Sunday, 26 July 2009


I knew it was too good to last – my wholehearted admiration for the Mayor of Chennai when he had distributed saplings at his son’s wedding.

I had read in the papers the announcement made by him much earlier that babies (born in Corporation hospitals only) who were given pure Thamizh names would be rewarded with gold rings. We had all laughed then. But the first set of rings was distributed last week.

I have nothing against Thamizh names – they are as good as any other.
First, as Juliet famously asked, ‘What is in a name?’
Second, it is not the love of Thamizh that has motivated parents to give their children Thamizh names. Only the thought of a gold ring at the end of it - which, I am sure, will be hawked, pledged or sold to meet different expenses of the family, including the father’s visit to the local Tasmac (state sponsored wine) shop.
Lastly, the babies are now reduced to being equated with films – Thamizh films with Thamizh titles/names are exempted form entertainment tax.

Anyway why make this distinction among babies?

And why gold rings, which the babies can neither enjoy nor appreciate!

Why did not the Mayor give them all a special scholarship to see them through their school days. Education may be free, but children need books and uniforms. A fund for this would have been better.

Anyway we had better prepare ourselves for a generation of youngsters who may not even pronounce their names properly. The zha sound in ‘thamizh’is difficult for many to pronounce and is often pronounced as ‘l’, (which is why I suppose the British mutilated it to 'Tamil’).
We will have hosts of Thamilselvans and Thamilselvis, and not Thamizhselvans or Selvis.

Thursday, 9 July 2009


The thamboolam is a mandatory take home at all Indian festivals and ceremonies, at weddings especially. The thamboolam bag (made of plastic, cloth or some polyester fibre, rarely of paper) contains a coconut or grapefruit, a couple of betel leaves, a packet of betel nuts – all auspicious tokens.

I don’t know what others do, but when I come home with the thamboolam, I put away the betel nut packet to be passed on, throw away the betel leaves which have started wilting, and use the coconut to cook. The bag if sturdy enough, will be reused as a carrier bag, that is if one doesn’t mind being the publicity person for the caterer. I have often felt that the fancy bags are a waste - especially when I see the grandeur of the bags – so much money spent on things no one really wants.

Long before the advent of plastic, the thamboolam was packed in ordinary paper bags on which the bride and groom’s names were printed. As plastic came into vogue, thin bags were used. Little by little the bags grew in size and show…….

So I was heartened when I read this news. Mayor of Chennai M. Subramaniam introduced an innovative concept at the wedding of his son recently, one that can be emulated by all. He gave away as thamboolam 3000 saplings to his guests to take away and plant. This delighted all environmentalists and eco-conscious citizens – zero pollution, plus greening.

The saplings are all avenue trees, and he had made arrangements with a nursery for the saplings to be readied by the time of the wedding.

I loved it, and I am sure GVK, fellow blogger, who has been pushing for distribution of saplings on all possible occasions will too. Many of us can follow this trend.