Excited to be back in the informal Tamil forum, one which is not ‘organised.’ For, the handful of us have no elected president or vp or secretary to run the show. A group of us were into such a down-to-earth setting of Tamil speech club if I may call so (for lack of any other term for description) that I left with my departure to India by the end of 2019. Initiative by Sri Lankan Tamils principally, the get-together used to be bi-monthly at a friend’s place who lent his spacious residence for us to enjoy pure literary Tamil company not corrupted by formality of tailormade speeches or awards/prizes/ certifications or even an enrollment/membership fee, or any such paraphernalia that normally went with formal speech fora. Each of us took a turn to treat everyone with a sumptuous typical Tamil breakfast of Idli, Dosa, Pongal, Vada, Sambar, Chutney with Filter coffee that we would order from a franchisee of Saravana Bhavan or Vasantha Bhavan or Aryas here in Middle East. Hearty exchange of ideas, sharing of thoughts, recitation of poems penned, singing our own lyrical compositions, sometimes some interesting games would keep us engaged for almost two hours. No dilution of quality. No laid down rules. No censorship because as adults we thought we were aware of what to talk in a public platform. Attired informal but for festive occasions, we dressed as per the season. The meetings always began with Thamizh Thai Vaazhthu and closed with a Mangalam. We would decide on the course of the meeting unanimously with inputs from everyone. We discussed the next meet’s agenda together. No hard and fast rules. No tab on speeches but we stuck to meticulous timing without a prompt. Every single one of us got to intereact with each and every other member making for truly an inclusive and totally transparent forum with representation from all quarters. Not more than 15-20 of us could make it in any case. We would disperse after a light banter at the end of the session to wait for the next meeting in a fortnight’s time.
After attending formal English speech clubs I am able to appreciate better the informal speech environment of the Tamil Koottam (simple name for the very earnest effort). Credit goes to the Sri Lankans for not allowing an inch of manouvre from the purpose of the meet, keeping the substance mattering all the time, yet managing the affair matter-of-factly without drawing undue attention to themselves or trying to boss over. The gesture needs emulation in every arena. Very mature handling.
I am not denying how much I have benefited from formal speech clubs. Toastmasters, to be more precise. In TM environment, I learned to LISTEN first! Then I noticed others’ mistakes that I thought I must avoid. And finally I grew out of my stagefear. Not that i am now totally not shy of the stage, but to a large extent, I was able to successfully quell it,reaching out to audience with direct eye contact. My takeaway from TM is my new found confidence over anything. I learnt to write briefest speeches, because I am notorious for my longwinding write-ups! I learnt how to wrap up quick, how to give a thunderous intro, build a convincing body and then make an impressive retreat that left the audience thinking. I don’t know how much I achieved really here, but I took my own sweet good time to reach level 10 or the final step to become a competent communicator that normally took others 6 months to one year only! I spaced out my projects because I also shared my time between India and here. With every level, I wanted to match my speech quality equally. Awards and certificates meant nothing to me.
But I am all for the high achievers who make some very good speakers in the TM world. I have listened to some greatest and moving speeches packed with a punch, delivered on the dot. Drawn from life experiences, there have been one or two that even moved me to tears. I think I may be the only housewife in my club hahaha! I wonder at their reaction if I am to tell them I am a granny now hahaha! The mix of the crowd is good in TM whereas in Tamil club, you know what to expect. I like TM for the different kind of experience that I cannot savour elsewhere.
The point is I have no desire to improve myself beyond a point in the formal TM atmosphere. I may continue as a member but I lack the initiative to take it upward from where I am. May be I am too spoilt by the informal Tamil gathering where my heart truly belongs!
We are all not TED material here hahaha! I like to keep things simple and stressfree!
Tried my hand at the Tamil TM as well. Quality of speeches was a sore disappointment there that made me quit half way.
We give our valuable time (!) to these activities because we want something from them, to add value to our lives. This is why we listen to music, we read books, play games etc. Anything that does not serve the purpose is a waste of time and effort. In fact, it is an affront to our learning spirit and pesonality!
My conclusion is that, the informal speech fora are the most democratic, with everyone on equal footing. But to convene such meetings, the members must hold extraordiary discipline and self-control. None is obliged to anyone and no one needs to be bothered with responsibilities. Partially this is true of TM whose office bearers too do a thankless job. TM has no profit motive either. It is self improvement with active enrollment and participation, each one paying for his/her through which is fair. For me personally, an informal gathering still keeps my mind free. We have met in parks as well, in winter times.
I hope to grow with both the speech clubs. Each serves me in a unique manner. From both I derive benefits that cannot be quantified. Not an articulate speaker, I most favour translating my thoughts into words here in my blog 😀