Statutory Warning : This post is going to describe a typical tam family, so pardon me if some of you find it real OHT !!!!

It was a Monday morning.One of those proverbially horrendous ones. The types that make you ruminate on the larger meaning of life.One that leads you to think up stuff like "I had four years of paid(??) vacation at undergrad.I swear I want to make gradschool different.Maybe I should cut down on fun and get serious with life".

Along came the smokies trip.Once in a bluemoon,I told myself.A real good break before I take up rigors of gradschool,I told myself.I spend the last week catching up with all the backlog,on the homefront and otherwise.This Friday evening, chance bestowed on me a trip to lexington.And,a play by crazy mohan and troupe!!!!!!!

It was an extremely enjoyable outing, and of course, there was good food too!!!Plays by "crazy" involve comedy,for the uninitated, and loads of it.And, the clean variety.(Hard to believe,but true!!!).It is a typical drama that you and your family can sit together and watch/hear on those sunday evenings. I grew up on a steady diet of "Return of crazy theives" "Crazy theives of Palavakkam" and "Maadhu +2" when I was a kid.Audio cassettes were exchanged between cousins, and the latest expoits of Maadhu and Cheenu was one of the mainstays of any family get-together discussions.There were a few of us who could not only recite dialougues word-for-word,but also add very comic gestures and intonations to make it rip roaring.

Diwali,of course,was the one occasion which none of us would miss.Till I was about 10, I was lucky to have the kinda diwali one reads about in "Swami and friends".Getting up at four in the morning,we would find all our new clothes stacked neatly with a spot of turmeric on the edges.(That is supposed to ward off evil or whatever!!!)Paati used to have us form a line, and when it was our turn, we would sit atop a "Manai".This was proceeded by a red paste she would apply to our feet, and a spot of oil on our heads.(This is usually preceeded by sleepy protests of "Paati, we cant wash hair,its four and there is not enough "Venneer" of all of us!!!!").

After chittapa's incessant alarms and timeouts , the entire family used to assemble outside the porch for the fireworks. Thatta, on the other hand, unfailingly took up the task of taking the family's newest born to the farthest room,cushioning the little one with blankets until he/she was safe from the atrociously high decibel levels in the neighborhood.Appa took up the task of lighting small "color match sticks" for the faint hearted toddlers. The rest of us used to take turns in lighting and watching the dizzying array of "Thara chakrams" "Kambi mathaapu" "Saatai" and God knows what else. The highlight of the celebrations used to be the firepots.We used to take turns to position ourselves by the switch board, and switch off all exsisting light sources at the croacky "Lights off, now!!!"by one of my cousins.Pitch dark for a minute before a beautiful flowerpot went off.I think it was more the feeling of togetherness, than the coordinated "Lights off " routine.Every year,one of us in the cousins gang would do something smart-alecky and end up getting scolded at.But the mood was always festive,fun and undoubtedly warm.By dawn break,most of us,tired and hungry(My guy cousins would shoo us away and go ahead with some "macho" stuff...the "atom bombs" and "triple shots"!!!!!) , would go off and take comfortable positions on sofas , or better still on some cuddly aunts lap.The TV routine started off with the monoply channel DD churning out"Kirbanandha variyar"'s ponmazhigal or something.Of course,one of us giving a funny live commentary and mimicking him,ensured none of us ever heard any of his divine ramblings.

Food sessions - each of our moms would coordinate on what sweets and savories each one prepares, so that there wouldnt be too much of the same variety.A sumptuous array of murukku,thattai,adhirsams,mixture,mysore pak,ladoos,seedais.. (Wait wait.. I have to stop now to grab a tissue... to stop the drool..)would be followed by a recipe exchange session by the womenfolk.Someone just has to mutter "How nice if this was had with soooda oru coffee" and Bam!!!! The liters and liters of "Kaapi"would just keep flowing along with a "suvayaana pattimandram".(And I havent even tasted coffee so far!!! how did I manage that !!!!).

But midday, we would switch to listening comedy tapes by S.V.Shekar or Crazy Mohan.(I bet you guys are thinking "Huh!!! So FINALLY!!! Thats the goddamn connection!!!!")Outrageous jokes would follow, from each ones workplace or school or college.It used to be one hell of a hilarious session,with even the usually taciturn and serious thatha joining in with some particularly witty stuff from his work days.Lunch of course, was all about who could eat more of "Thayir vadai" or who could gulp down tumblers of yummy payasam.This would predictably be followed up by jokes about somones growing belly and futile attempts at the treadmills.And of course,the latest babe in my cousins college, and his futile attempts to impress her(This usually would fall in the late night,secret,"cousins-only" discussions in the "Motta maadi" but, the rascal would,sometimes get away with this at the lunch table too!!!!).

Now, in case you are wondering what happened to this fairy tale, nothing did.Time, just flew. And left all of us yearning for more.I must have heard it a hundred times, I still LOL when I listen to this family favorite:

Maadhu : " Aaamam, dei maruthu... bank aa kollayadikka sorangam thondren sorangam thondrennu solriye.. thondina satham varume da???"

Marudhu a.k.a erudhu : "Athellam plan pannamaya ithula yenrangirpom vadhyaare ... satham vandha varatum,kaathula panja vechundu thondrom!!!!"

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