Madrasi Machi

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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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26 responses to “Madrasi Machi”

  1. Marc Avatar

    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. dicesndots Avatar

      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. Praveen Avatar

      Dai Marc… You are in Pune for over a year now, innum nee hindi kathukalaya da?

  2. Abhishek Datta Avatar
    Abhishek Datta

    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. astroshiva Avatar

    Hi, this is avery humorous piece of writing. I really liked it. Witty answers for the cliched questions.

    Gumtha lakara gumma, idhu vangi kada summa

  4. Ashok Avatar


    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.

  5. Abhishek Datta Avatar
    Abhishek Datta

    Heh. Certainly cannot argue with the cliched generalization.

  6. Smrithi Avatar

    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!!! ]

  7. Aniruddha Avatar

    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.”

  8. krishashok Avatar

    So have you managed to learn Tamil yet?

  9. Anjena Avatar

    “saroja saman nikalo”
    ha ha ha ROTFL

  10. […] 18th, 2007 · No Comments Before I became an Hindi challenged Madrasi in the national capital, I spent 6 years in Chennai mostly trying to get past the strange effects […]

  11. Voracious Blog Reader Avatar
    Voracious Blog Reader

    Gumtha lakadi gumma…..

    Haw haw haw.

    Voracious Blog Reader

  12. jillumadrasi Avatar

    will someone please explain this “saroja samaan nikalo” funda to me.

    I am completely out of it, I know ..

  13. […] asks me, will someone please explain this “saroja samaan nikalo” funda to me. I am completely out of […]

  14. anjana Avatar

    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…!

    1. Sameep Avatar

      what r u doing
      r u in madrash?
      i felel when did i come to india.i feel 2 bore here
      pls send offline massage 21 my id

  15. Anirudh Avatar

    Your post is really interesting. I have especially been asked questions 1,3 and 4 innumerable times in my 18 year stay in the north!

  16. Kraz Arkin Avatar

    For a saauthindiyaan (Malayali), my Hindi is usually far more chaste and accurate than what is spoken around me. And the amazement is obvious. But being a self confessed bigot, I had to throw my ‘superior’ south Indian attitude somewhere –

  17. BR Avatar

    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!”

  18. Ruchir Avatar

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

  19. rlvv Avatar

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

  20. Sujasha Avatar

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

  21. Alter Ego Avatar
    Alter Ego

    Sorry for whoring my blog here..but just wanted to share my adventures with the amits and Geographically Challenged part 2 on the same blog.

  22. Madhumitha Rathnasekar Avatar

    whattey piece! Love it just for the reason I can totally relate to it after being asked the very same questions tons of times, both in India as well as the UK!

  23. Nita Avatar

    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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