A revelation during the weekly grocery shopping

Being the reluctant shopper that I am (or the one who walks in with a rigid list of only the most basic household items to buy and to whom no amount of retail POS marketing will hold sway to play upon the “impulse” factor), I go to a grocery chain near my home and almost finish buying everything on my list except for the last item which is one of those “instant” things. I go to that section and see a couple of brands for that particular item. One of them is a famous South-based instant foods maker and the other manufacturer is a North-based company and this is where a surprise is in store. The North-based company’s packaging clearly says “Dosai” whereas the South-based company’s labeling has it as “Dosa”. I had written about this “Dosa” and “Vada” business a long time back on ChennaiCentral and am now reminded about it standing in that aisle. I am also pleasantly surprised that the company that has the right spelling for the product has done its homework well, even though it is not from this region. And am miffed that the other company, even though should have got it right, has not taken the same care. These things are almost like the way wrong usage of the words/expressions like “loose” (where “lose” has to be used), “24x7x365” etc. get perpetuated and no one stands up and says “Enough of this bull****! Either use our terms correctly as they should be used or apply the rule uniformly and start calling Poori as Poor, Roti as Rot and Chapathi as Chapath. Or if you want to murder only the names of this region’s dishes, call Idly as Idl and Thali as Thal.” But, this change, even if it happens, will only happen slowly. After all, there is a historical reason for many of the South-Indian/Sanskrit names getting their ending vowels mercilessly cut off by Northerners, going by what Rajeev Srinivasan had written a few years back.

12 Comments so far

  1. Anamika (unregistered) on May 20th, 2007 @ 11:54 am

    LOL at Poor, Rot and Chapath. Excellent way to drive home the point!

  2. Navneeth (unregistered) on May 20th, 2007 @ 1:43 pm

    Apart from this cutting-off business, the other thing that irks me is the “English pluralisation” of Tamizh/Sanskrit words: The rasikas enjoyed the ragas. How irritating is that?

  3. Raj (unregistered) on May 20th, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

    First, Thennavan, you must appreciate that dosa(i), vada(i),etc are not items that Tamilians have proprietary rights over. What about the rest of South India? In Bangalore, the items are commonly referred to as dosa and vada. Oothappam here is oothappa in Bangalore. Uppuma here is uppitu there. So, is there a single South Indian way of referring to these items? What should the packagers follow? Or should they keep changing the label in each state?

    Second, as I have commented on your posts before, such narrow, parochial sentiments have no relevance today and are completely anachronistic. We, the educated lot in the blogworld, in particular, must rise above this, and refrain from stoking such fires based on linguistic, regional or religious divisiveness. The virtual community, that we form part of, has the potential to render even concepts such as nation-state obsolete and can help create a global mindset. Let’s work towards this, instead of seeing ghosts of Northern arrogance everywhere.

  4. thennavan (unregistered) on May 20th, 2007 @ 9:14 pm

    Raj, I am using no straw-man here. Far from it, what I am saying is for cultural sensitivities to flow both ways. I am sure if a company based from here which was in the instant foods business had misspellings of North-based items, it would not be well-received over there. Even in DD news in the past (the ones from Delhi), while greater care would be taken to pronounce foreign names correctly, the same care would not be shown when South-Indian (or Thamizh) names were involved. It is this double-standard that gives rise to this kind of angst.

  5. Chennaiite (unregistered) on May 20th, 2007 @ 11:43 pm

    Well said Raj. This sounds pretty petty to me. Dosa or Dosai – whats the big deal? Guys should grow up instead of arguing over small things like these.

  6. SN (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 12:40 am

    Raj at least has some credibility since he has given some link back that identifies him as a blogger but Chennaiite, your only claim to fame is being a troll for Thennavan’s posts. I have been seeing you doing only this for many of his posts. What are you? Some jilted lover of his? My mom said if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say it but probably those things don’t apply to you.

  7. sachin (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 12:51 am

    Say Thennavan,.. lets take an example closer to your heart… why do u spell tamil as tamizh? It is because you are really sentimentally particular, right? But, Do you think any i would really intentionally want to hurt your sentiment if i spelt tamil as t-a-m-i-l?

    if an indian from above goa or andhra says dosa instead of dosai.. it doesnt mean that he/she is trying to be ignorant towards tamil pronounciations or sentiments.

    The northy still loves dosa, he still calls it south indian, he still looks for good sambar and chutney, he will ask his mum or wife to cook a dosa in his house with desi ghee. He will still want to eat the ‘real thing’ dosa when he visits chennai. and he will still tell the dosa guy on the street in mumbai ‘anna .. mujhe ek original chennai dosa diyo’.. and this i speak of with experience.

    Dont u find respect in all so much?

    Please dont be so parochial abt chennai or tamil.. its not worth it. We are all india..lets be a little lenient about these small differences in language and culture. Otherwise what is the difference between us and hardliners?

  8. tsk tsk (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 1:26 am

    Lets not be so possessive abt spellings.. im sure most chennaites dont know the difference between awadhi or hindi or urdu or bhojpuri. Wouldnt It be rather unfair if someone in the north were to blame you for being insensitve or ignorant about their sensitivities and the difference between their 10 or 12 devagnagri script derivatives? The Average Tam doesnt know hindi cause he doesnt need it.

    Wouldnt it be rather hypocritical, we if blamed north indians for not knowing tamil spellings to the dot perfect? Its just that north indians dont need to know the exact spelling, and hence they dont know it!

    With your logic im sure youll want to send all chennaites back to school, cause im sure we speak a totally murdered version of tamil! so every coimbatore and madurai macha says! ULTRA REGIONALISIM!

  9. Chennaiite's buddy (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 3:48 am

    You talk about Chennaiite being anon. Aren’t you being the same? Who are you? Are you Thennavan’s alter ego or his bed mate? May be check with your Mom first before replying to this. Lol…..

  10. gila_mon (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 4:43 am

    Start writing something about Chennai.
    Not about your cold, your 12 years in US,
    your skills in english.
    I am surprised your fellow bloggers
    tolerate your pathetic scribblings.

  11. SN (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 9:24 am

    Ok Chennaiite’s buddy and all you anon bashers out there, let me give it back to you. What’s your point? You are all shameless two-faced faggots who cannot see the fundamental point here. Will you tolerate if your names are misspelt in all communication addressed to you? What is wrong in this post asking a similar question? At least Thennavan takes a stand on something unlike cowards like you who keep throwing these jabs from the safety of your miserable dark existences.

  12. thennavan (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 9:53 am

    SN, thanks for the support but I would like to prevent this forum from becoming a personal slanging match between people and hence comments are closed on this one.

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