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“Daiva Saidu Kadavu Mudavum…” September 24, 2006

Posted by espritnoir in Random Thoughts....

I was in Chennai most of last week, coordiating for an event for the company. Very hectic. Quite a lot of work. But, overall good fun. The work’s crazy but i get to visit a few places around the country, and catch a few local spots and most importantly, enjoy the local cuisine.  

Chennai is a good place to be. i have noticed that almost all cities that i have visited in recent times – be it Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune or Chennai – have a really restricted network of public tranport as compared to Bombay, but they make up for it in other ways. I am almost certain that the inter-city roads for all other metros and big towns must be at least 10 times better than Bombay roads. And although the rickhaw drivers in Chennai don’t charge by the meter, and in most cases speak no Hindi at all, and only little and broken English, they still manage to get you to your destination at a fairly reasonable cost. There was this one rick guy, Anand, who drove around 3-4 city blocks, to help me find a cobbler to fix my torn shoe soles. And since the local language was a huge barrier for me, he, with his English became the unofficial translator between me and the locals. He hunted down a decent cobbler, bargained with the guy, and got my shoes fixed and all for the fixed price. Nice guy, must say.

Communication, in general, is a problem though. Unless you speak the local language, or the other guy speaks English, you’re in trouble. Sometimes, i thought that some locals didn’t speak Hindi, even if they knew it, much like the French dont like to speak English, even when they know the language. Thankfully, after a week in Chennai, i can now speak Tamil more fluently than i ever could. Well, maybe I can’t order eggs in Tamil, or ask “Where is the bathroom?” or even ask somebody how to reach the Chennai Convention Center, but i can keep my Tamil audience mesmerized with my knowledge of their language. Or at least, of one phrase, to be precise. Now, I’m sure the nosy ones among you are completely intrigued with my superior knowledge of the language and will want to know what the phrase is and what it means, and how you can it in ordinary life. So, here’s a quick tutorial on the Tamilian phrase.

Imagine you are at work. You got into a tiff with a collegue at work (preferably non-Tamilian, who cannot retort back to your retort) and you want him to make like the air and disappear from your office. Here’s what a possible conversation could go like :

Collegue :This idea stinks! You dont know what you’re talking about!
You : You stink! Get out of my office. And DAIVA SAIDU KADAVU MUDAVUM behind you!!! (you have to yell the Tamil words at full volume to get the full effect)

Watch the collegue slink away in shame and embarrasment, confused as to what you just said to him. Fair play be damned, moral victory is yours! When you can’t go for reason, always go for VOLUME!!! One of the more important things, i’ve learnt from Calvin & Hobbes.

When in Chennai, do try the local cuisine. Try Sarvana’s sambhar rice and curd rice. It’s really nice. The curd rice comes with a splotch of red achar in the plastic container, right in the center of the white curd rice. Not many non colourful things look so simple and perfect, i must tell you. Also, try the fish curry with rice. The fish is seerfish, not pomfret or bombil, like in Bombay. Its nice and thick and tastes quite good again. You could even try it with appams, or better still egg appams. But never try the rotis or phulkas.  The South Indians are good at a lot of things, but making rotis isn’t one of them. No offence to South Indians. It’s just not their forte, i mean. But, if you are ever in Chennai, and if you ever go to the Ashthalaxmi temple, you must even visit Murugan Idli Shop,  just outside the lane that leads to the temple. There you get the smallest, but the tastiest and oilest ghee onion uttapams, with an assortment of chatnis. You must try the yummy mulgapudi chatni, which is a dry chatni, served as a mountain on the banana leaf on which you are given the food. Then along the waiter, who makes a well in the chatni mountain and pours tons of oil in it. You should mix the chatni and the oil quickly or else the oil tends to slide off the banana leaf and then you are left with half the chatni wet and the other half dry. It doesnt taste half as good as the completely wet half. The Murugan idli shop also serves the best medu vada i have ever had. The inside of the fried vada is perfect and soft & smooth as cheesecake. With tons of sambhar on top of the vada, and with hint of the wet mulgapudi chatni,  the vada at Murugan tastes awesome. Not like the grainy heavily deep fried vadas you get in Bombay, dripping with oil. You should go to Chennai to experience the difference.

And although i didnt get to sightsee much, and move around the city as much as i would have liked to, Chennai seemed a good place to visit by in passing. Not like Bombay, (be it ever so crumbled, there aint no place like home:) but still a good place to visit. 

And, before i leave, i’m sure you’re asking in your minds, what does that phrase in the title mean? Well, according to the sweet lady with the mechanically recorded voice, who kept greeting me in the elevator, whenever i opened the door to get in or out, it means, “Please close the door. DAIVA SAIDU KADAVU MUDAVUM”.  

Cheers and goodbye for now.



1. satandit - September 25, 2006

Heya Espirit…was wondering what you were upto…for so long after the Agassi post…and now I know.

Good that you had fun…if only I could say “DAIVA SAIDU KADAVU MUDAVUM”…to most people at work…most are Tamil south Indians…


Be good

2. Vijayalakshmi - September 26, 2006

Daiva Saidu Kadavu Mudavum..I would translate that as….(For God’s sake shut the door!!!)
Good post 🙂

3. Nandita - September 29, 2006

online after ages and still checking up on you!! Thought you’d like to know 🙂 miss you man…
come to dubai soon!!
love ya!

4. silverine - October 4, 2006

I left a comment..where is it? 😦

5. silverine - October 6, 2006

espritnoir: I made you blush? tsk tsk how inconsiderate of me. I should learn to treat my ‘post merit indicator’ better. Bad bad girl silverine!!! One chamaat for you!!!

6. CK - October 12, 2006

hmmm good outing on food haaaa ….. kaam kabhi kya…..so need to visit madras cafe i suppose one morning

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