Roots. Day 5

I thank my dad for a lot. Passionate nature – we can fly into a rage and out of it into absolute joy in 60 seconds flat. We care – for everything, people, family, friends, the environment. We are impulsive and haphazard. And we love music. You know that noise that makes a house a home? Dada and I make that noise. The OA and my mum are the moments of silence in between the noise that bind us together.

But most of all I thank my dad for Tamil music. He doesn’t understand most of the lyrics or sing any songs (thank you, boarding school!), but in part I know its his association with Tamil Nadu that drew me to the music. So daddy darling, I might refuse to live in Madras, but for the music I cannot thank you enough. I pick up a word here and there and try to string them together and make sense of it. The music really kicks Bollywood’s ass. (Anyone who is willing to translate a song for me will get paid in chocolate.)

I am sure there are better songs than these, but living far away in the north and not really understanding the lyrics or watching the movies, these are some that the OA and I really trip on.

And older ones

and older still…

and a little more recent…

And of course my Mama… for bringing all the variety into my life. The bengali that my kids speak when pushed. The Rabindra Sangeet that I trained in for years. The ability to slip into that tongue when there is something private to be said (although with the number of bongs I am surrounded by, its hardly the smartest choice). My sturdy Garhwali legs and snub nose (although I wouldn’t have turned down the lovely grey-green eyes my dadu’s family had) and the realisation that hybrids have more fun! The Chinese great-great-grandmother that made people in China ask my brother who was on a project there, if he had any Chinese blood.

And finally – not really my roots, but the touch of the Western coast that the OA adds to my children’s gene pool. They aren’t really flexing their brains and learning it, but its amazing to know that between him and me they have the four corners of the country covered as well as two religions. We call them the peace ambassadors around here.


157 thoughts on “Roots. Day 5

  1. Same here, even though I know only about 10-15 words in tamil, I LOOOVE their songs!! And couldn’t agree more with ” The music really kicks Bollywood’s ass.”

    • ALL the lyrics – I catch on to the regular words like love, and waiting etc. but a lot of the hard core words sail right over
      *dives under a table and waits for a slipper to come flying by*

      • Omana Penne means O my beloved lady… the first line goes like this..I just cant forget you… giving my life for you is right… kind of…

  2. ah, how the traits/features are passed on through generations.
    keep them (happy posts)coming…for all the wrong things happening around, we all can use lots of positivity.

    I don’t understand all of Tamil lyrics..but most, due to similarity to malayalam. many songs come to mind, specially Paadaiyean padippariyean ..’
    note: ofcourse I know you are not mallu. now I know spend few growing up years there..thanks

  3. heehee. I’m tam too. Speak tamil with what cousins call the ‘firang accent’! The parents always look away, pretending to not know me when I start. But the songs are ‘Super’ 😀

  4. Nice Tamil song collection. You and your dad have a great taste in music 🙂

    Just a quick sidenote, i am sure you knew it already, Vasseegara is Tamil version of “zara zara” hindi song from Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein. I listen to vassegara more than zara zara :-).

    This is one of my favorite tamil song, i can’t stop listening to it.
    Elangaathu Veesudhae from Pithamaghan

  5. Wow!! You do have an exotic gene pool. 🙂
    I’m a Tam too, though I’ve been brought up entirely in Gujarat. I do speak fluent Tamil and understand quite a bit of it, though extremely poetic Tamil goes above my head. I agree, Tamil literature and music is a lot more richer than Bollywood.

    PS: I can translate some songs for you, if you really want. To the best of my abilities, of course. You can send the chocolate later. 😀

      • Here you go:

        Adada penne,
        Unn azhagil naan kannai simittavum maranthen
        Orr-aayiram kanavu..hey karaiyum..
        Yen aayiram iravu..
        Yen vizhigal irandai thirudi kondai..

        Oh girl, I am so fascinated by your beauty that I forgot to even blink,
        But I found one thousand dreams.
        A thousand nights shall melt (thinking of you)
        Its only YOU, arriving….departing!
        Bring back my eyes, that you have stolen! (I can’t see anything else except you)

        oh omana penne..
        Unnai..marandhida mudiyathey,
        Omana penne..uyir..tharuvadhu saridhaaney..

        Oh! Darling Girl….. I cannot forget you
        Oh! Darling up my life (for you) would be right (would not be wrong)

        Nee poghum, vazhiyil nizhal-aavaen..
        Kaatril..asaigirath-un seylai..
        Vidaigirath-un kaalai..un pechu un paarvaiii..
        Nagarthidum Pagalai iraivai..
        Pirinthalum, inainthaalum,
        Uyir kootil, sari paathi unathey..
        Un inbam, un thunbam enathu..
        Yen muthalodu mudi-vaanai…

        I want to be a shadow on the paths that you walk on
        I want to be the breeze that will flutter your saree
        My day beings with your voice…seeing you
        It shakes up my days and nights
        Whether we part or unite
        Half of my heart will be yours
        Your joys and your sorrows are mine too
        You have become a part of me

        Omana penne
        Unnai marandhida mudiyathey,
        Omana penne..uyir..tharuvadhu saridhaaney..

        Oh! Darling Girl
        I cannot forget you
        Oh! Darling up my life (for you) would be right (would not be wrong)

        (Malayalam lyrics)
        Malayali-gal thaaraatumm,
        Penn azhagaee..maathang-gal tohpugalil

        In the cradle set amongst trees, Malayalees sing you to sleep, you look like a diamond…Oh! you beautiful girl!..In an orchard of golden flowers…The humming birds….unite….mate in love….They are playing the flute of love for her….isn’t that the girl? Your beautiful girl? Your beautiful girl?

        Thalli ponaal thei-pirai,
        Aagaya vennilaave..
        Anggeyeh nindriraathey..
        Nee vendum..arughae..
        Oru paarvai siru paarvai..
        Udhirthaal udhirthaal,
        Pizhaipeyn pizhaipeyn..podiyan…

        The moon in the sky…
        Don’t just stay just there
        Come and stand beside me
        One look..just a glance
        And I will survive…I will start breathing..

        Omana penne.. Omana penne.. Unnai marandhida mudiyathey,
        Omana penne..uyir..tharuvadhu saridhaaney..

        Oh! Darling Girl…..
        I cannot forget you
        Oh! Darling up my life (for you) would be right (would not be wrong)

  6. Jah. No Bengali songs which need to be translated? I’ve moved to NOIDA from my beloved Calcutta recently, and in dire need for some mother tongue and chocolates.

    I can also do a little bit of Oriya translations if you are interested.

  7. Lovely songs and the Minnale one was what most newly weds and cousins in my hosue sang on their suhag raat. I’ll send u the translated english version, but you know what – it’ll never be as effective as the original.

  8. amazing gene pool hahahaa! good at least you have the genes to blame my case…its total tam bram all sides…but R speaks only mumbaiyya hindi..tits and bits of gujju, bong,marathi and of course to her dad’s relief understands tamil :):)

  9. Great songs..
    Please put the translation of the first one (actually all of them !) here.. What can I say, I am a fake agraharam chick !

  10. ‘Omana Penne’….at one time I couldn’t decide if I was obsessed more with Aaromale,Omana Penne or Hosanna. Those 3 looped endlessly.

    I’m in the same boat too 🙂 I can’t understand hard core words. Sometimes in my head I substitute them with easy words…but then those aren’t for public consumption. Some hard core Tams might just lynch me.

  11. Wow!!
    This was one meaningful post.
    Being a hybrid myself, I can so relate to it 🙂 .
    And though I don’t speak Tamil, I too love tamil songs and get a high when my daughter insists on calling me “Amma” rather than Mummy 😀

  12. i am a hybrid by location…Brought up by fraud mallus to become even more of a fraud mallu…who has lived everywhere in the south and Bombay except Kerela. Married to a Tam brah from the dilli…who could do a total jat act if demanded.

    Can follow tamil, mal, guju and bengali…the latter 2 …i dont know how i learnt but i just can…

    but not well enouh to translate any songs!

  13. I love you, MM!

    In this day and age when most Tamilians I know (and I only know the ones that are like me, who grew up in the north) seem to abhor the language and are embarrassed to admit their heritage, you bring in a breath of very fresh air. I really do appreciate you acknowledging the fact that no two different cultures need be alien to each other, especially so if they are united under one nation.

    And I wish I could translate it here, but the lyrics to Raavanan’s Usure Poguthe (equivalent to Behne De) are beyond mind-blowing. I’m sure you’d appreciate it!

  14. OOOhhhh.. nice post. And gosh, that is a lot of Tamilians who read your blog 🙂
    I love most Rahman songs.. and Ilaiyaraja of yore.. the song from Sadma (Kanne kalaimaane from the Tamil original, Moondram pirai), the songs that Balki rehashed into Cheeni Kum.. everyone of those 😀
    Your tamil family had grey- green eyes? WOw. I love the awesome avial that the Bean and Brat are!

  15. Hey MM,
    Lovely selection of Tam songs! But I think they are better off without knowing the meaning as most of the time they don’t mean much. But Vaseegra has good lyrics.
    Its wonderful that Brat and Bean have such a rich cultural background.
    I have a personal question…how do you manage 2 religions in the family? We are the same way too and I am figuring out the best way to infuse both in my kid….but its hard without appearing partial to my religion, so then I tend to go the other way. I would love to hear your thoughts, even a post maybe if its not too personal? thanks!

      • Pls do it soon MM….a similar situation in my place too…though we are from the same religion we are from diff regions hence diff languages so we are wondering how to infuse both (along with english) to our daughter…considering the fact that only my folks stay in the same city as us so she will be exposed to my mother tongue more often…

  16. Hmm..makes me feel jealous that I am not a hybrid :D!

    I am curious on how your great-great-grandmother ended up in India?

    • i wish i knew. my grandparents are no more and i never did ask them. this was something i took for granted. its only in my early twenties that i realised my family was not the norm and that i should work backwards and find out more.

      • I didn’t get it. Is your great-great-grandmother not from India? Where is she from?

        Wowww! That’s truly a hybrid family.

        • nope. part Chinese or full Chinese. now i am confused as to whether she was great great. or great great great. but the Chinese is there and you can see it in all our faces if you look carefully

  17. oooh! Ancestry ho to aisi:-) I feel positively dull now with maharashtra-goa across the border type genes. But to make it a tad interesting my Saraswat ancestors many, many moons ago moved from the banks of the Saraswat river(yup, the mythical one which disappeared underground)all the way down to the Konkan coast and I’m sure they gathered a varied and interesting gene pool along the way:-)

  18. Dudette, you forgot me ??? you really forgot about me?:(((((( ok! no more songs for u 🙂

    but ok! i will send u a ton of it…next week 🙂

  19. Oh, I know what you mean about being addicted to songs I can’t translate. I’ve just gotten addicted to Spanish songs and I happily sing along without understanding a word. 🙂

  20. MM, your lineage makes mine sound extremely lackluster and boring. That is some gene pool B&B have acquired, peace ambassadors sounds apt!

  21. It’s amazing how much diversity is there in your family. And the kids will appreciate the same as they grow older; as you are currently appreciating your roots!

  22. Hi MM,

    I had been planning to comment in this space for a long time.The thought finally materialised today.I coudn’t resist smothering you with some ‘mallu’ love today.
    Everyone morning, half way across the world, I sit with my morning tea and I check out MM’s post for the day after the daily news. The posts can be counted on for some inspiration, fun or thought provocation(for or against) :).

    As for today’s post, am sure you’ll get some perfect translations in time. But let me start you off with some google finds 🙂



    Can I also suggest the songs from Mani Ratnam’s ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’ . You should hear it with translations!

    The song-
    The translation-

    Get well soon, but do enjoy these days of rest too!


  23. This Tam Brahm’s favorite is from Minsara Kanavu is Tanga Tamara – I love Venillavey and Strawberry Kannae but this one sends shivers down my spine.

    Also the Aishwarya Rai number from Iruvar. You?

  24. A tamil music post without a mention of Ilayaraja? *wail*

    My translation of the “Ondra Iranda” song.. This and the Vaseegara song have been penned by “Thamarai” an upcoming female
    lyricist. Its a refreshing change to get a female POV for a song about a girl’s feelings.

    Ondra renda aasaigaL
    yeLLaam sollavae oru naaL poadhumaa
    anbae…iravai kaetkalaam…vidiyal thaandiyum…
    iravai neeLumaa

    My desires.. they aren’t just one or two
    that I can tell them all in one night
    My Love.. lets ask the night..
    if it can stay with us even after day break

    yeN kanavil…naan kanda…naaLidhudhaan…
    kaLaaba kaadhalaa
    paarvaigaLaal…palakadhaigaL paesidalaam…
    kaLaaba kaadhalaa

    My divine lover..This is the day I always dreamt of..
    Lets exchange many stories through our glances

    peNgaLai nimindhum paarthida-uN iniya
    gaNiyam pidikudhae
    kaNgaLai naera paathdhun-nee paesum
    thoaraNai pidikudhae

    You talk to women without staring at them
    I like that gesture of respect you show
    I love how when you talk
    you look into the person’s eyes

    dhooraththil nee vandhaalae yeN manasil…
    mighapidiththa…paadalundrai udhadugaLum…

    When I see you at a distance
    a monsoon takes over my heart
    My lips start humming
    a favorite song of mine

    Ondra renda aasaigaL
    yeLLaam sollavae oru naaL poadhumaa

    My desires.. they aren’t just one or two
    that I can tell them all in one night

    mandhagaasam sindhum undhan mugham
    maraNam varaiyil yeN nenjil thangum
    undhan kaNgaLil yenadhu kanavinai kaaNapoagirean…

    Your face with the electrifying smile
    I shall remember till the moment I die
    I am going to live my dreams through your eyes

    sandhiyaa kaala maegangaL – poN vaanil
    oorvalam poagudhae
    paarkaiyil yaenoa nenjilae – uN nadayin
    sayalae thoaNudhae

    The clouds of the twilight sky
    are going on a procession under the golden sun
    For some reason, when I look at them
    I am reminded of your majestic walk

    naan kandean
    vaervaigaLin thuLivazhiya nee varuvaay…
    yena nindrean

    I found in you
    the Sun that bathes in the river
    I stood there entranced
    hoping to feel you in my sweat droplets

    uNNaal yeN nenjil aaNin maNam
    naanum sondham yendra yeNNam tharum
    maghizhchchi meerudhae…vaanaththai
    thaaNdudhae saaga thoaNudhae

    Thanks to you, there is a man’s scent in me
    It gives me a sense of belonging
    My joy knows no bounds, it grows beyond the skies
    Makes me want to die this very moment

    Ondra renda aasaigaL
    yeLLaam sollavae oru naaL poadhumaa

    My desires.. they aren’t just one or twothat I can tell them all in one night

  25. Love these latest posts… hope the leg is better. And whoa girl, your roots spread wide and far! As for me, pakka tamil girl married to a pakka tamil boy – boring I say. As for music, we are ilayaraja fans here.. so I can send you a big list one of these days.

    This is the song heard a lot at home now – (spb + chitra, what more can I ask for?!)

    Omana penne has lot of malayalam in it.. but I’ll try translating the tamil parts for you.. await my email!

  26. oh MM… i love this post!

    made me recollect so many of my fav tamil songs.. thats all we are doing this evening..listening to tamil songs!

    So i’ll be honest..i donno the new songs much. The hubby n i yet njoi the old songs…they are so timeless….Have tried to recollect some of the 90s songs for u…but yet there are so many more to add!..i cld go on n on!! Hope u enjoy these….

    n ur family background! I’m jealous! Wot variety!

  27. 1.
    ( u will be in a different world when u listen to it)



    (the original of cheenikum, first composed for a kannada movie-)

    ( one of the most famous theme music by IR)

    ( yet another mind blowing BGM from IR, u shud also watch the movie if u of the best)


    ( black eyed peas used IR’s song in elephunk theme)

    ( this is the original and IR reused it for Paa) saving the best for the last..listen to this when u r alone..u wud shed a tear or two..atleast I do it everytime

    ( this was composed using 100 violins at the same time)

    as u can see IR is my GOD..will come back with more if u wudnt mind.

  28. Beautiful, poetic, soul-stirring Tamil movie songs? That’s going too far.
    We have T Rajendar – the Terror!!! Disgustingly awesome! Fevicol-ka-mazboot-jod type roots we Tamilians get from watching his antiques on screen.

    Get well soon, MM!

      • Oh, I wasn’t being disparaging of Tamil music, MM. I love lots of Tamil songs myself.

        I was merely saying TR is my primary source of entertainment as far as Tamil movies are concerned. The man talks in rhyming rap (!) and defies every logic on the face of the earth and beyond! He adds wonderful words to my Tamil vocabulary, and hence the reference to Tamil roots. 😛

  29. I was telling a friend over dinner just last night that in this increasingly polarized world, the “hybrids” will be the saviors of the world’s sanity. We need an army of people of combined descent to see reason and keep the peace. I know it sounds like a conspiracy plot, but really, this is what the world so badly needs. May your little ones lead!

    • excuse me. My mother and I are hybrid too. I see no reason why my darn brats should lead. but its true. The OA has this friend who is as hybrid as my kids, which says something for the broadmindedness of his family. His mother is Christian, father Hindu, ethnic background includes Telugu and UP roots and he is married to a Buddhist.. and he’s one of the nicest, most laid back, most pared down people i know. have a conversation with him and you’ll see that he has a shockingly clear grasp of what is essential. i love that guy

  30. Both Hindi and Tamil are learnt languages for me..both equally comprehensible/incomprehensible ..but I much prefer watching Maniratnam movies in Tamil ..also preferred Alaipayuthe to Saathiyan

  31. Me: Tam, born in Delhi, educated in UP, Rajasthan and Andhra, now in Haryana.
    The husband: Gult, born in Jamshedpur, educated in Ranchi, Khadagpur and Kolkata, also stayed in Karnataka, Kerela, Orissa and Sri Lanka, now in Haryana.
    Our kids are going to make ‘Mera Bharat Mahaan’.
    Er…Not extending the 5 days to 10 or 15? 😛

  32. I love ‘Appadi Podu’. And that’s all I can add to this post. Yeah, I’m one of those who CANNOT listen to music without understanding lyrics 😦

    I’m only a little bit hybrid, but my kids are going to be Bhangra-dancing, butter chicken-loving, bespectacled, round-faced, big-eyed faux-intellectual Punjongs (that’s Punju+Bongs! I’m so funny, haha!). Isn’t the whole point of making kids about how much we can shock the world?

    Aaj ka happy post? Or you’re doing a work week of only 5 days and not 7? 😀

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