Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A Deepavali Mixture

If you have ever been to South India, or are of South Indian heritage, you would know that 'mixture' is a stand-alone word and does not refer to cough mixture or anything as unpalatable. 'Mixture' refers to a savoury snack comprising a mix of roasted peanuts, lentils, green peas, and crispies made of corn, rice or gram flour (which is also known as 'omapodi').

I see my recent Deepavali celebrations as being quite similar to 'mixture' in a lot of ways. It was tasty, it was nutty, it was a mix of all sorts of different 'bits', it had something for everyone, and it left me wanting more.


During a recent conversation with some friends from work, we decided it would be fun to go to the cinema to watch the latest Tamil offering, 'Enthiran', starring none other than the overrated Rajnikanth. Why overrated? Well, it's true. In India, working class moviegoers deify him to the extent that they carry out milk abhishekam (i.e. libation) on his posters and cut-outs. This, in a country filled with hungry children and stray animals. I am of the opinion that the milk could have gone to better use feeding the needy.

Still, Tamil movies are always good for a laugh, especially anything with Rajnikanth in it. Rajnikanth jumps on top of the pool table and twirls a pool cue! The pool cue whirls around the room, as if by remote control, and brains the baddies, one after another, while the baddies just stand there agape, waiting to be bashed up! Rajnikanth stops a raging bull from goring a damsel in a red saree by splashing blue paint over the hapless wench, thus confusing the bull (and ruining a perfectly good saree)! Rajnikanth singlehandedly bashes up 20 thugs after they rape a working class girl! (You know someone's been raped when you see... GASP.... Broken Bangles!)

Tamil movies aren't just about bloody fights and battles, however. There's also the police-and-baddie-find-out-they-are-brothers-separated-at-birth theme. And there's also romance, and a hang of a lot of travel destination promotions.

"I love you..." the hero would croon from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
"I love you..." the heroine would coyly reply from a log cabin somewhere in the Swiss Alps. Then the hero and heroine would appear together somewhere in the vicinity of the Pyramids of Giza, and sing and dance while accompanied by a posse of backup dancers all at least one shade darker in complexion than the hero and heroine.

It was with that in mind that we got around to booking tickets to "Enthiran", a week before Deepavali.


I have discovered that most women are a lot of work and a lot of trouble to go anywhere with. Trying to make arrangements to go anywhere with women is like trying to herd cats made of jello.

A simple question: "Shall we go for Enthiran tonight?" brought forth an amazing array of responses and excuses.

"Today I can but I have to cancel my rock-climbing session."
"Today I am not properly attired to go watch a movie" (Huh?!?!)
"What do you mean by not properly attired?"
"My blouse has too many creases in it."
"I don't see any creases."
"Who's going to look at the creases in your blouse in the dark? Other people are there to watch the movie".
"Yeah but I still have to walk up the stairs, right?"
"How about you? Is tonight okay with you?"
"I can't, it's too close to Deepavali"
"How about Tuesday?"
"I have Muay Thai on Tuesday."
"Why can't you postpone it?"
"If I postpone it, I have to pay a RM50.00 penalty"
"Tuesday I can, but Wednesday I can't".
"That means today you can?"
"No, today I can't"
"Why not?"
"Cos I go home early on Fridays".
"How about Tuesdays?"
"Tuesday also not sure yet."
"Tuesday is also too close to Deepavali, I can't."
"Monday I need to go to the hairdresser's"
"Why can't you go to the hairdresser's on Tues or Wed?"
"Because Tues or Wed is too close to Deepavali".

Aaaargh! Aaaargh! Aaargh! Rajnikanth, save me!

Organising a full battle dress military tattoo with an air force show would be less troublesome and would take less time.

Ask a man: "Wanna go for Enthiran?"
And he says: "Okay, let's go."



And so, as it turned out, only Mac, Anne and I ended up watching "Enthiran" that night. Anne and I thought that the most remarkable special effects lay in how the make-up artists managed to make Rajnikanth, who must be pushing 60 if he's a day, look so young. "It's rubber latex", we ruminate. "Or spray-on silicone". "Or just Photoshop".

It turned out to be the first Tamil movie I have ever watched which had full and complete English subtitles. Even the songs had subtitles. By now I wished they hadn't, because Anne and I developed asthma attacks from laughing too hard.

Usually, when I watch Tamil or Hindi movies, the songs would be pleasantly unintelligible to me. What I normally manage to catch, with my rudimentary command of Tamil, Hindi and Punjabi, is:
"something something heart something something love something something something crazy."

However, the subtitles for the songs in "Enthiran" made me cringe, laugh and slap my forehead in disbelief.

"You are the hot wasabi in my honey..."
(Ummm.... sure sounds yummy. Not.)

"Your lips are like a sleeping zebra..."
(I can imagine what a well-received pick-up line this would be!)

"Your hips are like a toddler's chair..."
(Never underestimate the importance of child-bearing hips to an Indian man!)

"If you are a meadow, is it wrong for the tiger to graze on you?"
(No it's not forbidden, it's just against biology and common sense.)

Anne's hypothesis is that all Tamil movie songs are metaphors for sex. When the hero and heroine appear magically (and randomly) at Macchu Picchu and start singing about zebra lips and unripe fruits, you know it's a sign that the hero and heroine are getting jiggy with it at the moment.

I don't disagree with Anne, I'd just like to expand on her theory. I think Tamil movie songs are a metaphor for sex, life, the battle between good and evil, and mixture.

A Masala Picture Mixture of my Deepavali week:

Dove-peacock hybrids at a kolam I spotted at the Tropicana City Mall!

It's time to play Deepavali Santa! Goodie bags filled with cookies, snack mixes, cordials, soda and fruits on their way to being delivered to our hardworking SPCA general workers. 4 other volunteers and I decided to anonymously make these goodie bags for the workers in recognition of their hard work, their love for the animals under their care and for the fact that they have gone beyond the call of duty time and time again to help animals in grave need.

Cheerful and courageous Bravo gets a bath on Deepavali morning, in line with tradition.

Estel comes back to me for boarding while her parents travel to Tampin for Deepavali. I gave her a bath on Deepavali morning and put her pretty new collar on her.

I had a scrumptious Deepavali lunch at fellow blogger Keats' house. Keats, Vicki and I pose with Keats' folksy-looking peacock kolam and villaku oil lamps for posterity.

Keats and Ravi's handsome lab, Robbie, didn't want to be left out of things!

I went to the SPCA after lunch, as I do every Deepavali, to help the staff finish their work earlier so they could go home in time to have tea with their families on this auspicious day. I managed to bathe and tickwash all the dogs in the kennels behind the office as the dogs are well-behaved and are used to me by now. I managed to finish cleaning and disinfecting the shelter by 1830 hrs.

Glyn is back in Malaysia, and so we decided to visit the Batu Caves temple on Deepavali night, ostensibly for a spot of night photography. Glyn brought me a camouflage bush hat from the UK. As can be seen from the photos, I didn't take the hat off all night.

I was invited to my buddy Rangamal's home and made myself so comfortable that I demolished 4 thosais (That Special Someone insists that the correct spelling is 'dosa') at one sitting.

Horsing around with Karthik, a.k.a. 8-year-old football Wikipedia. Who needs Soccernet when you have a friend like Karthik?

Books that I purchased for my friend Suzanne Samy's "A Book For Me, Please" project for needy children.

I hope that your Deepavali celebrations were as full of friendship, love, laughter, joy and mixture as mine was. And so I bid you adieu.


Ellen Whyte said...

Best Tamil film review ever!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks, Ellen, Au and Target! :D I hope no Rajnikanth fan bashes me up over this post!

Pat said...

What a lovely read, E! From omapodi, to Tamil movie sub-titles (and sub-text, eh?), to kolams and Bravo - and you demolishing thosai!

On Deepavali morning, Chuan and I demolished thosai and idli, compliments of a dear friend. And for desert we snacked on murukku - all day :)

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks for coming by, dear Pat! Ah-ha! Looks like you had a lovely Deepavali too! Any murukku mixture, too?
A bit of good news: Bravo can walk and run (although I am restraining him!) on all 4 legs now! His hind leg has healed nicely, to my observation. He can put weight on it. I can stop physiotherapy for the broken leg.

louis said...

Your review of the Tamil movie reminded me of my experience watching a Cantonese movie in Penang. I don't know of word of Cantonese so I laboriously followed along reading the subtitles and I eventually became aware that somehow I easily understood the Bad Guys. Then it dawned on me that was because they were all speaking English.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

LOL, Louis, your comment had me laughing real hard! Gosh, it took you that long to realise they were speaking English? I'm not all that surprised, though. Sometimes I listen to non-native speakers of English speak and I wonder if they are speaking English, Hokkien or Swahili.

Unknown said...

Hilarious stunts in Tamil movies and that's what draws the public especially in India. I have to admit, it's a no-no for me to sit through one. Catching the odd scenes on tv is good enough, I'm afraid. Am a velly serious person - ha! ha!
Robbie sure behaved very well with the bustle of guests.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Hi Keats! Thanks for coming by! Tamil movies are great entertainment, but not good for productivity because they last for hours! Plus all the violence will influence impressionable young minds.
Robbie is a sweetheart. So patient, so friendly, so well-behaved. And he looks so young for his age, just like you and Ravi!

mum said...

one word:


~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Mum-In-Malaysia,
Thanks for liking my post, and laughing along! Are you still in Malaysia? We should catch up!


hello CO78,

glad that you had a such wonderful deepavali. The night photo @ batu caves is really awesome and probably it's time for me to visit batu caves for solo photo shoot. Take care

Abang Rizal

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you for stopping by, Abang Rizal! I hope you had a good Deepavali celebration too! Batu Caves is always nice, any time of the year!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Rajnikanth? Give us Kamal Hassan anytime! come there are no felines (story or pix) in this entry? purrr....meow!

Anonymous said...

Hello from New Zealand,
Stumbled across your blog through a comment left in a UK recycling blog. Love it! Fully support all your environmental efforts. Awareness is high in NZ and lots of things are becoming normalised like taking reusable bags to the supermarket.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Kitties-In-Sydney,
Enthiran was actually the first full-length Tamil movie I have watched in YEARS. I don't think I'd have that much time to fritter away on movies again. As for cats, there is an update on and photo of Estel in this post, below the photo of Bravo!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Anonymous @ 8.00 P.M.,
Thank you very much for your visit. Do you have a blog that I can visit in reciprocity? I love NZ, I was there for over 2 weeks, it's such a clean, beautiful and well-managed country, with such beautiful animal shelters and sanctuaries too!

Anne V said...

hey women are not difficult to plan things together with! Like the Tamil movie review! Excellent.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

LOL, most women are not all that difficult to plan things with, Anne! Only YOU would pack your schedule with gym, weightlifting, rock-climbing, body combat, veena lessons, muay thai, Korean lessons, French lessons and goodness-knows-what-have-you!