I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Monday, July 24, 2006

What not to do with a Tam-Brahm Part 2

Do not challenge him in matters Bhindi. Gaurav writes that
"Bhindi has a crunchier and understated appeal. It is more like a targeted attack, with only a few select tastebuds getting any preferential treatment, but that itself is enough to invoke images of paradise."
That's besides the point.

Bhindi irrespective of taste, mode of preparation and visual appeal, is a religion for Tam Brahms. For the benefit of Tams and Mallus reading the blog, I must say that I am not talking of the dot in the middle of a woman's forehead. That's a bindi. (You think that caveat was unnecessary. Read this and this). That is also a matter of religion, visual appeal and mode of preparation. However, most people I know do not lick it off foreheads.

Okay, let's get back to bhindis (sorry for the previous line). Millions of tiny Tam-Brahms drink Farex and eat Bhindis when they are born. So that they can turn into Ramanujam, who ate bhindis on his way to Cambridge (he died soon after). Ramanujam's friend, Hardy, gave Bhindi's their English name. No, not Lady's finger, which was coined by Angulimal and Siddhartha. But Okra. Which was a mathematical symbol in Tamil translated phonetically into English.

Incidentally, while turning into Ramanujams, the tiny Tam-Brahms outgrow Farex but stick to Bhindi. Farex turns into curd-rice, which is more amenable to becoming a ball via a couple of deft wrist-flicks, which can be then thrown into the mouth with alarming inaccuracy.

I was well aware of misfortunes suffered by fellow-travellers on a Tam-Brahm's table, but had no clue about Bhindilove when I challenged one sprightly middle-aged man in Dubai last to last year. He was talking about Ramanujam and Okra, when I said that I don't like the Bhindi dish that he made. He was stunned, but quickly resumed his composure and said that if I didn't like it he will eat it all. Which suited the other two souls in the room quite well.

However, one of the other being a son of a Navy man who likes a good fight, put forth a challenge.


Which is like showing a bull to a red rag. Except the other way round. The red rag accepted and promptly went into his closet. He came back a minute later with two P.G. Wodehouse short story collections and a bib. Adjusting the second on his torso and keeping one of the former on his hand, he set out with gusto.

I believe at the end of forty-five minutes and sixty-five pages (Farex, Curd-rice balls and Bhindi make for better reading speed as well), the entire 560 568 grams had passed through the gullet. We lost the bet.

Since then the gullet has invited us to his house for bhindi sessions many a times. We have refused since we can't hold back our challenges when confronted by okra that can't be eaten by us. Let this serve as a warning for all of you, who have been invited thus.

If you don't believe the extent of passion, read this.
"Normally, vendakkai is a gooey-gooey kind of vegetable which can be expressed admirably in Tamil, "vazhavazha kozhakozha". When housewives made a vegetable from vendakkai and chepankizhangu, it reached the zenith of "vazhavazha kozhakozha". The vendakkai sambar, of course, was an exception and went well with rice and idlis. But vendkakkai and curds, as mentioned by my cousin? It vaguely brought back memories of a long forgotten taste. Then suddenly I got it. Was he referring to vendakkai vadhakki pachadi?...I, certainly would not mind larger helpings."


Update: A friend points out that I make it seem that 8 grams of bhindi (out of 568) was left behind. I apologise for the mistake. The error is unintentional and has been rectified.


Anonymous sashi said...

Dhoomketu, me thiks this Tam Bram okra lurve is somewhat like Bong love for hilsha. I say this not as a Tam Bram, but as someone who likes both okra and hilsha, seperately.

Now, is really okra the secret of Ramanujam's mental enegry? Damn! If only my mom knew, before IIT-JEE she would have fed me an infusion of okra rather than Boost. :)

Monday, July 24, 2006 12:24:00 PM

Blogger Sailesh Ganesh said...


I suppose I can vouch for what you say, being a "TamBram" and all that! I remember being fed vendakkai when I was a kid with the punch-line "this is maths curry!" And I wasnt alone on this.

Well, what else can I say, vendakkai and thayir (curd) is still among my favourites!

Monday, July 24, 2006 1:26:00 PM

Blogger sunshine said...

with all the 'vendakkai sambar' i ate... shud've gotten a nobel prize by now!
lets hope the 'thayir saadam' gets me some place...

Monday, July 24, 2006 1:53:00 PM

Blogger Perspective Inc. said...

Ha Ha Ha

It sort of reminds me of the strange obsessive craving Andhraites have for Aloo fry.. :-)

Monday, July 24, 2006 1:56:00 PM

Anonymous Mithun said...

Farex turns into curd-rice, which is more amenable to becoming a ball via a couple of deft wrist-flicks, which can be then thrown into the mouth with alarming inaccuracy

ROFL ....

Monday, July 24, 2006 3:13:00 PM

Blogger Bombay Addict said...

hilarious piece DK2 ! promptly fwd'ed to colleagues, incl 1 mallu and 1 bong. awaiting reaction and dissection but bong-da was last seen smirking !

Monday, July 24, 2006 8:40:00 PM

Blogger dazedandconfused said...

yeah, this vendakkai being good for mathematical ability rings a bell somewhere...In fact, even karelas and beetroots were supposed to have some paranormal effects.

Me never liked gooey vendakai. I like them burnt black. No wonder...

Monday, July 24, 2006 9:03:00 PM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Sashi, Boost is taking over from Bhindi? How can imperialists be allowed to rule over our culture? I agree with the hilsha comparison, except that many of us have realised that illeesh (hilsa) is too much hard work for too little payoff.

Sailesh, :-). Loved the maths curry bit.

Sunshine, All the best. Do dedicate the award to the 'maths curry'.

perspective inc., don't know much about that, though I do know of the Bangalore ITES sector's obsession with Gobhi Manchurian and Chicken 65.

Mithun, Thanks

B.A., let me know about dissection. I wrote this in about twenty minutes after being reminded about the bet we lost.

Dazedandconfused, does burnt black vendakkai go well with burnt black filter coffee?

Monday, July 24, 2006 9:20:00 PM

Blogger corporate whore said...

top 10 in Tam Bram folklore

1. Thayir Sadam (curd rice)
2. Kris Shrikkkanth
3. Vatthakozhambu
4. Saravana Bhavan / Ganesh Bhavan
5. the BJP
6. Tanjavur / Coimbatore
7. Thayir (minus the sadam)
8. cho ramaswamy / jairam ganesh
9. IIT- JEE leading to IIT Madras
10. PG Wodehouse

Monday, July 24, 2006 10:19:00 PM

Blogger Ravages said...

You stuck up, parochial, communal fellow you! How dare you! Sully the reputation of Tam Brams, will you? What locus standi do you have?
How on earth can you call a Tam bram tiny? Have you even met me? If you had, you would know tam brams are okra eating, thayirsadam eating (curd rice) people, but they are anything but tiny

Monday, July 24, 2006 10:44:00 PM

Anonymous Mowgli said...

Super post!! :)) Better than Virginia Woolf since most ppl wud understand and appreciate it rather than merely appreciate it

U cud have also somehow linked the tam brahm propensity to grow up into problem solving tractors with bhindis and okra and ramanujam .... merely a suggestion :p

Monday, July 24, 2006 11:20:00 PM

Blogger Nilu said...

not to pick or anything, but as a okra loving tam bram, I have to say it's Ramanjan.

and yes, you need to meet ravages.

Monday, July 24, 2006 11:37:00 PM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Corp Whore, I think you have covered Wodehouse, Thayir and IIT. But Bhindi? Meet me for Vendakkai.

Ravages, I had no clue that Tam Brams are born huge. Sorry.

Mowgli, let the tractor remain an underground joke. But thanks!

Nilu, Sorry. And no, I decline, after the threats.

Monday, July 24, 2006 11:41:00 PM

Blogger HutumpaNcha said...

u missed the tam love for valaipalam (banana) in all shapes, forms and in all (in)conceivable cooking styles!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 4:31:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


what is with the tambrahm pronunciation of "hindu"?

- b.s.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 9:04:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

hutumpancha, this was not meant to be an encyclopedia on Tam Brams. It's only a warning to normal people about the Tam Bram's passion for bhindi.

Anon, Yindu? Eendu? Indu? Indoo?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 10:42:00 PM

Blogger Kingsley said...

"vazhavazha kozhakozha"

you know what that reminds me of? The Other Nilu's writing. Wonder why?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 11:41:00 PM

Blogger Hawkeye said...

hindu is kinda of the wrong spelling to acheive the intended pronunciation.

somebody who has no knowledge of english phonetics has spelt it as 'hindu'.

sad. and extremely stupid

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 7:49:00 AM

Blogger tilotamma said...

Hate the stuff myself...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 9:44:00 AM

Blogger Gaurav said...

Funny Nilu too should like bhindi. "Okra" is marathi for "one who pukes frequently". :-)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 8:16:00 PM


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