Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Tamil Network

Whenever I hear or read about the greatness of social networking, I pooh-pooh it by comparing it to a network of even greater proportions and that is generations old with proven credentials. I like to call it the Tamil Network.

The Tamil Network begins to kick into gear for you when you begin approaching marriageable age, usually around 23-24 years for men and slightly younger for women, though these numbers are seeing a slight increase. The Tamil Network boasts of a nearly six sigma record in ensuring maximum hook ups with minimum divorce rates at an individual speed faster than you can say Getti Melam, Getti Melam.

There was this Jennifer Lopez movie I once saw in which there this highly emotional scene where she finds out that her father had an arranged marriage. She goes up to him, touches him affectionately on the shoulder as if he has shouldered a heavy burden and says almost disbelievingly, “Daddy, you mean you never saw Mother before you married her,” or some such thing. And I’m like, “Hey, that happens here all the time. In fact, here the bride and the groom probably don’t see each other till the morning after the wedding. That’s because they don’t see each other before the wedding, during the wedding they’re too covered up to be able to see each other, and during the first night, it’s either too dark or they’re too exhausted. So it’s only when they wake up the next morning that they realize ‘Ah, so you’re the guy/girl I married yesterday. Nice to finally meet you.’”

When I was growing up, I never understood the concept of love and marrying for love as they would depict in the English films. I couldn’t understand why people would wait till they found their one true love before they married. Moreover, I couldn’t understand why the parents weren’t playing such a crucial role in finding a prospective other for their children. Didn’t they want to get their children married? Why wasn’t the network buzzing? Where was the network?

In Tam-Brahm society, a suitable boy or girl need never worry about finding a suitable match. In fact, one does not even need to be present physically. A well-clicked photograph and an ancient script that contains all details about one’s birth are all the physical tangible items that need to be ready for circulation. The momentum that will raise the demand for these tangible items will be generated by some astounding word-of-mouth (WOM) activity, the kind marketers would give their spouses to achieve. This WOM activity centers on the key nodal points in every family – the ladies. And we have many ladies in our Tamil Network – maamis, athais, paatis, kollu paatis, chithis, periammas – you describe the relationship and we will have a name for it. Henceforth, we shall refer to all these women as maamis.

From daily phone conversations to large social gatherings like weddings, the WOM activity of the Tamil Network is in full swing. It is especially enchanting to sit and observe the Tamil Network in action at a wedding. Groups of varying sizes will be sitting around discussing the next in line now that their latest assets have been married off. Typical conversations at the centre, which will have the maximum maamis, and usually one of the getting-married’s mother, will not be unlike the sample conversation reprinted below. This conversation has been translated from Tamil to English for your reading convenience. Please note that questions usually end with an ‘aa’ sound in Tam-Brahm societies.

“So, now that your son has been married, your daughter is nextaa?”

“Chi chi, she’s only 21. She still has some time to go.”

“But you must start looking for her. It is so difficult to find a good groom these days.”

“Yes yes, it is not enough if he alone is good. The family must also be good. It is not as easy as it was before.”

“Yes, but we want her to finish her studies and find a good job first. Then we will start looking.”

“And nowadays, these children usually find their own spouses. You never know.”

“You know my elder brother’s second son? The one studying at Harvard? He has a roommate in college who is related to my sister-in-law’s aunt’s third cousin on the mother’s side. That roommate has an elder brother who is now of marriageable age. Maybe you could look at him for your daughter.”

“Oh reallyaa? What is he doing?”

“He is working in California in a software company.”

(excited murmuring upon hearing the words California and software company)

(continuing) “He studied at IIT Madras and then went to Stanford University. He is now 29 years old. Their family is also very good. Both parents are in Madras itself, they live in Mylapore. The father is a retired civil engineer, but their family is a rich family with lots of ancestral property. The younger brother is studying at Harvard.”

“But 8 years is a little too much difference, no?”

(murmuring) “Yes yes, he’s 29 and she’s only 21. Plus, she must study and get a good job first.”

“Wait a minute. My father’s father’s second cousin’s first son is looking out for his second daughter. Her mother and I were talking the other day and I just happened to ask what was happening with her second daughter, and she said that she was looking. So I got all the details. The family is from Coimbatore and is actually quite familiar with my husband’s paati from Gobichettipalayam. The girl is 25 years old. She studied commerce in Coimbatore itself and then went to IIM, Bangalore. Now, she is working with a consulting company in Bangalore itself.”

(excited murmurs all around, mother of 21 year old girl glad that her daughter is off the hook but sad that she lost a software engineer in California from IIT Madras and Stanford University)

From here, each resource will report back to their respective sources and the news will spread till the original intended recipients. And then contact will be made, well-clicked photographs and birth details will be exchanged and dialogues will ensue. In case the alliance fails to make it, maybe because the girl wasn’t willing to move to the US or the birth details didn’t match, then the entire well-oiled machinery kicks into gear again and the process is repeated, only this time the entire history of previous attempted alliances and matches will also form part of the introduction of the prospective asset.

The Tamil Network is also one of the main reasons why we have such dedicated workers from the Tam-Brahm community. With the entire need for a love life or finding the right match completely taken over by the Tamil Network and with greater chances of success, the average Tam-Brahm boy or girl is able to devote almost all his/her time to practicing the highest degree of perfection in his/her work. However, it is difficult to find a decent businessman amongst us because businessmen aren’t looked upon too favourably by the Tamil Network. It is better to have a big well-known company name as your employer. It increases your chances tremendously.

Tam-Brahms are never unlucky in love and it is almost impossible for one to die alone. It is not possible that the Tamil Network that is present in the farthest reaches of the world, and is especially strong in India, the US and the UK, cannot find you your one true soulmate. Hey, they enjoy an uncertified six sigma rating, something that the social networking sites of today will be hard pressed to match.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lounge Piranha Live @ Maya

Lounge Piranha played live at Maya on the night of Sunday, June 15. It’s been a while since I heard LP, live or otherwise, so it was a great comeback gig for me. Although sound wasn’t the best, Kamal, Abhi, Rohan and George still managed to put up a pretty good show, sonically as well as visually. There was a ton of new stuff that I haven’t heard before along with enough early days peppering the set intermittently. LP have come a long way in terms of tightness, and considering the amount of time they have spent together, it is heartening to see the camaraderie that is quite evident amongst the band members as well the chord they are able to strike with the crowd, both new and old.

Lounge Piranha is not your usual run-of-the-mill name and hence the music you expect is also not daily stuff. When I first heard LP, the one word that I associated with them was ‘trippy’. Bright colours merging with each other in a dazzling array of fluidity and some substance abuse would make the trip complete. Their music was psychedelic and ambient, yet it had a certain rockiness infused into it.

In the early stages of the gig, I was aghast. LP was sounding quite different from what I had known and there was even a song that sounded like something Thermal And A Quarter would play. But then, The Gun Song came along and with it came the LP of yore. And although subsequent songs saw a certain ambience, the entire gig was starting to sound quite alternative grunge rock, and that is not LP’s sound. They had created a niche and a sound for themselves and they were quickly losing it. Thankfully, towards the end of the gig, they showed that all was not lost and some truly brilliant new material was presented. Song 2 has a delicious Indian sound to it and the rest of the material just envelopes you and caresses your ear. There was a crazy rendition of just a verse of “We Will Rock You” that absolutely won the crowd over.

LP’s sound is definitely developing and it is nice to see the band looking to push the horizon just a little bit farther, but let’s not try to cross the seven seas and lose sight of home now. The band has become heavier and louder and, if I dare say it, more mainstream. But then, the beauty of their music lay in the fact that they could play something that sounded so far out and spaced out and yet present it in a wholly saleable and appreciable form. When you’re playing something that’s not the norm, then experimentation would involve the norm, and it appears to be what LP is currently dabbling in. Experimentation is good and encouraged, simply because it strengthens your belief. And I feel that in the days and gigs to come, Lounge Piranha will not only truly believe in what their original sound is, they will also be able to take that sound international.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Picture Of The Day

A fairly long hiatus requires something special to be broken. That something special for this post has been provided by a very dear friend of mine. This is a picture that I love and that she took during one of our bumbling misadventures through a very crowded market in North Delhi known only as Sadar Bazar.

I love this picture because it looks like time has stood still. This could easily have been a picture from the mid or even early twentieth century. Although there is some denim, trousers and a couple of caps in the background, the two ladies in the foreground immediately capture your eye and startlingly transport you backward in time. It is truly amazing how much the draining of colour can do for a picture. If this picture were in colour, I am sure it would still have been a lovely picture, but I doubt it would have been so hard-hitting.

I have always thought that casual photography is something that just happens. One hasn't really planned ahead, figured out things like framing and lighting and even colour modes. But this friend of mine has shown me with just this one picture, and many others to back it up, that a quick eye and a quick trigger finger can often give even the amateur photographer some startling results. Keep clicking, girl!