Let us all take a step back and learn a little more about Santhanakrishnan Venkataraman Iyer’s (S’s) travails (or better put ‘adventures’) in finding the “fair, religious, well mannered, graduate, bride wanted” that he (or rather his parents) wanted for him. After all it was every Tam Brahm’s (or Palakkad Iyer’s to be more precise) true calling in life to find himself “a suitable aambudiyaal” (also called ‘pondaati’ in local parlance, which is apparently derived from authentic Tamizh word ‘Pen-jaati’ which literally means ‘woman species’).
In any case, this post was more about S’s efforts, and subsequent success (or was it the total lack of it) in finding his soulmate in Jayalakshmi Mahalingam Iyer (J, for short). It all started with Page 638, para 3, line 14 of the “Palakkad Iyers Handbook” (which funnily enough doesn’t exist in the written form anywhere, but then Mookupodi Paata (grandpa who uses Snuff Powder) always used to refer to it that way). Now this particular line in the Handbook stated that any eligible Palakkad Iyer ‘ambi’ (loosely translated means ‘younger brother’, also used to refer to ‘young boy’, which is pretty much the standard term for any Palakkad Iyer bachelor) would have to give up his “Brahmacharyam” and embrace “Gruhastam” (meaning ‘get hooked’ or more conventionally ‘get married’) just about around 2 years into his first job.
It was written in S’s horoscope that he would do well at studies and would excel at either basic sciences or engineering (yes, our horoscopes mention course names as well, at times the University names as well) and would be ‘well employed’ with an ability to sustain not just himself and his retired parents, but would also be ready to enter “marital bliss” (the biggest oxymoron of life, how can ‘marital’ and ‘bliss’ be put in the same sentence ever?) by the time S was 28 years old. Added to the irrefutable prediction presented in the horoscope, S’s impending onsite opportunity to Singapore doubled his Appa’s (Venkataraman Sivaramakrishnan Iyer’s) and his Amma’s (Seethalakshmi Ramaswamy Iyer’s) worries.
“Avan ange poyittu yenna saapuduvaan? Singapore le Iyer Maami mess aa iraka poradhu!!! Paavam Ambi verum bread um butter um saaputtu saaputu yelachu poyiduvaan” (What’ll he eat there? Are there Iyer hotels in Singapore or what? Poor Ambi will lose a lot of weight just eating bread and butter). All of these doubts in Appa’s and Amma’s minds stemmed from the fact that they thought S was still a staunch vegetarian. Little did they know that during his engineering days at GCT Coimbatore, S had in fact started off eating non-vegetarian food (‘maha apachaaram’ and ‘daiva kuttham’ in Palakkad Iyer world) and in fact loved Chicken-65 boneless quite a bit. But that story is for another day and another occassion.
In any case, the impending stint at Singapore plus the fact that S was of “marriageable age” as was stated in on Page 638, para 3, line 3 of the Handbook, meant that Appa and Amma had to take necessary steps to ensure that he was well settled before the given deadline. The given deadline, although not clearly defined anywhere meant that as far as was humanly, astrologically and logistically possible, S would have to be married on or before he landed on the shores of “veli naadu” (read overseas). S did try to buy some time by citing the technicality that he would probably never ever land on the shores of Singapore, based on his limited knowledge that no ships travelled between Singapore and India, but his arguments were thrown out of the window (not literally, considering that they were all verbal and not written) and thus reluctantly he consented to having his profile photograph taken by Mani Anna.
Now although Mani Anna was a professional photographer (not a very good occupation among Palakkad Iyers), he was also family, courtesy the fact that he was Mookupodi Paata’s second cousin Velutha Mani Paata’s third daughter Girija Maami’s second son. And this meant that he had to take special care of ensuring that S’s receding hairline from the front, and his greying hair on his left side (courtesy Appa’s genes) were not visible in the pic. This meant that S had to ‘pose’ at a wierd angle as if he had sprained his neck on the right side, and pretending to be unusually happy at seeing something flying over his left shoulder. S had to go out and buy a brand new sky blue shirt (neela color nalla shagunam aakum) and a non-black pant (karuppu color nalla vishayathukku othu kaadhu) just for this picture. In any case, Mani Anna did a reasonably good job of trying to convince S that marriage was not a bad thing after all, or at least managed to convince S about the whole picture not being so bad after all. Net result of all this exercise were 4 different photos with S trying hard to smile and hide his obvious discomfort of the spotlights shining off his receding hairline above his eyes.
As if all this weren’t enough S was also given the arduous task of having to precis write all his life’s achievements in a space of 500 odd characters, which was the maximum specified by ‘Sruthivani’ the Malayalam/English magazine which was where all us Pattars initially advertise our horoscopes for match-making purposes. And the deal with the magazine was that if you paid them a specified amount, they would publish your horoscope there for the entire year or until you actually get married, whichever is earlier. And as an additional bonus, if you actually found a bride using their magazine, all you had to do was to intimate them of this alongwith a wedding photograph, and they would actually publish the photograph with good wishes, and an advertisement proclaiming their achievements of getting together two people who were divinely ordained to be with each other for the rest of their lives. Little did they know that they were actually committing heinous crimes against Pattar boys and girls who were already cursed for being a Pattar, by putting them in the company of another entire family of Pattars, as if they didn’t have enough worries already.
What S puts in as achievements and how his horoscope is discovered by the world outside is story enough for another post. So here’s wishing S all the best in his ‘match-making’ endeavor.