Monday, December 28, 2009

In the Chromo Today: അയലത്തെ ഇയെങ്ങര്ക് മൂന്നു കൊമ്പ്

At the Chroma store in New Bombay today I see this rare sight. It’s an Iyengar, a very distinguished looking gent – yes I can make this out from the three vertical lines on his forehead – in a longish angavasthram and bordered with red and green strip stippled with gold filigree work. His top half is bare except for an end of the vasthram drawn around his neck. He looks learned and I could guess immediately that he wore that dress out of conscious choice, not as a gimmick, and looked graceful in it. I almost break out into a Malayalam ditty we sang in our school. (Pardon my insolence, please, if I sound that, by any chance. I have no intention of hurting the sentiments of my Iyengars friends. We had a very generous Iyengar family as our neighbour in the suburb of Chembur and I owe a lot to them.) The ditty goes thus:

വീടിലെ പശുവിനു രണ്ടു കൊമ്പ്
അയലത്തെ ഇയെങ്ങര്ക് മൂന്നു കൊമ്പ്

Veetile pashuvinu randu kombu
Ayalathe Iyengarku moonnu kombu!

Roughly translated, it reads thusly:

The household cow has two horns
The neighbouring Iyengar has three horns!

(The Iyengars can be distinguished from their equally venerable cousins, the Iyers, by the three lines they draw vertically on their foreheads with sandal paste. Hence, the horn analogy.)

This rather distinguished Iyengar has hair as white as snow and his angavasthram was also thusly coloured (hm, if white can be called a colour). I would place him somewhere as, at least, Chief Financial Officer, in a blue-chip company which offers a lot of perks. Anybody with the name of Iyer or Iyengar just shoots to the top is my theory, just like thairu-sadam shoots to the brain soon after it is imbibed. This Iyengar gent went on to buy so many electronic equipment that it boggled my mind to just look at him carrying all those stuff, while my mouth was watering at the light-weight Sony Vaio Zero sitting there like a Kareena Kapoor on the shelf. Oh, why wasn’t I born an Iyengar?

2 comments:

Shastri JC Philip said...

I enjoyed the article, but more so the malayalam saying that you provided with English translation.

Shastri Philip
www.ShastriPhilip.Com

John said...

thanks!