Mother Tongue.

The above image is just the tip of the iceberg in India. According to the Census of India of 2001, India has 122 major languages and 1599 other languages. With that background, let me tell you my problem/s.

My late mother’s tongue was a mixture of Malayalam and Tamil spoken by a community called Palghat Iyers. My late father’s was pure Tamil. In deference to the latter’s comfort, the former changed to speaking the Tamil spoken by the latter and so I grew up speaking that Tamil.

What is my Mother Tongue?

My late wife’s mother was a Telugu, and her father was a Bengali. They spoke Urdu or English at home and my wife did not know either Telugu or Bengali.

At our home, we spoke mostly English and Hindi  now,  and our son grew up using both.

What is my son’s Mother Tongue?

My daughter in love’s mother is a Bengali and her late father was a Maharashtrian. She grew up speaking Marathi at her home. She has moved into our home where she too speaks Hindi and English mostly but, Marathi for effect when needed.

Just supposing I get a grandchild what will be her/his Mother Tongue?

How do I solve this conundrum when the census taker comes visiting?

Exceptional Customer Service.

Two local businesses gave me service of exceptional nature including going out of their way to deliver their products at home for me, considering my senior citizen plus vulnerable status. These two businesses however have to remain anonymous but I shall use the names using their initials so that I can send a link to this post to them to convey my gratitude.

The first one involves many people. I wanted a Kerala speciality normally not available in local shops and thought it best to approach a friend in Mumbai PJ, who had relatives in Pune to get information of a shop that would sell this speciality. He promptly got it for me from his relatives here, with the shop’s phone number. I rang up the shop and spoke to the owner. Mr F in Malayalam and expressed my need to him. I also enquired if he could arrange for home delivery explaining my situation to him. He promptly assured me that he would arrange for home delivery and he made good his promise by late evening. I thanked the person who came to deliver and discovered that he was Mr.R, the brother of the person that I had spoken to and that they were both partners in the shop.

To say that I was zapped is an understatement.

The next one was even more strange. I wanted something that is typically Maharashtrian and found a shop that sells this in the heart of our city. I rang them up and spoke to the owner HH and after exchanging of a few WhatsApp messages, I placed an order to be despatched to me by Indian Post’s Speed Post service.

The next morning, I received a phone call from HH who said that he was very near my residence and wanted directions to it so that he can deliver the material that I had ordered. He duly came and delivered the package after showing me various options that he had brought with him. I placed a further order on him which he said he would deliver again when he next came near my neighbourhood which he did regularly to visit some others for personal reasons.

Here again, I was overwhelmed with the consideration shown by the young man.

This is my little way of expressing my gratitude to these four people who came to my rescue during difficult times.

I hope that this inspires some others to write about good customer service and to inform the people who extended the same.

The Law Of Attraction?

The Jack in the jack fruit is derived from the Malayalam word Chakka for it. It is one of my all time favourites and I gorge on it whenever it is available. I love to eat the fruit as well its seed after boiling and removing the hard cover from the seed. One of the reasons that we don’t get much of it in many homes is the mess one makes while removing the outer cover to get at the wedges.

During the lockdown, our help were not coming to work and I thought that I would at least get the seeds from a dear friends and ex colleagues from Kerala who has a few trees growing in his garden in Kerala. While they were ready and only too willing to oblige, the courier companies and the post office unfortunately were not willing to accept packages for destinations in our state. So, I had to inform them that I shall bug them next year by which time hopefully the lockdown would have been removed everywhere.

I still craved for the seeds in particular and I think that this is where the Law Of Attraction kicked in. My daughter in love’s mother had procured two fruits and today, one of them was cut open by one of the maids who has been allowed to come to work. The surprise was that the fruit was from a tree in the garden of my daughter in love’s maternal home in Pune. I got my wish fulfilled and these seeds shown here are about to be boiled and covers removed so that I can have my favourite snack.

Visiting Parents.

In my extended family of siblings and cousins both maternal and paternal, I am one of the rare ones who lives with his offspring. Something that was unthinkable during my parents’s time and well into my adulthood as well. Both my parents stayed with their children during their retirement stage and died while resident with one of the children. Today, if I look at my immediate family, none of my nephews and nieces stay with parents and the parents one of whom is single, live separately.

While this is increasingly getting to be the norm here, there are constant messages on WhatsApp and facebook about the necessity for the grown up children to spend time with their parents. This is one such video showing an adult male going to visit his widowed mother. The language is Malayalam, spoken in our Southern state of Kerala. There are no subtitles but, the story line is easy to follow despite that. Pulls all the right strings! I regret that I am unable to give credit to the maker/s of the film as I am unable to find details.

The Scars.

I was badly in need of a massage after a recent 300 km round trip to Navi Mumbai. For those who do not know where that is, it is Marathi for New Bombay. A sprawling collection of towns on the mainland across from the island of Mumbai. I had to go there on a family matter.

I had been recommended an Ayurvedic Massage by a friend. For information on Ayurveda, please visit this site.


There is one attached to a popular local hospital and I fixed an appointment with the masseur and with great excitement, landed up there.

The massage was all that it was hyped up to be and the trained masseur knew his trade well. I came out feeling completely relaxed and refreshed and will indeed go back often.

This post however is not about the massage. It is about the masseur asking me during the massage about my two scars on both upper thighs. They are the left over signs of four surgeries for hip joint replacement and revisions. I don’t even notice them, but for the masseur this must have been a frightening experience! He needed to know so that he would not do any harm while massaging me around that area. I explained the background and asked him to proceed.

He did. After a few minutes however, he sort of hemmed and hawed and asked me why I had to get my hips replaced. I said that I had fractured them. Further discussions went on like this, in Malayalam, a South Indian language:

Masseur: How did you fracture them? Car accident?

I: No, you do not want to know.

M: No, no, I do want to know. I am very curious. I have never seen such big surgical scars before.

I: Forget it. Just leave it alone.

M: No sir, please sir, I am very curious.

I: Okay, since you are so persistent, I jumped out of a second floor apartment.

M: Aiyyayyo! (That is an exclamation in Malayalam, somewhat like Dear! Dear!!) Why did you do that? Fire?

I: No, but again, I do not want to talk about it.

M: Please sir, don’t stop now. I am itching to know the reason.

I: Okay, you asked for it. Because the husband came.

Pin drop silence, no massaging and just the gentle noise of the fan above.

I: Go on, why have you stopped the massage.

Massage starts. No further discussions.

After the massage, the bath, steam etc, I came out feeling like a Million Rupees, to find our man waiting for me near the door.

M: Sir, seriously, did that happen?

I: But of course. I told you not to persist, but you did and now you do not believe me.

M: Sir, I believe you but, I just want to tell you that when you do bad things, bad things will happen to you. I hope that now you do not do bad things.

I: No, I do not do any bad things. I just find them on the ground floor.

I walked out.

I wonder what direction the discussion will take when I go back again for a massage.

For those of you skeptics, please find a Malayali anywhere and ask if such a discussion can take place between two Malayalam speaking people. I would appreciate any Malayalam reader of this blog vouching for the authenticity of that possibility.