The precis of Santhanakrishnan Venkataraman Iyer’s (S’s) achievements went thus –
I am a graduate in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Govt College of Technology, Coimbatore (Batch of 2001), and have been employed with Infosys Technologies, Bangalore since September 2001. Am an avid follower of cricket, voracious reader, keen listener and connoiseur of Carnatic music, and enjoy Tamil movies a lot.
Am looking for a fair, religious, well mannered, graduate who is good at household chores.
Other personal details about me: Complexion – fair, Height – 178 cms, Weight – 60 kgs, no bad habits, never been engaged/married
before, strictly vegetarian.
Now while all of the above seemed to suggest that S was the perfect eligible Pattar Ambi, the fact was that some of the above points were mildly distorted. For example, voracious reader was meant to include only syllabus textbooks (that too only 2 nights before actual exams), no bad habits was supposed to include the phrase “except smoking and social drinking” and strictly vegetarian was supposed to include the phrase “in the presence of immediate family members”. Apart from these small errors or missing links, the rest of the paragraph was absolutely true.
Armed with the wonderful picture taken by Mani Anna and a dot-matrix printout (yes, the Internet Cafe (pronounced kay-ffff) had only a dot matrix printer) of the paragraph, Venkataraman Sivaramakrishnan Iyer (Appa), Seethalakshmi Ramaswamy Iyer (Amma) and S were sitting in a train to Thrissur where the publishers of Sruthivaani, the match-making magazine was located. And since Thrissur was only around 45 mins away from Guruvayoor a trip to the temple was mandatory. In fact, Amma came up with this brilliant idea of actually taking the photos, the horoscope and the fateful paragraph to Guruvayoor first, get it blessed by Guruvayoorappan and then submit it with the publishers.
So there they were, in Guruvayoor, sometime in mid-March 2007, bang in the middle of the hottest summer month that Kerala had seen for 4 decades. Appa and Amma didn’t seem to mind that they had to stand in a queue which pretty much extended till the naked eye could see. Amma and S were constantly chanting “Krishna….Guruvayoorappa!!!”, only difference being Amma’s chants were with pure unadulterated (nooru shatavidam Agmark) faith whereas S’s chants were more of “Oh God, why me and why now!!!” because his feet had developed blisters due to the heat on the newly laid tar road lining “Thekkenada” (East entrance to the temple). Appa as usual maintained a dignified silence apart from the “apaswaram” humming to some good Yesudas song playing from one of the many cassette shops on the street. In any case, S was thanking his stars that both Appa and he had used the Denim deoderants today, considering the number of topless men and the sheer volume of sweat in that queue on that day.
After a pretty uneventful three hours and a “nalla darshanam” later, the three of them had horrendous Paper Roasts at Venkateshwara Tiffin Home (“endha yennai potaano theriyalai, vairellam oray kada muda pannaradhu“) and were in the non-A/C Ambassador Taxi to Pushpagiri buildings in Poonkunnam, Thrissur. About the fact that they were in a non-A/C Ambassador Taxi and not any other vehicle, well, that is material enough for another post in itself which will be dealt with at a later stage.
In any case, Appa knew Vaidyanathan Athimber, who apart from being Appa’s cousin (courtesy Mookupodi Paata’s younger brother Balakrishnan Chittappa Paata’s third daughter Santhilakshmi Athai’s husband), also doubled up as an ‘amateur astrologer’ who did the preliminary screening of S’s horoscope. After around 10 odd minutes of intense concentration on the horoscope he looks up at S and tells him “Ambi, kallakute po!!! Ippadi oru shudda jadagam, oru raasiyaana jadagam paathu romba naalachu. Unakku Mahalakshmia polay oru ponnu kadaippa, adhukku naan guarantee” (My boy, you have outdone yourself!!! I haven’t seen such a spotless horoscope in a long time now. You will get a bride as auspicious as Goddess Lakshmi”). Little did Vaidy Athimber know that his prediction was pretty much correct except that S ended up with Jayalakshmi instead of Mahalakshmi. But then, he was only an ‘amateur astrologer’
The interesting thing about Vaidy Athimber was that he also worked with Sruthivaani which meant that once the preliminary screening was done, Athimber pulled out a receipt book and asked Appa to pay Rs 237.50/- only, not a paisa more not a paisa less. When Appa paid Rs 250/- (due to lack of exact change), Vaidy Athimber insisted on returning Rs 12.50/- stating “Indha vishayathulla romba professional aakum naan” (I am extremely professional in these matters). “Enakkum Venkatramanukkum innaya varikkum paisa vishayathilla endha chandaiyum vandhathillai, theriyuma” (Venkataraman and me have never had any monetary disputes till date).
‘Official work’ being done, Appa and Vaidy Athimber were sitting on the “thinnai” (stone bench) outside and smoking away on their Scissors cigarettes with S sitting with them trying to gather as much “ooru vambu” (local gossip) as he could. After a while S got bored with the ‘vambu‘ and just started looking around when he suddenly spotted a girl on the opposite balcony sitting on the floor,
with her mother helping dry her wet hair. Little did he know that this was going to be the first of many more such sightings of this particular girl.