Sunday, October 28, 2012

Deadly Endearments


Had a hectic but pleasant day. 

My younger sister, V, a good decade younger to me, the one who studied at IIT KGP during 1974-75 for her post-graduate diploma in Industrial Physics, and her husband bought a villa at the other end of Hyderabad and today they were celebrating the house-warming ceremony. And we were invited.

The road map they had given would have entailed a 2-hour drive in hectic city traffic covering a distance of about 60 km each way on two legs of a right handed triangle.

But my son found using Google Maps that a hypotenuse exists and it is just 47 km and all of it on a well-maintained state highway with little Sunday traffic. 

So, it took slightly more than hour's comfortable tension-free drive.

Hats off to Google Maps!

The other evening I called Professor S. H. Rao's home in Hyderabad wanting to speak to him and his Mrs, after about a year. Prof SHR, a decade older to me, had retired after working at IIT KGP for 40 years (like me) and settled in Hyderabad. He had the biggest home library at IIT KGP which he shifted lock, stock, and barrel to Hyderabad. A born book-lover and Chairman of the Central Library at IIT KGP.

As expected, Prof Rao was busy reading and his Mrs lifted the phone. They were our back-yard neighbors at KGP, and my wife and Mrs Rao used to swap my infant son over the common fence. They are distantly related to my wife. And were intimate friends.

The moment I announced my name, Mrs Rao said:

"I was just re-reading one of the Ishani booklets when your call came...telepathy"

For folks like us who spent all their lives in the KGP campus, the Ishani booklets are heavily nostalgic and filled with auld lang syne senti.

Anyway, telepathy or was a proud moment for me...the Achilles' Heel of every 'author'  ;)


There is a district called East Godavary District in AP with its erstwhile capital at Rajahmundry, a historic town on the banks of the broad river Godavary just before it merges with the Bay of Bengal. The town dates back to a thousand years at least and was the cradle of the Telugu language and literature. Also home to Vedic scholars, schools, and Sanskrit literature.  

But it has a unique feature:

People who are born and brought up there, particularly of the Brahmin high caste, hurl mouthfuls of curses at each other. And all of them have to do with death or disaster.

Now, many languages, say, Punjabi have unbeatable and juicy curses of the vilest lineage.

But the specialty of Godavary District is that often these curses are used between close friends and relatives, siblings and family members, when one of them does or says something spectacular or extra-smart.

And they are used almost as endearments. I don't know if such a practice exists in any other language.

Here are some samples:

1. "Nee munda moyya" ("May you get tonsured like a widow")

2. "Ninnu tagaleyya" ("May you be cremated forthwith")

3. "Nee paade katta" ("May you be tied to your bier")

4. "Nee thadu tega" ("May your mangalasutra snap...may you be widowed")

5. "Nee dumpa tega" ("May the bag of your balls snap")

6. "Nee paasu kala" ("May your tract burn")

and so on and so forth...each oath followed by an embrace...queer!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is happening? GPS has not updated for many days. Hope everything is alright.