Updated: Sep 14, 2022
In a country with a billion people, there are so many cultures and ideas that anyone crossing almost a thousand miles meets someone fairly distinct from them.
“A Madrasi’s Predicament” by Manognya Bethapudi is an experience narrating the lifestyle of Tamilians from a third-person point of view.
It is a motley group of 30 people all from different parts, places, areas and walks of life. Yet the minute I stand up and say “Hi! I’m Manognya Bethapudi” I knew what was going to happen…
A second look followed by filing me in that part of the brain which was related to Idli, Sambhar and more recently Kolaveri Di..10 seconds into the acquaintance and everyone already expects to know from me that I’m a homely, shy girl with a veshti wearing, ash smearing dark and potbellied man for a father and a Kanjeevaram clad Gold bazaar &horticulture endorsement for a mother; pack in Ranji for a brother and there you go! Its the perfect recipe for a happy little “Madrasi” family from madras but unfortunately they wake up in your neighbourhood every morning to the tune of M. S. Subbalakshmi (obviously).
After they have managed to roll off my phonetic roller coaster of a name (thank god my parents didn’t want to take a mini-pilgrimage whenever they called out to me), we get down to hobbies, likes and dislikes. I mention that I like reading and writing…of course, I didn’t need to mention it because everyone knows that any Madrasi is extremely studious…Personal inclinations are damned.
By the way, I have to congratulate myself because I just got a new home in a place that’s no longer on the map: Madras... No worry if you are from Machilipatnam or from Mangalore, From Karimnagar or from Kanyakumari because you can only come from Madras or compensate for the growing IT industry, Bangalore or maybe even Hyderabad.
Now that you are a stamped-OK Madrasi be assured that anytime anyone who knows of your heritage encounters any word in any language that might even remotely be south Indian(including the tribal language of Andaman) you have to give them the meaning.
One fine day, the topic of discussion was none other than women and their myriad hairstyles. As always it was decided beforehand that I being a Madrasi couldn’t do with other than having well oiled and plaited hair. Moreover, it would be nothing less than blasphemy if I removed even a part of my jewellery (I ask: which) because after all, it was as necessary to live as the air I breathe.
This reminds me of another basic necessity, food. You see, we Madrasis eat only Idli, Sambhar and wada along with hot filter coffee at all times of the day. And as my favourite author “Mr Chetan Bhagat” has kindly pointed out the guests are always offered noise polluting snake savouries. I can go on like this forever with instances of blatant ignorance on the part of fellow Indians who despite liberalization, globalization, Infosys, recession, Unnikrishnan, Dr Devi Shetty and many more, are definitely not ready to accept that a Madrasi a.k.a South Indian is no different than them with the same red blood flowing through their veins and not some spiced up plasma! Let’s hope that in the years to come people accept a south Indian just as they are... not above them and never below them…
This experience is available in paperback & ebook.