So it still hasn’t completely sunk in that I’m married. Except maybe when I wash vessels cos its my least favorite thing to do. But marriage does change a lot of things, some of them startling changes. Say, for example, all the maamis and mamas who’ve hardly said a word to me in my so many years of my existence suddenly talk to me like an equal. Well, not really an equal but at least I see them wanting to develop some sort of kinship. You know, swap recipes for paruppusili and aracha vitta sambhar types. I don’t know what the polite way to decline invitation to the maamis’ club is. But when you just smile like a pretty doll and not say too much, they just take that to be coyness of the new bride and let you be. After all, how long can they carry on one sided conversations about where to buy the best puli and paruppu in Bombay and where to go to find the quintessential Tam crowd in the maida maavu city.
I digress. So there seem to be a lot of set rules and rituals that people generally follow to make the new couple feel welcome. Actually, its just for the daughter-in-law cos the boy is anyway treated like a king without kingdom (that actually depends on the dowry he gets and is subjective) wherever he goes. But, the one ritual that I couldn’t make too much sense of was the fact that everyone suddenly invited us to their house for lunch. We tambrahms never invite people over for dinner. Lunch is the first choice, if unavailable, evening tiffin is also acceptable but we never do dinner. I wonder why that is. Lots of people invited us over for lunch. Mostly RC’s people. The nice people that we are, we went to almost all their houses.
When you prepare a Tam lunch for someone who comes over, it invariably is Sambhar, Rasam, Curry, Kootu, Applam and Thayir. You know, like Saravana Bhavan meals types. Some of the over enthu ones also made pachidi and sweets. The problem started here. I don’t like Sambhar or Kootu. I only looked forward to the applam and sweets. In the meanwhile, word had gotten around that RC loved Pushnika kootu and vengaya sambhar (Pumpkin coconutty gravy and Onion sambhar). Since the boy is anyway the king, kootu and sambhar “followed my behind” with such a vengance, I still can’t bear to look at either of it even though we haven’t been fed that in over a month. I must be the only tambrahm on the face of earth that doesn’t like sambhar. I’m tired of explaining myself. Rasam I can have, just not sambhar. But then, people naturally assume that they must be my favorites too cos my husband loves them. So there was this constant pressure on me to make the yummy noises and ask each of them for the recipe of their version of the two dishes.
We South Indians are best known for our hospitality. Its the best. Honestly. But while serving guests food, the hospitality just goes berserk. We can never understand when someone says they’re full or insist that they’ve had enough. We always insist harder that they have some more. Its always a one-up game. Unless they notice some sign of distress on your face or hear uncomfortable sounds from your stomach, they will always insist that you eat more. The best way to avoid landing up with insane amount of food on your plate is to completely cover it up with both hands and almost shield it with your chest. One must be very careful to not give the host even the slightest space to wriggle their way through.
When you’ve eaten so much that you can’t move even an inch, let alone bend down to wear your own shoe, they will offer you a pillow to sleep off the carb coma or the unda mayakkam. After the nap, when you think you just might be able to stand up again, talks of “why don’t you stay back for tiffin” will scare the hell outta you. I never thought the day will come when I will groan at the thought of eating a meal.
In spite of all this, its a good feeling to be the center of everyone’s attention. Its the “Live it up while it lasts” logic, I guess! 🙂