Why are Tamils crazy about Sambar
My Indian ABC
A - like monkeys
Monkey gangs roam our quarters again and again. The mothers carry their cute babies under their bellies and the teenagers venture out to climb electricity and water pipes. But watch out, because they are not as cute as they look!
B - like bananas
For a long time I only knew Chiquita bananas. How did a new world of bananas open up for me here in India? There are over 20 different types of bananas here. Red bananas, plantains, yellow and green, small and large, ...
Banana is definitely not banana. I like the Malai Vazhaiparam best. These are small, sweet bananas from the Niligris Mountains. Did you know that India produces the most bananas in the world?
C - like cricket
Cricket is omnipresent in India. When it comes to international matches, almost half the nation sits in front of the screens and cheers. My husband, who used to be an excellent cricketer and played for the state of Tamil Nadu, is absolutely crazy about the sport. He's not the only one, because most Indians are into cricket. Until now I found this sport, which is a mix between baseball and fire ball, rather boring. But I have to admit that I watched a few games at the last World Cup. And yes, sometimes it was really exciting!
D - like demon grimaces
These are mainly found on houses and trucks. These hideous grimaces are actually intended to ward off demons. They are supposed to turn away the evil and the bad. A demon grimace hangs on our house too.
E - like elephants
I love elephants! We have seen wild elephants many times in national parks. However, I feel terribly sorry for captured animals that have been brutally trained for trade and work.
Unfortunately, the habitat of these beautiful animals is becoming more and more restricted, so that conflicts often arise. From 2015-2018 more than 1700 people were killed by elephants in India. In return, around 80 elephants are killed each year.
F - like holidays
There is no shortage of public holidays here. If you have school-age children, there are many days off during the year. In addition to national and Hindu holidays, the Indian government has also taken into account other religions.
Good Friday and Christmas are free of school. Indian children do not have to go to school on some Muslim holidays, such as Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha.
G - like Ganesha
My favorite god in the diverse Hindu world of gods is definitely Lord Ganesha. The god with the elephant head is very revered in India. He is the God of good beginnings and the conqueror of all obstacles. He is asked for help for all new challenges and he is always present on wedding invitations to support the beginning of the marriage. What makes him so likable to me: He apparently never gets angry and has infinite patience 😉.
You can find out how Ganesha got his elephant head here:
H - like Hanuman
Another popular god is Hanuman. He is practically the superman of the Hindu world of gods and a loyal follower of Lord Rama.
He plays an important role in the great Hindu epic Ramayana. With his superhuman powers he helped Lord Rama to free his wife Sita, who was kidnapped by the evil demon Ravana.
I - like Idly
The small rice and lentil cakes are an indispensable part of the South Indian cuisine. In Tamil Nadu they are prepared for breakfast or dinner. With different chutneys and sambars they taste simply wonderful.
J - like jackfruit
One fruit that I only got to know in India is the jackfruit. The sweet fruit is in high season in the hot summer months. I love her! The kernels can also be cooked and eaten. They taste slightly nutty and go well with drum sticks.
K - like Kingfisher
The beautiful kingfisher adorns the label of the Indian beer company Kingfisher. My husband likes this beer by far the best. I can't do anything with beer, whether Indian, German or Swiss. But I love kingfishers in person more than anything. The White-throated Kingfisher can be seen again and again in our quarters. When I hear his loud, piercing chatter, I mostly spot him on the roof of a house or on a power line.
L - like Lungi
How funny and completely new I found traditional men's fashion in Tamil Nadu at the beginning of my time in India. In addition to the traditional white wrap skirt dhoti, many workers often wear checked lungis.
The lungi is also a kind of wraparound skirt that is worn long or folded in half like a mini skirt.
M - like monsoon
In Tamil Nadu, the rainy season usually starts in October, November sometimes not until December. But the monsoon can hardly please people. There are years when huge masses of water flood houses, streets swell into rivers and where people lose their belongings. And then there are years, like the last one, when it hardly rains. In 2018 we only had 45 percent of normal rainfall. How dependent the country and the people are on the monsoons is a worrying fact in Tamil Nadu at the moment. My new hometown, Chennai, is suffering from an acute water shortage. The water reservoirs are empty and the water table is at a low level. In many places there is no more water and people have to haul water home in heavy water tubs. Many people no longer take water for granted.
N - as in No problem
“No problem, Madam!” I hear these three little words again and again in my new home. Be it the seamstress who made the neckline of my kurta too tight or the electrician who was supposed to replace the previously ordered LED lamp but brought the wrong one. In India there are no problems, only solutions. Sometimes these are not perfect and satisfactory, but solutions are.
O - like Old Monk
The Indian rum Old Monk has become an integral part of our household.
In hot water and with a little honey, it works great for all colds and diarrhea.
We also like it for a cricket match with cola and lemon ;-).
P - like personal questions
For people who grew up in Western culture, Indian compatriots sometimes seem rude and cheeky. While we carefully start the conversation with strangers and talk about the weather, the Indian immediately hits the door into the house. "Are you married? Do you have children? What's your profession? What’s your husband’s profession? Is this your own house? How much rent do you pay? ”I was even asked about my husband's salary! To be honest, I still find this to take some getting used to and not exactly conducive to communication.
Q - like quality
In my old homeland, good quality is always the norm everywhere. As a Swiss, I grew up with the fact that walls are straight, that windows fit exactly to the millimeter, that tiles are perfectly placed and that sanitary installations work. Well, perfectionists are put to the test in India and some trained craftsmen would pull their hair here and go home bald after two weeks.
The bird in our house was shot down by a sanitary facility who, because the toilet pipe did not fit exactly, quietly and secretly reached for wide adhesive tape. The end of the story: a huge water damage that had to be repaired with a lot of money and effort.
R - like Rangoli
Rangoli or Kolams are patterns that Indian women sprinkle with white lime or rice powder in front of the house entrance in the morning and in the late afternoon.
The patterns are designed to welcome visitors and ward off evil. First the floor is cleaned with water and mopped. Then the dots, which are arranged differently depending on the Kolam or Rangoli, are laid out at even intervals.
On festive days, the rangoli are much more elaborate and colored powders are sometimes used.
S - very hot
Karam means spicy in Tamil and that's how my Indian family eats. Almost all dishes come with chillies or chilli powder. When my father-in-law was in the hospital, he was completely dissatisfied with the food that was served. "Karam seine!" He could be heard wailing at every meal. That means it is not spicy, it has no flavor.
Finally the poor got his usual spicy food from home. I've got used to the spicy food a lot and I love it.
T - like tuk-tuk
The yellow-black tuk-tuks are an indispensable part of the streetscape in Chennai. The agile, three-wheeled rickshaws are called Outo here in Tamil Nadu, which can initially lead to misunderstandings. In the heavy traffic they find every gap and push their way through everywhere. You can now book a tuk-tuk via Ola or Uber in a very practical way. This eliminates the annoying dealing with the fare and you are safely on the road, as you get the name of the driver and the car number.
U - how late
After more than 10 years in Chennai, I should know.
If I have invited guests, they usually come half an hour to an hour late. In terms of time, I am and will probably always be Swiss. It could be that the guests suddenly arrive on time or earlier than expected.
Even at school events, many are always late and the start is always delayed by at least a quarter of an hour. I will probably never love Indian Stretchable Time.
V - like Vishnu
The god Vishnu is one of the main gods in Hinduism. With Brahma and Shiva he is part of the Trimurti, a concept that divides the cosmos into three different forces (creation, maintenance and destruction). Brahma is the creator, Shiva the destroyer and Vishnu the sustainer. He ensures a balance between good and bad on earth.
In order to maintain the cosmic order, Vishnu incarnated again and again. Famous incarnations are Rama and Krishna.
W - like what creeps and flies
I don't like crawling insects at all. In the meantime, however, I have become much more relaxed when dealing with cockroaches, ants and other vermin. Since I am very reluctant to use poison, there is always a cockroach in our house that crawls up the drain or an ant trail that leads through our kitchen cupboard. Sometimes it also happens that, despite careful checking, I bring in some bugs while shopping. The worst, however, was when Suriyan attended Playschool. We were always delighted with lice.
X - like Xerox
At first I didn't buckle it at all.
"I need a Xerox of this document."
Just as the company Google has now become the verb googling, so it is with the US company Xerox, which brought printing technology to India. So don't get confused. A copy means a Xerox!
Y - like YES, madam
I've learned one thing in the meantime. Never be sure whether the other person really understood you. So I always ask: “Did you understand?” Most of the time I get a self-confident “YES, Mam!” But I can assure you that even a self-confident YES is no guarantee that what has just been carefully explained has been understood.
Z - like tenderness
While it was a matter of course in Switzerland that my husband and I walked hand in hand, my husband suddenly behaved very strangely in India. From now on there was no more hand in hand and not even a kiss on the cheek in public. The exchange of caresses is exclusively private in India and belongs in the bedroom.
I like it:
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