When I left my convent school, I thought I had left behind my Tamil connection with it: from the Tamil and Keralite Sisters to the food cooked in coconut oil with curry leaves. Little did I know that some 7 years later that small state will crop back into my life and ‘tamilize’ me more than ever.
It happened where you would least expect it to happen- the UK. When Bharath and I became friends, the closed vaults of south-Indian memories began to open up again. Everything from his accent (!) to the food he cooked, reminded me of my convent. Wait- that was just the beginning. As days passed by, and more people added to our group, I realised that I was drifting into a minority corner as almost all of them were Tamils: Sud – Tamil, Manisha- his g/f (trying all the time to learn Tamil ways) – the fact that she was a non-Tamil, never helped me much. Karthik- super-Tamil: he eats, sleeps and breaths Tamil; Krishanth and Anush (who later joined us)- Sri Lankan (yeah you guessed it- tamil), Anjali- mallu (as if that helped!) -my only ray of hope- Mirrin – north eastern, non-Tamil, from Calcutta- as the profile fit like jig-saw pieces I realised that I’ll always have her with me through this tough phase! Hang-outs became more like staring from one face to another (when they went bantering in Tamil) rather than participating in the chit-chats. The worst part being their refusal to explain those conversations as it would be “lost in translation”.
As my early days of tamilization rolled into its medieval age, I started doing things I never thought I would. Beat that- I went to watch a Tamil movie- in the UK- which happened to be my first movie in the country. And did I mention it had no subtitles? Not that I had leant enough Tamil to understand a whole 3-hour movie of Tamil words coming out of Surya’s mouth like flood water from a dam. Convenient for me Bharath, who had promised to be my translator for the evening quit at the last moment from the post- duh! He had to watch the movie! n a Déjà vu there “it’ll be lost in translation” anyway. Thank you so much.
When my Tamilization hit its maturity curve, I started gorging on sambar, rasam and curd-rice! (The ilish-mach was now long lost) Even when we went out for dinners, I saw myself eating dosas and slurping sambar. So much was my tamilization that I had started to consciously learn words (and unconsciously learn the accent) and could pick bits and pieces from their conversations. One fine morning when I called chocolate – chaaklet, I raised a frown to what has been happening to me (and the frown is still there).
It’s tough even for me to believe that I actually sang a tamil song at a party a few days back! With around 500 Tamil songs on my laptop and 10 Tamil words in my vocabulary and all tamil food items on my meal menus, I think I have touched the peak of my tamilization graph.
Something tells me that it’s not going to change in a very long time!