Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid
Lunch is a time in office when we usually talk about various topics. One of our lunch mates had gone on a South Tamilnadu trip (he is from Gujarat). He was telling us about his experiences. He mentioned that he went to Kuthalaam falls. I asked him if he went from Tirunelveli and whether he halted there to see Tirunelveli also. At that point another colleague interrupted. As of now, we will call her V. V for Vendetta.
V asked, “Tirunelveli enge nga irukku?” For a moment, I didn’t know how to react. My fellow colleague answered: “Kuthaalam enga irukku nu keta Tirunelveli pakkathula nu sollalaam. Tirunelveli ye enga iruku nu keta, enna nu solradhu?”
“Kanniyakumari ku North la, Madurai ku South la irukku.”
“Tirunelveli alva ellam saaptrukeenga la? Adhu angendhu dhaan varudhu.”
V couldn’t contain her curiosity about the new place she had just found. She had one more question. “Tirunelveli la alva dhaane irukku. Vere enna irukku?” OMG, what a question? Azhugaye vandhuduthu.
“Pothys and RmKV came to Chennai from there only. Okkara vadisal is a Tirunelveli speciality sweet made during Deepavali. Thoothukudi muthu angendhu dhaan varudhu. SPIC, India Cements ellam anga dhaan irukku. The current owner of Chennai Super Kings is the MD of India Cements – an out and out Tirunelveli person. All of Simpson’s group companies started from there. Lakshmi Venu’s mother is from Tirunelveli.” “Ok, who is Lakshmi Venu?” “Daughter of TVS Venu Srinivasan Iyengar and Mallika Srinivasan Iyer. Mallika Srinivasan belongs to Simpson AnanthaRamaKrishna Iyer’s clan.” “Ok, who is he?” “Higgin Bothams theriyuma? Adhoda original owner.”
Then we gave her some gyaan.
Like many other cities in Tamilnadu, Tirunelveli was also built around a temple. The Nellaiappar and Gandhimadhi temples are ancient and so huge that one can easily get lost inside. The pillars of both temples have very unique features. Most of them are made of 7 different rods, each one emanates one of the 7 musical swaras when hit. The temples also host some of the best sculptures and paintings in South India. Tirunelveli is known as the Oxford of India. Because, from ancient days, it had a lot of well established schools and colleges. Even now it does. It is one of the most prominent areas of agriculture made fertile by one of the biggest rivers in South India – Tamirabharani. It also has very high industrial development in Tamilnadu. The first two tier flyover in Asia was built here. It is also known for its high rate of crime. Veerapandiya kattabomman, Bharathiyar, V.O. Chidambaram Pillai – all hailed from there.
To all this, one reaction…. “Oh apdiya!”
“Ok, you didn’t learn geography properly in school. Forgiven. What about movies?”
Saamy, Padikaadhavan, Kushi, Thamirabarani, Dum Dum Dum, Singam have all been taken with a Tirunelveli backdrop. The first few scenes of Roja were taken in Sundara pandipuram (one of the most beautiful villages of Tamilnadu). Vaa le, po le have become common place in movies. She honestly did not know that it was Tirunelveli slang!! Ok, don’t cry. There is more.
We effortlessly moved from Tirunelveli to Rameswaram and spent some time talking about the wonderful place. I asked him if he saw Pamban Bridge. V was quick to interrupt.
She said, “Adhu thanni kulla dhaane irukku? Adha epdi paaka mudiyum?” This time we recovered immediately.
“Ayyo adhu Ramar paalam nga. Sethu Samudram. Idhu Pamban bridge. Rameswaram is an island. Anga ponum na oru bridge thevai. Adhukaaga engineers kattina bridge dhaan Pamban bridge. Adhunaala adhu thanni ku mela dhaan irukkum”, we informed her.
“Oh, Rameswaram oru island ndradhe enakku ippo dhaan theriyum. India la islands ellam irukka?”
Don’t cry; not just yet.
Then, I asked the guy “Rameswaram poneengale, Abdul Kalam veedu paatheengala?”
He said, “Illai, we did not have time. Missed it.”
“Great person from such a small place la?”
It was time for V’s master stroke. “Oh, Abdul Kalam Rameswaram aa?”
You can cry. Let your tears flow freely. No holds barred.