கு. அதவைச்சுக்கிட்டு கடதேய்ன் போட முடியும். அதனால என்னா, பேசியே கொன்னுருவோம்ல. கோம்பைக்காரியா கொக்கா :-)//
This is awesome. சும்மாவா, முறத்தால புலிய ஓட்டின பெண்கள் வாழ்ந்த நாடாச்சே :)கலக்கிட்டீங்க போங்க :) ஆனா தராச விட எடைக்கல்லு ரொம்ப உபயோகமா இருக்குமுன்னு நெனக்கறேங்க :)

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

எடைக்கல் is படிக்கல்.

Premalatha said...

ஆனா தராச விட எடைக்கல்லு ரொம்ப உபயோகமா இருக்குமுன்னு நெனக்கறேங்க :)

மண்ட பொழந்துரும் பயலுக்கு. நமக்கு ரத்தம் புடிக்காது. பேசிக்கலாம். தப்பிய்க்க் முடியாதுல்ல. பிய்ச்சுப்புடுவோமல.

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

ஹாஹா :)

Premalatha said...

என்னா, எடக்கல்லுக்கெல்லாம் வெளக்கஞ்சொல்லிக்கிட்டு?

(I have to go. See you in the evening. It was fun. :-))

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

See ya :) Was fun indeed .

sudha said...

:)) ... என் classmate "lateaa போனா sir வைய்ய மாட்டாங்கலா?" னு கேட்க , naan thiru thirunu muzhicha flasback .. i didnt know vaiyya means scold then.

Raajk said...

Hi Prema,
Very nice post. And, you know what, even now if I see this sombapodikaaran when I go home, I will never miss it.

அப்புறம், இந்த மதுரக்காரய்ங்ககூட ஒரே கூத்துதான் போங்க. எனக்கு நிறைய மதுர friends இருக்காங்க. நம்ம டி.ராஜ் சொன்ன மாதிரி அவனுங்க கூட எப்பவும் இதான் பேச்சு.

ஆனா எனக்கு மதுர தமிழும் திரிநெல்வேலி தமிழும் ரொம்ப பிடிக்கும். எங்க ஊர் சென்னை பக்கம்ன்றதால கல்லூரி போன பிறகுதான் even my tamil got better. I like ALL the regional dialects.

Premalatha said...

Hi sudha,

ஒருவாட்டி ஒரு guestக்கு காப்பி கொடுக்கும்போது, பேசிக்கிட்டெ கொடுத்தேன். அவங்களும் பேச்சு சுவராஸ்யத்துல வாங்க்கிக்கப் போனாங்க. It was in a stainless steel tumbler, so I wanted to warn him that it was hot. "பொசுக்குது, பொசுக்குது"ன்னு சொன்னேன். அவர் குழம்பிப்போய் ஒரு முழி முழிச்சிட்டு கவலையே படாம he held the tumbler very tight. obviously சுட்டுருச்சு. Then he screamed. I told him that I did warn him. he was saying that no I didn't. I forgot the exact word I used. பேச்சு சுவராஸ்யத்துல மறந்து போச்சு. It took me sometime to realise the word I used and then to realise why he had a confused look on his face and why he didn't get the warning!

பையாப் போறது.. :-)

Balan still learns my language. He still goes confused at times. lol.

Hi RaajK

நம்ம டி.ராஜ் சொன்ன மாதிரி அவனுங்க கூட எப்பவும் இதான் பேச்சு.

correction: அவைங்க கூட :-)

அப்புறம், இன்னொரு correction, மதுர இல்ல, மருத. lol.

Our regional sounds are accents aren't they. dielect is something different.
Brhamin Thamil is dialect. Madurai Thamil is accent, imo.

மருதக்காரிகிட்ட வாய்குடுத்தீயளே. தப்புத்தான. sorry. I was enjoying your comment.

I should go home. heavy snow here. this morning it took me 1hr45 minutes to come to office. the normal driving time from my flat to my office is 10minutes! there are accidents and everyone want to avoid country roads etc. etc.

also it has been snowing all day. there will be more accidents and more delay now. our road (to our office) is not gritted!
I should go.

Thanks for all your comments.

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

We should attempt to collect all these madurai accent words :) It might be fun to do so, I guess :)

phantom363 said...


senthil seems to have it easy. is it just because he was a boy? or is because he is younger to you? somehow, we always make the older kid responsible for the antics of the younger ones. the older ones never have a chance to be a child once the younger ones are born. especially if you are a girl. i think it is expected and enforced. :(

we have similar games in canada too. it is in small lumber communities and is secular celebration of the coming of fall. the pole is greased and the contestants are tested as to how high they can climb without slipping back to the ground. :)

pragatheesh said...

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