Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Madras Bashai

I am from Trichy or Tiruchy or Tiruchirapally or Trichinopoly as the Brits called. I learnt speaking Tamil from my childhood in this city. My Tamil was very nice in those days. In the sense it did not have any adulteration that Tamil used in Chennai has. When I used to tell my friends that I was moving to Chennai, they used to tease me that I will start speaking Madras Bashai and I will no longer remember the Tamil I had originally learnt. I used to argue with them and tell that there is no way on earth I would forget the Tamil I learnt in Thiruvalluvar Nadu. No way.

I moved to Chennai and all seemed fine. People used to really speak a bit different from what I did. I sincerely tried my best to keep my accent the way it was.

Time rolled on and after a few years I had my own car and I would drive around Chennai running errands or spending time with friends. One day I was driving with my mom taking her to get some shopping done when an auto rickshaw cut me sharp and I braked just in time to avoid our vehicles touching. I got so mad that I chased this guy down near a signal and rolled my window down (forgetting mom was sitting next to me) I yelled at him, "Mavane sollitu vandhutiya? En vandi dhan kidaichitcha unakku?" (Dear Son, did you tell in your house and come? You found only my car?)**

I saw the auto driver's jaw drop. Looked like he was in a state of shock. He then saw that my mother was sitting next to me. He looked at her and asked, "Enna ma idhu? Ponnu ipidi pesudhu?" (What this is? Why girl talking like this?)

My mother polietly told him, "Sorry thambi, but neengalum konjam parthu dhane ottanum?". (Sorry brother, but you can also pay attention while driving right?)

"Adhukunu ipidiya ma?" (For that? Like this?)

"Bayandhutta pa." (She got scared) My mom told him. I quickly jumped in and said, "Bayam ellam onnum illa...kovam dhan." (No fear and all that, anger only.)

And we left the scene as the signal turned green.

My mom chastised me and told me that it was not right for me to abuse anyone, especially an auto driver, especially when I am alone. She kept repeating what if he had said something back, blah blah blah. That truly did not stop me from being polite while I was on the driver's dad told me that it will take driving on the streets of Chennai to turn a saint into a swearer...and I was no saint to begin with anyway.

But, the point is, that it was that day I realized that I had become a Chennai-ite or a Madrasi. I had blended in, I spoke their language. I could speak it as a second language and had no problem. Worse, I found out that I could no longer remember what it was to speak Tamil like a Tiruchy person. Damn and from then on, there was no looking back and all my friends who knew me in Chennai will attest to that. I could swear like a sailor and speak Madras Bashai with elan. No problems there!

Do I regret it? No, I will just add the dialect as a feather to my already existing list of languages I know to speak. It is a dialect that only a few of us can speak and understand! It is ours and ours only!!! Made in Chennai...

Why was I reminded of this? Well, I was listening to a Madras Dappankuthu song the other day from the movie Aaru, and it was fully in Madras Bashai and I understood not just the lyrics but knew exactly what he was talking about...weird...Yes I am a MADRASI! Even after 8 years of not exactly living there.

PS: If you have not heard it, listen to the song "Azhagukku Thai Poruppu" from Azhavandhan. Amazing song. Simply beautiful. The lyrics are great but the music is brilliant too.

**PS: Translation

The translation above it more like transliteration...
When people get angry at someone for doing some wrong driving then they usually question them with the "mavane..." It simply means, did you tell in your house that you won't be returning back? Did you find only my car to fall and die?


P said...

I think it is so for every cosmopolitan city!..for eg. our Bombaiya language being prety diff frm hindi!
Hell even the news readers use diff english!
I think all this is done with a flair and kind of "proud of it" attitude!

Megha Bansal said...

hahaha, once a madrasi always a madrasi?
arey tu bol jo tereko bolna hai.
language is a living thing, that's the beauty of it :)

Shar said...

Anu...Utta antha Auto karanga nammalaiye yethittu poiduvaanunga...Nee senjathu carrict (!!!)...I can relate to the whole incident so well...Unakku badhila naa, yennoda santro, and my dad...Gosh...same Auto driver incident...Man, the words that i used that day..I did not know, i knew so much...My dad was shocked and swore i was possesed by another kuppathu kaari :) :)...But i was proud that could stand up for myself...I love Chennai...Rock on Babe..

Trevor Penn said...

I can totally relate to that. I have a few select friends with whom i converse in Hyderabadi. Just love the kaiku, hallu, howle, aisich, etc...

Suchi said...

I visited your blog after ages and saw the comment under your profile - yes, I am one of those "chicken" readers that never left a comment before - but I have since been spurred into action. I am from Chennai too - and after reading your blog realized we are fellow SRMites too!! I can very well relate to this incident - most Madrasis can. Our bus driver in SRM had the most flowery language I have heard - and we heard it every morning on our way to college :) It's fun reading your blog - I will make sure to comment in future as well.

Anu Russell said...

Hey P,
Yup. Identity!

Ya, I love the evolution :)

Isn't is funny that these auto guys freak out if a girl talks back to them in their lingo?

Me too, only sad thing is that I do not have too many Madrasi friends here :(

Hey fellow SRM-ite. Did you travel on Bus No. 11, Anna Nagar route? that guy was the worst of the lot...GRRRRR...Thanks for stopping by and thanks more importantly for commenting :)

suchi said...

Yep, Annanagar route - I don't remember the bus number, but it has to be the same driver - impossible that it is a mistaken identity in his case, very few people swear as much or as badly as he did :)

Hawkeye said...

i havent yet forgotten my nellai dialect inspite of moving away from the place to madras many years ago. nice post.

Anu Russell said...


I wish I could say that...Ican understand the Tiruchi bashai very well...but only cannot speak it with distinction any more :(

Wish I did...