Our family, like regular readers of this space know all too well, is fairly complicated.
Yes, dear readers, in this latest Monkey Scroll, I return to My Family.
With it I mean, like you are all rightly guessing, my extended family, about the population of Burkina Faso, my beloved country. (Now, there's a country I'd like to take over in a coup; so I could be registered forever in the annals of history of Burkina Faso as the first man in the country to type Burkina Faso on a computer, as also to be the first man to use a toothbrush)
Just you imagine my exam papers; once I rambled on about a disease that "stings like a scorpion, drinks like a fish (WTF), eats like a wolf, burrows like a rodent and kills like a leopard", to be disturbed only by the dirty stare of the invigilator, and thus also realize I was writing about something as uncool as Pancreatitis, meh. No offence to one of my favorite bloggers, Adorable Pancreas, of course. Besides, that line is no offshoot of my magic realism infested mind (harr, harr), but one paraphrased from a Surgery textbook that insists on referring to them as "Wisdom Lines". Ah, succinct.
Gulzar returns to Taj Westend for inspiration; David Dhawan to jokes shared by truckdrivers on the Ambala-Amritsar highway.
I, return to my family.
We are a family full of quirks. Living in one like this has its many moments. Just like today; an uncle who abhors conversions so much that he said, "Look how these Kiristan types are infiltrating. The new 2 rupee coin has a cross on it!".
But all that is part of Being Brahmin, but of course.
Today, we explore quirks and the like of our bona-fide KanBrahm family.
1. We love Dr. Rajkumar; to life, to death, and beyond.
Now this one is quite the quirk; just like amma points out every so often. We may be a Brahmin-centric family, but we are so culturally tolerant we should all get honorary Sangeet Natak Akademi awards. The argument here being, Vishnuvardhan, the Smartha-Hoysala Karnataka boy deserves all our praise, but no. We loathe the man and his hundred dogs. To us, the Eediga boy, despite his hippopotamus wife and dyslexic children (with one of them creepily resembling a chimpanzee) is The God.
Appa has watched close to everyone of his films (206), and Amma can sing entire lyrics of his songs, and we groove to "Eef yuu cum todayy". If anybody wants to take potshots at that song, I shall personally ensure your castration. Aseptic, of course.
What a sad period it was for us when he was abducted by that Jungle Boy with the porcine whiskers. Amma, I am sure, did extra ashtottarams everyday for his speedy release. And look how much God listens to her, he was out after 108 days!
Then of course, was the day we lost him, that great man whom we love despite his "Lovw mee aar hayt mee". Amma shrieked a big shriek, and I thought she saw big lizards copulating (for you know, that is double reason to. LIZARDS and SEX! The horror, the horror). But no, it was that Rajkumar had died.
If anybody wants to argue against his greatness, or that NTR, MGR, MRF whoever was superior to him, please visit us. We will keep you occupied.
2. We stay away from Telugu people, thank you.
It's not about their surnames, no. We have made our peace with Korraguntla, Errakundi, ityaadi. It's their Balakrishna-inspired wardrobe that makes us hyper-emetic. Only Govinda can pull off orange and distemper green. No one else, not even your Mahaputrudu Chiranjeevi, or Powerstar Pawan Kalyan.
Amma also opines that the Telugu sub-caste among Brahmins spell bad news. Discord they bring, apparently. So, Telugu biddas and babus, we discard.
Also, stop giving us Gongura chutney, even if you think that's the best thing to happen to food since rice. We Hate It. It takes like dogshit. (A sock in the face for every not-so-smart Alec who goes, "Have you tasted dogshit?" That will be some Gult, I imagine)
While we are at it, a note to Hyderabad. (It's NOT HyDeraBaD please. It gives me the creeps)
Stop Imitating Bangalore.
Besides, it's just humiliating to the women of the household, if a stray plumber declares an open threat, saying "Rape chestaanu".
They were just asking for tap repairs. Jesus.
3. We stay away from Tamilians, thank you.
We are okay if you are among those that follow the Sringeri Sharada Peetham, or if you can get us VIP entry into the Srirangam temple, but others, no.
Strangely enough, it's your wardrobe again. Kongaati.
And your obsession with filmstars. And your obsession with all things Tamil. And your obsession with keeping all display hoardings in Tamil. And your obsession with speaking only Tamil even when you realize I Am Not Getting It. So basically, you are an obsessive lot.
Just what is up with that sepulchral dung-a-taka-dung-a-taka music of yours? Sheesh.
Kaaveri, Lord Ram, His bridge, His monkeys, Sarah Jessica Parker's high heels. You have an issue with everything.
4. We stay away from Malayalees, thank you.
If it was wardrobe in the other two cases, it's the lack of it this time.
It's really a simple question, voiced by many women of our family: Why don't the women wear their pallu-s ever? It baffles them, it does. (This is of course based on the Malayalee women that appear on Kannada films.)
Also, can somebody please tell these Malayalees that we DON'T put coconut on Pani Puri? And that we are tired of the "there-is-a-Mal-everywhere" motif in their incredibly unfunny jokes? Yes, we get that there is a Mal tea shop on the Moon and in a nebula 25000 light years away. We Get It.
What is WITH the non-Hindu not being allowed entry into your super temples, eh? Beats me that one.
(But I love my Malayalee readers and their blogs. Tys, AP, Sreejith etc. My best friend is a Malayalee. So there)
5. We love Kannadigas.
6. We don't cut cakes on birthdays.
This is something terribly special to only our family. A quirk, let's say. With a poignant tale behind it. So, don't laugh all you twits.
We don't believe in blowing candles, because that's just pointless.
The Cake then. Brother S had a big budday party with a huge cake and all. Our grandpa died only a few days later. I had this budday party in Delhi with a huge cake and all. Our grandma dies only a few days later. Another cousin had a few days before his birthday with plans to (there you go) cut a cake and all, but my paternal grandma passed away even before that could happen.
So yes. No Cutting Cake. We cut chai, though.
7. Maggi. What's that?
This one never fails to amuse my friends. I don't eat Maggi or Top Ramen or any of those things. The reason being, they look like snakes. No, you didn't just read a random surrealism. That, my dear readers, is true. Appa-Amma did some pooja-paath at a snake-shrine a zillion moons ago which forbids them from eating anything that's slender and (what else), snake-like. (This was the same pooja that Sachin Tendulkar recently did at the same venue. We had no paparazzi then, WTF.)
So, as it goes, we don't eat Maggi, Top Ramen, vermicelli and (ah, what coincidence) snake gourd.
8. B.A., B.Sc., B.Com. People do these?
I remember a cousin from up north visiting home, and saying he was doing B.A.
"WHAT?" was what we said, I remember. To his credit, the boy was doing a Mathematics honors B.A.
While in twelfth, I seriously considered studying Law. Which was also when mom decided I was capable of murder too.
"Law! Why? You want to wear black coats all your life?! White is so much more calm!" was what EVERYONE said. Wonder what they would have said if I said I wanted to do B.A. in English Literature.
I would probably be writing this one from a seedy internet cafe.
9. Foreign returned = USA returned.
You go hike with the polar bears up in the North Pole, or do tap dance with the the penguins down South, we don't care. Unless you make that holy visit to the United Stated of America and take teertha-prasada at the Statue of Liberty, you do not qualify to be declared "Foreign Returned". Crossing the Arabian Sea is akin to crossing Madiwala Lake.
The Gulf Does Not Count.
So there. Nine snippets from Namma Family for the Nava Raatri.
P.S.: We aren't as maniacally Kannadiga as you may be thinking. Appa watches news in English! And Amma thinks Homer Simpson is funny.
P.P.S.: This is fiction in parts. Talk about magic realism.
P.P.S.: Talking about magic realism, I am two books short of an All-Rushdie collection. Yay me!