A Punjabi Pehalwan (body builder) and a South Indian lady meet. For the purposes of this story, let us assume that this is the first time the lady has stirred out of her village and is still taking in the sights of a town while waiting for a bus. Educated at her village school, she speaks English.
The occasion being Nombu, the lady initiates the conversation. Nombu is the festival on which one is supposed to petition the Gods for longevity of their husbands. In fact, the exact verse is
“Urugaadha vennaiyum oru adai-yum nookarean
Or naalum yen kanavan piriyaamal irukkanum”
Loosely translated, it means:
I’ll give you butter and some stuff to eat
Make sure my husband doesn’t leave me ever.
Seems like bargaining to me, but that’s the whole verse.
Anyway, the South Indian lady (S I L ) starts off by saying
S I L: Thali is my life. I will do anything for the thali (Thali is akin to the wedding ring/mangal sutra in South India)
Pehalwan (P): Yes…yes. Me too. I cannot live without thali you know (The pehelwan is of course referring to the food thali – meaning plate of food. In restaurant parlance, the thali is now synonymous with a wholesome meal comprising roti, rice, side dishes and dessert)
S I L sounding surprised: Really? You too have a thali? (Only the married woman wears the thali, men have no means of showing themselves married)
Pehelwan: What do you mean? You too have a thali? I am telling you, I cannot live without a thali!
S I L: Hmm…Interesting
Pehelwan: How many thalis can you have? *stroking his expansive belly*
S I L: What nonsense is this? How many thalis can you have! * ‘Abhachaaram abhachaaram‘ she mutters to herself meaning ‘Blasphemy!”
Pehelwan wondering why such an innocent question should cause so much grief to an individual: What is wrong with my question? Women – pah! I can have 4 thalis at one shot do you know? *flexing his muscles *
Pehelwan continues: I am feeling hungry now – how about having a thali together? There is a temple nearby somewhere. Look for it, there is a restaurant nearby I believe.
The South Indian lady flees before things take a nasty turn and chastises herself for even talking to another man. She finds her husband, and immediately falls at his feet and takes the thali out of her saree and dabs it reverently, while the husband looks on bewildered!