Top Technology Trends That Transformed Tamilnadu This Tecade

The first decade of the new millennium has come to an end. As a reader, you are typically presented with a whole cornucopia of ‘Best/ Worst of the Decade’ features on every Tom’s newspaper, Dick’s magazine and Harry’s Pottery website. ‘Top 10’, ‘Five most important’, ‘20 greatest hits’. And so on. If the feature is not a list of some sort, it is probably a retrospective where people who believe that bullet points and pictures are for noobs (The Hindu, for e.g), write lengthy paragraphs that meander about the decade like a Dr Who, flitting between subjects, space and time.

While there are columns galore on the subject of the top technology trends of the decade, and the greatest inventions of the past year and so on, nobody has explored the top technology trends that have radically, yet subtly changed life in Tamil Nadu. Things that we now take for granted but never accorded the pomp and fanfare that they deserved when they were introduced.

The Multifunction Mantra box

A truly game changing device that bought religious erudition to the masses, this low-cost device provided, at the press of a button, the voice of Bombay Sisters chanting the Mrityunjaya mantra (and many more) in glorious low fidelity. This path breaking invention rendered obsolete the need to be initiated and introduced to the mantras that (if one is of that religious persuasion) govern one’s entire life. This is the Douglas Adams’ Electric Monk for the Religious. In financial trouble? No worries. Just hit the Lakshmi Sthothram button and outsource your prayer to a low cost device. FC Kohli, the man who pioneered the Indian IT industry would have been proud. A closely related invention is the Gayatri Mantra door bell. If one has trouble meeting the stringent requirements of having to chant this a minimum 108 times a day, this doorbell is a lifesaver.

While the Mantrapod is not available yet, you can always buy the “Hindu ipod” here

The Kosubat – The citizens of Madras have always had an uneasy co-existence with mosquitos. The previous decade was spent being cheated by those unscrupulous companies that peddled “mosquito mats” that we later realized were literally what they were called, mats for the mosquitos to sit on and have a spot of evening tea.

Our anti-mosquito weaponry was severely limited at the start of this decade, with Tortoise coils being the only effective option. The problem with the smoke that these infernal coils generated was of that they didn’t do a good job of distinguishing between their need to suffocate mosquitos and simultaneously allow human sleepers to breathe. Redemption arrived eventually in the form of a tennis-bat shaped plastic framed weapon of mass-quito destruction, a metaphorical Hammer of Thor that vanquished these pesky critters with a wave of the hand. The Kosubat also made us all the Pol Pots of the mosquito universe. We actually have fun indulging in their genocide on a daily basis, watching them fry like popcorn between the high voltage metal strings of this lifesaving device.

ps: The term “Kosubat” was coined by Lavanya Mohan

The Share Auto – For many decades, the good citizens of this city were held ransom by autorickshaws that were hell bent on making largish dents in one’s life savings in exchange for a ride from Panagal Park to Pondy Bazaar. But then came the Share Auto, a box shaped, unstable moving object that could cram more people in than a Neutron star could cram atoms, and for a mere Rs. 15, transport the cost conscious Chennaiite from Loyola College to Avadi.

The Handheld Yagna Smoke Blowing Fan – For millennia, priests used handmade fans to blow smoke from yagnas. These fans were an extension of the priest’s hands and were expert at directing smoke straight into my eyes as I went about finding locations in my home where I wouldn’t go blind and suffocate to death. But by the middle of this decade, tech savvy priests, apart from flaunting Nokia N-Series smartphones, were also blowing smoke using miniature, battery operated fans. While it might not seem like much, this humble introduction of technology into day to day religious ritual was an inflection point, the moment when technology entered the temple. Booking archanas online, LED kutthuvalakkus, automatic beat-generation and bell-ringing machines at temples followed quickly after. Perhaps in a couple of years, my family priest’s junior assistant will carry a Kindle, loaded with mantra pdfs. Perhaps Indian guilds in World of Warcraft will conduct Ashwamedha Yagnas before going on quests.

This emerging aesthetic is…. Tampunk. Tampunk devices, to quote Sottai

  • might be powered by fumes from sacrificial fires. Therefore, Tampunkers have to carry compressed cowdung cakes and igniters to
    generate necessary smoke.
  • are always heavy, always ugly, with fantastically mismatched colour schemes
  • Leopard print Earmuffs (as Karthik Krishnaswamy suggests)
  • Uranium Powered Kosubats (DC powered for now)

So what else do you think defines the Tampunk genre?

Note: A shorter version of this piece appeared in the New Indian Express today

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42 replies

  1. The camouflage or leopard-skin or polka-dot patterned earmuffs that seem to be everywhere (in Tamil Nadu, that is) now. I’ve been seeing them all over Chennai, as well as when I visited Kodaikanal last week. Pure Tampunk.

  2. Thanks for the Kosubat Credit :D I’ve applied to the Webster Dictionary for an addition, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet :P

  3. does anyone use a gayathri matram ring tone or better still…. message alert?

  4. Awesome, as always. Loved the volume settings on the mantra-pod !!

    The Kosubat brings back some fond memories. Back in 2006, when the Kosubat was just proliferating Tamil Nadu markets, a friend passed it off as his own invention for a New Product Design course in college . The prof, being a Tam, was obviously thrilled and amazed and even went so far as to discuss it with his family over dinner. Whereupon his more tech-savvy 10 year- old son promptly informed him that he had already spotted prototypes of this break-through technology in the market !! Needless to say, all hell broke loose and the next day’s class was memorable, to say the least.

    P.S. The Prof was more hurt by the revelation that his 4th standard kid was technologically superior to him than the fact that he had been taken on a ride !!

  5. Oh, do I want that Mantrapod!

    Darth Vader doing the ‘Om Namo Narayanal’ with Temple Binaurals : holy moly. :D

  6. Loved the mantrapod! I have seen a couple of houses on my flat with that perennially plugged in. (That’s why I stopped going there for Golu).
    There’s also the Kosu-racket. Not just the Kosubat!

  7. Kindle with mantra pdfs may seriously not be too far away. Our vadhiyaars are quick adopters of tecknology, I say!
    and wish you and your readers a happy new year, KA.
    May we see lots of posts on your blog this year :-)

  8. Indian guilds in World of Warcraft will conduct Ashwamedha Yagnas before going on quests!!
    ROFLMAO, awesome man!

  9. Vadivel and Darth Vader were total LOL types.. What happened to the Darth Vadiyaar? :D

  10. Ayyo, boss.. I’m new to ur blog. Fantastic.. I’ll be following ur page..

  11. 30 rs one day pass, for vetti pasanga like me this is some divine sent gift, it does not mean technology but invention of decade…Eppadi ellam plan panni eludhuringe Mr.Ashok, you have hell of a talent (vocabulary(all lang’s as i observe)+pictures and stuff+humour) that’s some cocktail.

  12. Since no one chronicled the inventions that happened for all these bygone decades, you should probably have a post of inventions that created the chennai civilization that we know today..much like the wheel that summed up the modern man..

    Things like

    Viking jatti sticker that also doubles up as fan regulator decorator

    Rastaali pazham that also doubles up as oothubathi stand

    Azhukku Poonal that also triples up as itch scratcher and back mudi puller

    Old ponds dabba that doubles up as pathtu paisa collection holder

    Slim and gold plated pen in most cotton white shirts of old aged retired mamas which are taken out only to shock and awe us by proving that an unassuming pen is indeed not a pen but a vellazhuththu kannadi holder

  13. Sir,

    Ungaathula ellarayum sirika vachiite irupelaa?? Superb sir. Redemption, Unstable object, tech savy priest ……Esp ‘the hindu’ vidamaateengale :)

  14. Quite an interesting posting…missing chennai and dunno what is Darth Vader!!!

  15. Ok, I dont get the Tamil/Chennai references but I really loved this piece. Cheers!

  16. chanceless, samma comedyana post…kosu bat & mantrapod lol…am speechless to comment….yenna language pa…krishashok – (in 3 idiots style) – jahaanpana, tussi gr8 ho!!!

  17. I once had a sheepish incident around the “automatic beat-generation and bell-ringing machines at temples” device. Was at a temple, watching a friend’s wedding and allovasudden there was this eardrum-perforating din….of drum-beats & cymbal-clanging, to a tune as well! I instantly turned round to the nadaswaram-ppl. and commanded them to stop making an infernal racket but to my chagrin, the were nowhere near their instruments.

    On looking all around, spotted the aformentioned device attached atop a pillar and clanging away! I was told it is timed to go off at a set intervals and no doubt it had a ‘snooze’ feature as well :P

    Of course, there was the ubiquitous “Donated by Mrs. and Mr. Parthasarathy Munnisaamy Iyer” board below it!

  18. Mantrapod is too innovative…
    enjoyed it a lot

  19. Super post!! Loved the kosubat, infact didn’t even know it existed!
    And congrats on being Indian Expressed :-)

  20. Kosubat certainly can make killing a sport. Can have serious implications…

  21. A great new year to you and yours.
    Your posts have brought smiles.
    Ashok: Thank you :)

  22. mantra boxes with different voices ! I was imagining and laughing how it might sound.. good for mimicry

  23. Whilst in the topic of kosubats, this beats them all
    http://www.todayandtomorrow.net/2010/01/07/mosquito-catcher/

    Ashok: Haha. The comments there say that it’s a bit of an overkill. I say it’s overgrill

  24. I used to like the mosquito bat too. But can u please advise me about the karmic effects of using such weapons, as against, say, repellants? What about the weight-shedding effects of the Share Auto (isn’t it SharED Auto?)??

  25. superb… :-D mantrapod is my favourite..kosubat a close second..the zoomed in pic of the mosquito on the mosquito mat was too cool…

  26. What about walkovers (The ridiculously dangerous and simran iduppu thin flyovers) that have cropped up everywhere

  27. kalakkal !!!!! Vadivel and Darth Vader rock! ROFLMAO !!!

  28. Heheh…just moved to Chennai…seems I’ve lots to look forward to…

  29. My priest uses an iPad!

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