Madrasi Machi

A small checklist for the fair brethren who live north of the Vindhyas

1. Abe tu south ka hai? Tu tho Northie diktha hai.

Melanin deprived people do exist in the South as well.

2. Abe tum logon ke heroines moti hothi hai yaar.

Yes. They tend to be normal, pleasant women who lead normal lives and eat like normal human beings do. When we do feel like watching expressionless bimbos dance item numbers, Tamil directors import maal from the North. Its called cultural exchange.

3. Abe tum log roz idli dosa khathe ho?

No. Normally the batter used to make idlis takes a day or so to become “Dosa” ready. So it’s very unlikely that we eat both idli and dosa on the same day at home.

4. Yaar. Madrasi bolke dikha

Saroja Samaan Nikaalo.

5. Yaar. Tum log Hindi kyoon nahin bolte ho

Because the following sentence cannot be translated into Hindi.

Gumtha lakara gumma, idhu vangi kada summa

So we find it semantically and expressively limiting.

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24 Comments

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  1. News channels often air segments with people speaking in Hindi without English subtitles. Annoys me greatly since I don’t know Hindi and I have no use for it.

    1. The great Hindi-as-a-national-language debate : I am a Bengali and I stand by it, if you are an Indian and you feel you have no use for its national language, you should not be annoyed at the inconveniences. That is irrespective of what you think of Hindi’s suitability.

  2. During my short six month stint in bangalore I heard quite a few north-south distinctions made as part of regular conversation. Perhaps I had heard similar things in Delhi and Kolkata, but I cannot recollect this sort of thing impinging on my consciousness more than it did at Bangalore.

    It was not a north “versus” south thing (at least most times) but a consciousness (and expression) of the distinctions between the two. Funny thing I heard it from both sets of people on either side of the vindhyas.

    I wonder if you had a similar experience during your time here in Delhi (with the polarities reversed obviously).

    I am disappointed by it all to be honest. Just goes to show, I suppose, how the Aryan theory of language stretched to ethnography continues to polarize this country. The aryan invasion theory is well and truly debunked. Gene-drift profiling indicates that people of the Indian sub-continent are genetically similar with clear differentiation from other peoples.

    Some exposure to the sun and it will be impossible for anyone to tell if I am bengali or keralite. But maybe my opinions do not count since I am from the east of the country.

    Sorry for the rant. Just had to get it off my chest.

  3. Abhishek,

    Obviously, this whole north-south division thingie is plain nonsense. We are all genetically one .There is in fact an even more powerful underlying commonality in us Indians. Something that cuts across languages, castes, regions etc. It is the ability to take what is truly a small, trivial issue (like language or a caste) and convert it into a topic of global debate 🙂

    This piece if of course, directly inspired by real questions I was asked when I shifted from Chennai to Delhi in 1992.

    What struck me was then was the complete ignorance my classmates had of the south. Of course, south indians are equally ignorant of the north as well, but one doesnt realize these things till one really moves around.

    But I cant resist one last round of blatant, cliched generalization:

    The north fights, the south works, the west earns and the east talks.

  4. hahaha.. good one.. i can totally relate to it..

    some samples of what i get..
    arrey.. tu tho ithna fair dikthi hai, bilkun madrasai jaisi nahin..

    “speak something in south indian na…”
    like the other side of vindhays is one big happy state!! they take pride in their abysmal ignorance as wel..

    the other thing which always pissess me off, is
    oh my god, u speak good english for a south indiaN!!! [yea watever!!! ]

  5. Being north Indian, married to a Tamil (who lived in Pune), with almost all Bengali friends, I do agree the following is pretty close to the truth.

    “The north fights, the south works, the west earns and the east talks.”

  6. for a south indian who spent only 5 years in south india, i consider all northie-generated comments on southies to be juvenile, and sometimes below the belt. “sambaar in the morning?” taunts r more condescending than ignorant. ‘madrasi’ takes the cake…!

  7. Super machi – I can totally relate to this.

    My favorite ignorant comment/question is from a Punjabi dude who was living temporarily in South India and had to go to the US Consulate in Chennai. He was complaining that Chennai auto drivers didn’t know where to go when he told them “Visa Consulate jaana hai!”

  8. nice post KA. me being Tamil challenged, you have to explain to me what does the answer to last question mean (gum tha…)

  9. All I say is – If every southie south of Maharshtra is a Madrasi, every Northie north of Maharashtra is a Bihari 🙂

  10. Please consider this comment a standing ovation from me to this post in particular and your blog in general 🙂

  11. Brilliant stuff. I came across your blog rather late (err..two weeks ago) but am loving every post you’ve written! I can especially relate to this one since I am one of the tambrahms who lived north of the vindhyas and am a little short in the melanine department. Weirdly, when I first came to Chennai, people made me pronounce Vazhapazham everytime and would wonder how i could get the ‘-zhs’ correct. Hahaha!

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