Growing up in the most TamBrahm part of Mumbai — by Sweta
Except for speaking Hindi without a Tamilian accent, any TamBrahm from Mumbai is as Tamilian as their Chennai counterpart if they grew up in Matunga, Chembur-Chedda Nagar and Goregaon-Bangur Nagar!
And if by any chance you went to Vivek Vidyalaya in Goregaon or SIES in Matunga, then you will know how to read and write Tamil or Malayalam (depends on whether you are Tamil Nadu TamBrahm or Kerala Iyer, I am the latter) En kooda konjam neram peshinaale MMKR Kameshwaran odu ormai vandhudum.
These second generation TamBrahm Mumbaikars while taking a walk in their neighbourhood will have to reluctantly say hello to their parents’ friends (we’ve all been there and done that) by saying “Namaste uncle” and some 100 yards further will say “Krishnan Maama, eppidi irukkel?” The only difference being that Marwari uncle will say hello back and leave but Krishnan Mama will ask about Appa, Amma, 10 std marks, IIT coaching and also about your cousin Anju’s wedding next month. Vambu you see, too much vambu!
Mama’ve ippidi na Mami kekkave vendaam. Maami will look at the boy or girl walking with you. Screen them from top to bottom to see if anything is going on between the two of you. Mamis have special powers. With one look they can determine if a boy and girl are just friends of if there is any hanky panky going on. And if they detect something, before you reach home, the news of “oru Gujrati paiyyan kooda chuttindu irundaal ponnu” will reach your Amma via landline! Ippo laam WhatsApp pannaraal na theiryalai but naan college la padikarthe laam landline la thaan phone varum.
Millenials in Chennai might think we have it easy because we won’t have to go attend poojas or archanais but when one is from the places I mentioned in the opening sentence, there will be Bhagawati Sevai, Shasta Preeti, Kumbhabhishekam, Laksharchanai almost every month in some temple, some where. And it will of course be on a weekend and Amma will say vandhutu chaaptutu poidu, onakku vendi matram chamakya mudiyaadhu. Not that the thought of having sadhya chaapadu doesn’t excite us but the sheer thought of getting dressed in salwar suit or sari and meeting so many of our parents friends and answering their questions is so taxing that one might just settle with eating Maggi noodles at home while watching Kuch Kuch Hota Hai for the 20th time!
And if somehow your parents do convince you to come, there will be one Mami with one story about how Indian Bank Mani Mama’odu ponnu met a Sindhi fellow in college and ran away (not eloped, ran away because odi poita) with him because Mani Mama did not agree to the match. After that your parents will tell you “love laam pannadhe. Pannanum naalum nammalavala irukkanum” And when you say that you know very few nammalava boys to be friends with they will convince you to attend more functions at the nearby temple. I was told one boy is very religious, goes to temple every Saturday and is apparently going to IIM Ahmedabad. Mind voice – adhukku naan enna pannardhu?!
These Mumbaikars are a good mix of TamBrahm-ness and Bombaiyya because they will pottu ittufy and poo vechufy for weddings and poonals but also do the Ganpati Visarjan dance with no inhibitions! They will burst crackers at 4am on Diwali day with Appa and cousins and also burst crackers at night with their Northie friends. (I know we should say no to crackers but chumma oru perspective’ku chonnen)
Besides the lack of a Saravana Bhavan every three kilometres, these parts of Mumbai are very much like Chennai. Infact Matunga is called Mini Madras and Bangur Nagar is called Mini Matunga. You will see malli poo vendors, vegetable vendors with velirikkai, chenai, drumstick, Giri Trading Agency with the latest CD of Unnikrishnan (but still only MSS’s Suprabhaatam will play in the morning, enna Bombaai aanalum TamBrahm engeyum MSS fan dhaan), XYZ Sweets and Snacks (which will have sambar podi, paruppu podi, molaga podi, Mysore Concerns kaapi podi, Diwali palahaaram for poor souls like me who can’t make them), Dosa batter and chutney for sale to pick up after work every evening (Grinder laam vechukka aathula edam illai)
Oh and not to forget if one is a Kerala Iyer like myself there will most definitely be a sticker of “Sree Guruvayoorappan Ee Vidinde Aishwaryam” on the door