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South Indian Mamas And Mamis-past And Present

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by jayasala42, May 20, 2017 at 6:52 AM.

  1. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    Mamas and Mamis are always interesting to watch.
    In 1940-50 and earlier,she just couldn't do anything without Mama a minute around.
    Every now and then that 'ஏன்....ணா'
    will be heard just to ascertain mama's presence and especially to remind him that he had to reply with 'என்னடி சொல்லு'.
    She felt very happy to see him and
    asked him 'செத்த இங்க வர்றேளா'. ( will you come for a second?)
    The Mama would religiously present himself near her;
    but mami would say 'என்னத்துக்கு கூப்டேன்னு மறந்துட்டேன்;
    ( I forgot why I called)

    She woke up at 5 a.m. and couldn't bear the sight of people sleeping;
    .Prepared coffee,keeping it with a 'டக்' sound on the table saying 'இந்தாங்கோ காப்பி'.
    After two seconds 'என்ன காப்பி நன்னாயிருக்கா..........'( Is coffee nice?"

    A 'no' as an answer is a sin and
    mama will NEVER utter it.
    He will simply say 'ம்ம்'.
    Mama feared to be branded as 'அசட்டு ப்ராம்மணன்' ;
    ஒரு எழவும் தெரியாது'.( useless brahmin.Fit for nothing)
    But all said and done, this mami loved mama very much 'அய்யோ, நான் இல்லேன்னா அவர் திண்டாடிப் போவார் பாவம், மாமா குழந்தை மாதிரி'.
    ( Mama is so ignorant.He can't live without me)

    Todays's mamis are well informed than anyone.They talk spic and span flawless English and they are 'ulakam sutrum yuvathigal'.( global women).In a music sabha dominated by Tamilians their comments about kacheri will be 'kalyani raga, quintessence of raga, alapana with frills etc etc and nothing but English'.

    'Tamil vaarththaiye maranthu porathu'-( I forgot the Tamil word)is the oft heard comment.

    For decades, the Mamis were generally a subdued lot – sacrificing their interests, their choices,..,… for the sake of the family and single mindedly pursuing their husband’s and children’s interests selflessly. They took pride in the achievement of their kids and remained contended in whatever they were doing.

    Since the 80’s the Mamis have started taking a different avatar. It can be attributed to over all rise of middle class India ,post liberalization ,especially
    after the changes IT brought into the brahminical household.Very often it is referred to as 'Revenge of Mamis'.

    Far from being limiting their sojourn to pakathu veedus (neighbourhood), Kovil (Temple) and Kacheri(Concert), today the Mamis travel around the globe alone.If its 1 year in the Washington in the US to meet up with the elder son, then its Woodlands in Singapore or Sydney in Australia the next year ,along with a pleasure trip to Newzealand with the daughter!!!

    Ennoda passportla pages romba seekram theernthu pogarathu”
    (The pages in my passport get over very quickly) is a lament you can hear if you overhear 2 Mamis conversing. And the other Mami quipping – “Naan oru Jumbo passporta vaangi vachundurikken” (I have taken a Jumbo passport)

    In kacheris Mamas discuss Modi Vs Manmohan while the Mamis were comparing Sanjay’s rendition in Thyagaraja Aradhanas at Cleveland Vs Austin.

    Gone are the days when Mamis used to talk about going to Srirangam temple for Vaikunta Ekadasi and cross the ‘Swarga vaasal’ and buy kalsattis in Rangavilasam.Now its “Pona Vaikunda Ekadasi annikku Pittsburg Venkatachalapathi kovil poyittu apparam we had a Potluck party. Naan puliyodarai pannindu ponen. (Last year on Vaikunta Ekadasi we went to Pittsburg Venkatachalapathi temple and then we had a Potluck party. I prepared Tamarind rice)

    The Mamis have far better comprehension of Geography compared to their counterparts. When the Mamas struggle to figure out if SFO was on West coast or the East, the Mamis have no such confusion. “LA state na Louisiana state pa, Los Angeles illa” (LA state means it is Louisiana state not Los Angeles) – I heard a Mami clarifying to one MS aspirant the other day!

    They are very good in studying directions in the map and are quick to take the correct route by trains even in an unknown land.In many places they have to take blue , red or yellow lines, come to a transmigratory junction and take another elevator, go to another platform to go to the correct destination.While Mama, the post doctorate scholar is still blinking what to do, she acts very fast.Whenever a tour is planned she takes a list of common words, learns the corresponding term in Germam or French or Spanish and does not hesitate to ask the foreigner in his tongue and enquires about the hotel distance etc, verifies thro another person and proceeds in a clear route while the mama simply follows.

    Mamis completely overwhelm their better halves in the domain of health.Mamis are invariably treasures of medical knowledge. I have seen a mami having a diary of common illnesses,symptoms and prescriptions given normally by doctors.Finding answers on complex health questions real time with any Mamipedia is more accurate and faster than any other “pedia” in the worldwideweb.She excels in Law also relating to household matters.Her excellence is attributed to her curiosity to learn.

    Most of the Mamas have very little clue on their ailments, dosage of their medicines,.. and are completely dependent on their Mamis to guide them on these. “Intha tablet saapaatukku pinnala. Itha poi saapaatukku munnala pottu karele”?? (This tablet is supposed to be taken after meal. You are taking this before???) – is a dialogue one can hear often in brahmin households.On many occasions they question the doctor why he didn't prescribe a particular drug while the LDL is 200.Many young doctors confess that they become tense when they see a mama accompanied by a mami.The doctor may be even forced to say"why do you come to me?"

    Days are gone when mamas were good in the Queen's language.Now Mamis have mastered the language as well as the accent.If they give TOEFL they may score maximum.

    Mami is good not only in drawing kolams,wearing madisar, and decorating her daughter/grand daughter for Bharatha natyam performance ,but equally proactive in social media.They can talk about appalam or Tavala vada making and also about baking cakes, .They are experts in giving relevant trip s to tour programme of any country, which air line is cheap and best, which season to travel, which hotel is the best for indians, Which travel agent employs Indian guides and so on.
    Mamas had their sway for long.They were great in complaining, finding fault and lowering the dignity of one in the presence of all,had pride in their sleeves talking of their meritorious college days in 1930s.

    It is great wonder how their better halves tolerated them.
    But ladies knew pretty well that their words will be final at home and even if objected to initially by men out of their ego or Shrimat Gambeeram for a week or so,men have to come to their side as early as possible.
    It is this small space given to women that have enabled them rise far above men.
    There is a lot of difference between a 70 year old man and 70 year old woman.
    70 year old man has almost humbled down and has become'yes man', does not show his authority at home any more.
    But the woman of 70 now is quite modern, taken up responsibility, and has updated her knowledge in all worldly affairs and is eligible to give
    proper advice even a modern teen in agreeable lines.
    A 'negative' in mamas and 'more positives' in mamis have resulted in a wide gap.

    After years of being submissive, it’s their time of reckoning.'Revenge of Mamis is fully on. And they are clearly enjoying it. And the Mamas have accepted it gracefully.Is there a choice???

    Jayasala 42
     
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  2. joylokhi

    joylokhi Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear jayasala maam,
    what a wonderful write up of ' mamas and maamis'. I have not personally come across much of the situation of the 40- 50s and gathered onlyfrom the old tamil movies, as we were throughout away from south india during our growing up years. However, the change over the years as so well told by you, is very evident. Maamis for sure are keeping pace with the advancements in society to a much greater extent than the men, and this is the cause for a wide gap in the thinking and behaviours causing a lot of friction also i feel.
    Quote:A 'negative' in mamas and 'more positives' in mamis have resulted in a wide gap. Unquote
    The above could not be more true. At the same not many are willing to go along with this and accept the changes also easily. Here lies the issues that crop up within the families when it deals with the younger generations under the same roof!
    On a lighter note, I am waiting for my mama to accept everything gracefully:tongueclosed:
     
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  3. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Joylokhi,
    Thank you very much for the response.
    As I have been brought up in a pakka village,I am aware of typical South Indian Brahminical slang very much prominent in all the houses of Agraharam.
    I do understand that there are people who are not prepared to accept any change and spend their time in lamenting.If we are not adaptable, changes will overpower us reducing us to nothing.

    Jayasala 42
     
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  4. satchitananda

    satchitananda Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear JS Ma'am, what a delightful piece. I could almost picture and hear the conversations (though I am illiterate in Tamil and so could not understand what you had written in Tamil). Was really hilarious. Yes, the Mamis of today were well educated and the standards of yesteryear were a lot higher than those of today. Many of them are literature buffs, students of economics and whathaveyou. No wonder that most of them are tech-savvy and perfectly at ease with the internet, e-mail and such like.

    I always wonder at what age the term 'mami' becomes applicable. The word 'mami' brings forward a typical picture before the eyes. Many of the 'mami' eligibles do not somehow fit into that category these days. I mean, imagine a typical 'mami' in Fabindia kurtas or kurtis, devoid of the middle parting, with short hair, without the obligatory diamonds in the nose and ears ...... So it is a term applying to age or appearance or just an honorific?

    Thanks for that thoroughly enjoyable snippet.
     
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  5. GoogleGlass

    GoogleGlass Finest Post Winner

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    very nice writeup J - enjoyed reading it.

    the last line is the punch - too good :)
     
  6. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Satchitananda,
    Thank you for the feedback.Normally in those days every woman,, after marriage was addressed as mami, if she does not fit into the roles of mother, sister, grandma, chithi, periamma and athai. It is just a respectful term for known women.In those days many women women were wearing'madisar sarees( nine yards) and had nose studs on both sides.A typical mami of South was picurised as a middle aged woman in her sarees and mookkuththi with a special slang of their own such as:-
    Aaththukku vaa-come to my house
    Aaththukkaarar- husband and so many others.
    As days advanced nine yrds sarees were replaced by 6 yds sarees and then by chooridars. But normally women in Choodidar and other modern outfits don't like to be rather addresses as 'auntie' than 'mami'.But there are some women who like to be addressed as 'mami' only.
    Ladies with culinary skills rather love to be addressed as 'mami'only.
    I think the term'mami' with all the typical definitions would vanish once for all.'Auntie' may remain for some years and later replaced by 'akka' and of course by'the personal name with Miss/MS/ mrs.
    The names may change but the the enthu will remain for ever.

    jayasala 42
     
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  7. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear google Glass,
    Thanks for the response. The last line applies to all men, because they have to thrive.
    My mother very often used to say, even if the mama of the house , is a dunce and 'asadu; ,it does not matter.If the'mami is capable, it is more than enough.The proper functioning of home lies only in mami's hands.This is a proven fact.
    Jayasala 42
    Jayasala 42
     
  8. kkrish

    kkrish Finest Post Winner

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    Lovely @jayasala42 maami!
    You took me to the times of Mouli's, Visu's, and S.V. Sekar's drama days, and reading yesteryear's Deepavali malars.
    It was like visiting Mylapore and Mambalam (no, not T.Nagar) once more.

    Nostalgia mingled with humor, and above all a tongue-n-cheek observation of the reforming society was such a pleasure to read.

    I was smiling throughout and also nodding in affirmation at every statement.

    Amusing piece. You should send this to Ananda vikatan to be published in their Deepavali Malar.
     
  9. satchitananda

    satchitananda Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Why not T.Nagar, @kkrish Kamala? Am I missing something here?
     
  10. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear KKrish,
    Thank you for the lovely response.In fact when I write this I am looking myself.I was brought up in a joint family of nearly 25 people with 15 cousins.No electricity.'Do it before sunset'-was the essential motto.Form age 8 my job was to clean the three lanterns with viboothi everyday.Having addressed people as aththaan, ammanga and ammanchi-mostly asattu ammanji-we had a nice time in a village near Srirangam.Even during college days there was not much noticeable change-the same mamas going to kollidam at 5 A. M, mamis running to the 'vaasal' soon on hearing some bullock cart or horse cart sound-vannaan and vannathi street ,devaradiyaal street etc etc.Once in a way seeing dead bodies taken to kollidam, followed by hundreds of weeping relatives.Except radio there was no relaxation.As we could not afford Rs 3 to paattu vadyar, I learnt many songs when pattu vadyar came to the neighbour's house and I used to listen through the window holes.Arattai of both mamas and mamis were famous in outer prakaram of temple.After each gossip it will be followed by the usual suffix'Namakku en vambu?"( why should be bother)
    I learnt the niceties of life after coming to madras in 1963.As I joined the bank slowly I had an inclination to learn more about money, banking and accountancy though I was a science student.My looks never changed-even today with a normal saree with double nose stud.Attitudinal change is really phenomenal- a replica of a mami I have described.
    Jayasala 42
     
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