I met her on the bus from Perambur to Besant Nagar. She was from Kobe, a mega Rajini fan and had come all the way to Chennai for Chandramukhi release. ( Phew and we thought these guys existed only in TN, did we ??? ). Her name was Lillian and she spoke in halting English. How she understood Tamil continues to be a mystery to me.
The ride was a 45 minute one, and needless to say all eyes on the bus were fixated on the maid from east. Our converstion sped along with 29C. She had seen every one of Rajini's movies . Her all time favourite was Muthu. She had met Rajini, and had the privelege of dining with him at his residence. But the most intriguing part of the trip was yet to come.
She wanted to know more about getting to "Marudai". I was surprised.
'Madurai ?? ' I intended to correct her ?
'No no , Ma- Ru- Dai.' she spelt it with perfection.
'I read somewhere that Vadivelu is from Marudai. I love his style of speaking Tamil and dialogue delivery. I wanted to visit the place where he belongs to. I also read that the dialect of the area is very interesting. In fact my friends and I have seen some of his movies.Trust me he and the other guy ,Sorry I dont re call his name ( I guess she was referring to Parthiban!!) make the perfect pair.'
'So I wanted to visit that part of TN also, to get a feel of the place and people to take back with me.'
The bus screeched to a grinding halt. It was Adayar.Lillian bade good bye , and I trudged along. I felt squeamish. I had never really enjoyed Vadivelu's acting, but after hearing Lillian go Ga Ga, I thought I must give him a second chance. I picked up a VCD on the way home. The shopkeeper recommended Vettri Kodi Kattu. I must say I was impressed.
As I walked on the sands of Elliots beach that evening , I couldnt help wondering at the paradox of human behavior. It has always taken an outsider to discover the true beauty of a country. Be it the Irish man gazing at the Statue of Liberty or the Indian watching the Sun rise by a lake.
When we travel abroad we maintain checklists of what to see, what to experience and dutifully tick them off . Rarely do we do the same at home. Homeland is always there to be seen, always there to be criticized. Why is an African tribal dance in VGP more interesting than the local Ra koothu ?
It took a Lillian to bring to my notice that there was beauty in the cacophoney of Marudai Tamizh. I am happy that I now have chosen to view it.
P.S. Lillian would have left for Marudai by now.