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Archive for March, 2013

Unlike’ly

Facebook has a like button. The like button is rampant, and gives you the possiblity of liking pretty much anything, from someone’s wedded life to possibly thier terminal cancer diagnosis. And once you like something, much unlike you’d expect, it gives you an option of “unliking” the same thing.

So I wonder, what it is to unlike something. It is pretty much unlike any other form of un- based negation: you can undress someone who is dress, someone unwell can recover and become well; some stuff that were once a luxury and unnecessary have now become necessary; and many went from being employed to the un-prefixed version of it when recession hit them.

But to “unlike” something is to redefine English, unlike any other common misplaced word. It’s so commonplace that we don’t even realise that instead of saying, “I don’t like this anymore,” we decide to “unlike this.” Also, you can “unlike” something you once liked but just don’t appreciate anymore without necessarily disliking it. Too much for your liking? Go find something unlike this then.

P.S.: I do strongly support Krish Ashok’s suggestions to Indianise the Like button, unlike Grammar Nazis who believe in changing Aashai mugam to Aasai mugam.

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Now, this might sound like an abuse to anyone like me who’s grown up in Chennai Madras watching thamizh cinema, and I am confident Samosapedia would agree with me. What, they don’t? Bloody buffaloes, they deserve a thodappa kattai. Anyhow, I am not here to abuse anyone, or take any. In fact, this blog post has nothing to do with thodappa kattai in an abusive connotation.

It all started when my friend asked me last week, “Vignesh, in India, you don’t have aspirateur?” to which I responded with a proud, “why of course we do! We even have one at my parent’s place.” And then comes in response, “then why don’t people use it? I thought it didn’t exist in India. People use that thing, why?”

What thing, you might wonder. It is none other than the Indian broom stick, or jhaadu, or thodappa kattai. This blog post is just about its history, geography, therapy, and more! But while I kept thinking “oh this would make an amazing blog post,” I had to respond to my friend who was standing wondering what great logic millions of Indians share about the thodappa kattai. So I put on my thinking hat:

Think baby think

And I tried to come up with an explanation; many in fact:

  • No no, in India there’s lot of dust on the floor. And a vacuum cleaner can’t clear it out. Neither does a broom.
  • It’s good for health. Really?! Stay bent down, screw up your back, very nicely put.
  • We use the vacuum cleaner for removing cobwebs in remote corners of the wall & ceilings. So, that bans you from using it on the floor?
  • It’s cheaper to use brooms. You have the darn vacuum cleaner at home already. Why won’t you use it? What’re you trying to conserve, electricity?
  • We have servant maids at home. So you can’t train them to be more efficient.

And then it had to be, “we’re just used to it.” Finally, an answer that even I’m sick of. That’s a sure shot conversation winner. But after some time-wasting with google, I figured it is perhaps a style statement. BigStock certainly thinks so:

Thodapamista! There’s a whole series of photos by the way. Visit the page and you’d see how trendy it is!

I think I can actually go on and write a whole new entry about this series of photos. Thin sleeveless blouses, matching handle to the broomstick, kitch colours, it’s perfect for the common Indian bride-seeking boy! Oh darn, I’m deflecting again. Alright, as promised, I present to you, the history, geography, and therapy of it.

History: well I know it comes from the store. Why does it matter who invented it? If you want one, you can buy from Bison Cleaning Products Pvt. Ltd. And their brand name is in fact consitent with my earlier abuse to samosapedia. Another interesting fun fact about the Indian broom is that you have to tune it first. Because the new broom releases more dust than it cleans. In tamizh, we term it poo kottaradu (meaning the falling flowers). I’ve seen the maid in our house scratch the newly purchased broom against a coarse surface until it wears out. Just beats me!

Geography: it seems it isn’t limited to the Indian household. This England-raised Irish Liz Scully woman has extensively written in her smitten dust trilogy, in three parts, namely part one, part two and part three, on India, dusting and maids in India dusting.

Therapy: See photo on top, if it doesn’t help, buy yourself a broom and hit yourself with it. Slipper would also do. Make sure it’s torn. If needed, I will provide you with worn out slipper.

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