Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rants of the Middle Class Madras Maami

It is an age old tradition of (some) Chennai Maamis (and some Mamas as well) to go around the neighborhood and sneakily and shamelessly gather flowers from others' gardens for their Gods. Chandran's parents (of R K Narayan's Bachelor of Arts fame) were once victims to this and to this day these Maamis continue to harass innocent, friendly neighbors. Here are some 'Flower Thief Maamis' archetypes:

1. Smooth Saroja: She walks in for a friendly chat, 'Ungathula enna samayal...' and drifts into, '...Enge Brahmanan la Cho sonnar paathela...' and all the while she walks around and gathers flowers that she neatly tucks into her saree pallu... once this is done, she leaves with, '... neenga busy-ya irukkael, naan apparam varen..' and sometimes manages to borrow some coffee powder or sugar along the way.

2. Mystery Meenakshi: She wakes up before the world and does a round of the neighborhood gathering all the flowers she wants. No one has ever spotted her till date. No matter how early you set your alarm, she always beats you! We don't know how!

3. Sneaky Sundari: She has chalked out her plan across different neighborhoods for each day of the week. She typically sneaks behind the compound wall and quietly picks all the flowers that happen to hang outside the wall while the household is busy with the morning routine. If someone happens to pass by, she quickly bends down to examine the grass and weeds on the pavement with a zest unknown even to a Botanist. She doesn't meet your eye.

There are many more I am sure.

One such Sneaky Sundari was caught red handed recently when my MIL happened to be watering the plants. It was embarrassing since it was a neighbor - she must have felt guilty since she said (and had the temerity to say), 'I'm only taking what is outside the compound wall'. My MIL being the nice lady that she is said, 'It all goes to God, please take, its ok..' but I was totally annoyed! My MIL toils in the garden every day for 2 hours - anyone who has spent even 30 mins digging in the garden would understand how physically demanding it is. At 65+ she still works hard in the garden (touch wood) and she is so passionate about it. I just can't bear to see the fruits ..err flowers of her labour being stolen this way. I am seriously considering Chandran's idea of building a moat around the house and putting few crocodiles in it!

Btw, last night I saw Sneaky Sundari's car parked outside the compound wall,  and I was so tempted!


Swati said...

ROFL at the last line ..good one !!

But it truly hurts ..all in the name of God..will God accept stolen flowers ?

Jayashree said...

you know, Uma...there are the other kind of people the flat that I live in, there are lots of plants that are planted by the builder, for the common use of everyone....and there's this mami who had the nerve to tell me not to pick any curry leaves 'coz there wouldn't be any left for her.....what did she think, that I was going to uproot the entire plant??? Same goes for flowers....she tells other people that those are "her" flowers 'coz they've been planted in front of her house.

Anonymous said...

even i have a mystery meenakshi neighbour who roams the whole layout for flowers but does not allow even her tenants to grow flower pots.

The Print Lover said...

haha! Mystery Meenakshis are the best.

I am missing mamis after this post :)

Uma said...

Swati - Somehow, people don't seem to think of it as 'stealing'!
Jayashree - Let's call her the Petty Pankajam! :)
Anonymous - In Chennai the owners think that the tenents are wasting water by growing plants!
TPL - You bet! Will feed you more 'Maami Musings' :)

ssstoryteller said...

this one is really good
But yu fail to mention the Mamaas, we had one who would not only pick up the flowers, but gather all the veppam poo...onthe ground...which was inside our how do yu tell them not to take it( happened to be a roadie( they friend of FIL...!!)

Uma said...

SSStoryteller - true, maybe the mamas deserve another post altogether LOL!

apu said...

ha ha. Funny, this post was. Get a dog or even if you don't, hang a 'beware of dog' sign outside - that will scare the thiruttu mamis :)

Uma said...

Apu - :D Am sure the Maamis are adept at handling the doggies if not scaring them... don't you under estimate them.