Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pappachan's Lingo

I was watching Akkarakazhchakal a series on a Malayali family settled in New Jersey. My hubby and I off late enjoy this series especially the characters of George Thekumootil and Gregory. My fondness for this series is because of the resemblance George's character bears to my own father. Having lived in the middle east our childhood was no different from Chakki's and Matt's except for the fact that in the middle east we weren't americanised or 'middle easternised'. There are certain classy dialogues and lingos that George uses which reminded me of the classic dialogues of my father. With him not being around I thought I should pen them down before I forget them. I so wish I had recorded my dad's voice to remember his intonations. Many of dad's dialogues are something I see in common with a lot of malayalee dads. My hubby and I discussed these dialogues and he said he wasn't familiar with many and his dad's was a different lingo. I will write these lines with their intended meanings. Many of them were gender biased but today they make me laugh though long time ago they did make me mad.It seems hard to remember them when I want to write them down though I use a lot of them in my day to day life.

Papachan's Lingo

  1. Thandaku ezhu divasam munbe janichavale ( born seven days before your dad)- This was his favourite line when he was mad at me. I don't know if he meant I was smart but he showered this quite frequently when i argued with him.
  2. Pothu pole valarnallo ( You have grown like a buffalo)- This never meant about my physical growth it was always mentioned when I refused to do a chore and was used to remind me that I would be married off soon so I needed more training in domestic chores. However, this line was targeted at me since my year 3 , dad was anxious about my marriage from my kindergarten days.
  3. Kunjumuthukan ( Little old guy) - Dad loved describing people, especially when we went to visit new born babies. He often said some kids had a kiddish charm while some kids looked like old men which he believed was a reincarnation of an old grandparent into the body of a child so it was a miniature grandpa hence the name kunju(little) muthukan ( old man). He often called a gujarati neighbour's son in this name and that was our code name for this kid.
  4. Onathi- Onathi according to dad was a lady who was his neighbour back in home town. According to dad this woman cried throughout her conversation with anyone and so was named Onathi which roughly translates as a woman who cries. My sis was a  cry baby when she was young so dad often told her not to turn into Onathi.
  5. Durkilavan- ( evil old man)- Dad beleived many old men who were evil would rot in hell when they die. He especially recounted a story of an old guy he saw in his childhood. He was an altar boy and went to this old man's house with the priest to give the last sacrament. The old man kept screaming " the devil is here with chains, I don't wanna go". Dad said bad old guys like this go to hell for their bad deeds and called them " Dur kilavan". He believed one of his own brother was a durkilavan :).
  6. Kottayil koriko ( Sweep into a basket)- Dad used this term for rash drivers and believed they would be swept from the road into baskets in an accident. He  was biased regarding women drivers and believed many would meet their ends in basket.
  7. Pettiyil pokuka ( Go in a box)- Dad hated funerals and also the fact that he had to see many close friends die and go back to India in a coffin box worried him even more. He often joked that we all came to the desert in a plan but would go back in a box.All his life he swore his end would be different and eventually succumbed to what fate had in store for him.
  8. Pela manam ( a bad odour) - Dad smelt very sweet, he was crazy about perfumes and equally mad at people who were not conscious of their body odour. Pela manam is a term he gave to the body odour which resembled the odour of the working class labourers back in his home town. Though a very casteist remark he often used this at my brother when he didn't take a shower.I use it with my hubby and is a word that has become popular in our household these days.
  9. Tolve ( Twelve)- I loved the way dad pronounced twelve and though I never corrected him, I could not help giggle every time he pronounced twelve.I know I could have my flaws too but dad thought he was perfect and so this little error of his was a joke between us kids.
  10. Kathanarum, paleem , pattakarum ( priest, church and the holy ones)- In my mom's family priests are revered and called 'Achan'. Dad however referred to priests as Kathanar and there was an irreverence every time he uttered it.To every argument mom made in the name of the church dad's response would be " Ninte paleem, pattakarum" - Your church and holy ones. Dad loved criticism and never spared the church.
  11. Njondu viralan( Half finger), poochakanni ( Cat eyes), kokku (Stork), ambattan ( barmber community), unda ( Short),  chooduvellam ( Hot water)- Dad loved baptising people with nicknames and based on their attributes or an act they did, dad labelled them and taught mom these lingos without fail mostly they were attributed to her friends. I would refrain from the stories lest some of them chance upon this post.
  12. Koppa ( Bowl)- Dad  used this word very rarely when he was nostalgic and remembered his childhood days. He said they had their coffee and and toddy in a soup bowl referred to as Koppa in those days. A friend of mine whose Anglo Indian told me once that koppa is a Portuguese word and a lingo they still used in their families.
I guess I will end this here. Does your family have a lingo you feel is different? You can share it here also did your parents use any of these?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cat chronicles- Sigmu

I have very recently realized, that I can rant for hours on my cats apart from food and books my usual topics for discussion.I was brought up in a pet friendly household. If I can remember correctly the list of animals my dad kept runs from pigeons and flying ducks to hamsters, eagles, piranhas and neon frogs. Dad ran a shelter for animals in our two bedroom apartment. My mom was his accomplice alongwith my sister who thought this was a religion. I hated animals in those days. I think it was dad's over dose of doting that made me aversive to animals. I was simply jealous of the cockatoo and amazon parrot whose intelligence dad harped all the time.But nevetheless I had a turtle, few hamsters and a guinea pig which I refused to call pets.Animal love perhaps was ingrained in my blood,though I did not profoundly profess it.

Joining IIT was the phase two in my life. I lost my dad few months before joining IIT. I sometimes feel, he left few qualities of his with me when he left. I soon started appreciating the wildlife of IIT. The deer, the monkey, stray dogs and birds. But what I was never prepared for was the cats in IIT. Our hostel had few of them too. My experiences with cats in the past weren't very rosy. I even hated Tom in Tom and Jerry because my sister told I was Tom and Tom always lost to Jerry. But then I started observing cats in my hostel carefully. And then Sigmu was born. Sigmu was the first kitten I had held in my arms and the little fella grew close to me. He introduced me to the world of cats and continues to amuse me till date. He is as old a resident as me in this place and we both cohabit, room no 142 at Sarayu hostel.

Living with cats 4.5 years in IIT, I think I understand them, even respect them more. I have realized we all have myths regarding cats.We tend to beleive without experiencing  cats a lot of things which actually is not true. Like we say cats are selfish. Sigmu proves me wrong  on this note. There are times he mews at me, comes visits me expecting no food, no pampering and yet we both feel good in each other;s company. Sigmu was named after Sigmund Freud. I swear I have no interest in Freud but when I saw Sigmu- I felt like calling him Sigmu. 4 years down the line, now many call him Zorro because he has a mask like face. But even today when I enter the hostel and scream "SIGMU" after a 10 day vacation- he comes down all excited like he did when he was a kid.

What I love about Sigmu the most is his ability to sense my moods.There are days he loiters around in my room when I am  down. I find him pensive on such days, he watches me and we both sit down on the floor silent. He does not mew, he comes near me at times, licks my cheek when I cry but he never mews. He is also the most spoilt cat around and is a junk food addict.This is something I have noticed in Cats at hostel they have different eating habits. Sigmu loves chips and fried stuff and can hardly stand veg gravies on his chappathis.He loves cream biscuits and my hubby is benevolent in funding for Sigmu's diet and so I always have in store cream biscuits for this fellow. He has the most irritating voice I have seen in cats and many hate him for this matter and shoo him away. He takes his revenge by peeing on their shoes outside their room and calls him a nuisance. Till date this fellow has never  dirtied my room so I firmly believe he understands what revenge is when he pees on the sandals of other girls :)

Recently when I got a pet cat at home I realized not all cats are friendly with stuffed toys. My pet Don uses stuffed dolls are his punching bag while Sigmu loves my toys as is evident from the pic above :)
There is so much I could still describe about Sigmu but I guess we can come back again. Sigmu is a father today and I see him take care of his kittens. He watches them from a distance cautions them when they do mischiefs and dotes over them like a loving dad. I don't know if this is common to every cat because I don't see the mother cat do any of this. To many this is just a black and white cat with a horrible voice but there's so much character in this cat and a bonding we both share- he made me love cats as a species and I would always love him. Love you Sigmu.