Macha is a very common word used in Chennai (Tamil Nadu). Some call it a slang. Some feel Macha means friend, some feel Macha means brother and Internet says the meaning of Macha is Brother in Law. Given below is the story of Sudhir who discovered what Macha means in Chennai:
#1 - When Sudhir was in twelfth standard two of his classmates (Raghul and Babbarjeet) discovered a reason to fight. A reason due to which both of them were throwing punches and kicks at each other. Some (including girls) were enjoying the moment while some (not including girls) were trying to stop them. But Raghul was in no mood to settle down and nor was Babbarjeet.
And then, as it happens generally in schools, the teachers caught them and put them through punishment (some good slaps in their faces) in front of all their classmates. After enough punishment the teacher asked, “Why were you fighting?”
Raghul said, “He called me Bhenc@##”.
The other students in the class laughed at Raghul. One of them said in front of the teacher, “So what was the big deal? It is common in Punjab”.
“Do you know what it means?” Raghul argued.
Teacher instructed that student to keep quiet and asked both Babbarjeet and Raghul to be friends again.
Raghul, who had recently shifted from Chennai to Ludhiana, had also had a fight with Surpal a few days ago when Surpal called him “Saale” and Raghul took it as an abuse but not a friendly term.
Interestingly, when he was in Chennai he would call every other guy “Macha” which (like ‘Saale’) means brother in law. Sadly, he did not know that Macha means, “Brother-in-Law”. All he knew was ‘Macha’ means good friend or close friend.
#2 – After many years Sudhir has now become a senior project engineer. Just a week ago he has temporarily shifted to Chennai for having a closer look at the project. Yesterday when he was sitting in his chair, a girl sitting next to him shouted with joy at a fellow colleague (RJS Mahalingam), “Hey Macha!”
As soon as she said this, Sudhir could not control his laughter. He remembered all the fights that Raghul had when he was in Punjab. And now he was in Chennai. May be someone someday comes and calls him, “Macha!” too.
Seeing Sudhir laugh, RJS Mahalingam felt something was wrong. He asked why Sudhir was laughing and Sudhir said, “She called you Macha and I thought Macha could be offensive”.
RJS Mahalingam asked Sudhir, “Macha means a friend. That’s all! What is so offensive about it?”
Sudhir - “I was told that you can’t say anyone a Macha”.
This time the girl named Mahamaheswari Kalyani (or M. Kalyani) said, “Someone informed you wrongly. Macha is very common in Chennai and you can say it to anyone”.
By this time Sudhir had understood that the feelings are getting hurt somewhere so better to be quiet.
#3 - Next day he decided to ask his neighbor what this Macha thing is all about. His neighbor was a 77 year old man who had moved to Chennai long back from some other city in Tamil Nadu.
Sudhir asked, “Uncle, I have seen lot of people calling each other 'Macha' in my office. I checked on internet this means brother in law. In my office they told me – this means friend. What is the actual meaning”.
Uncle - “The meaning I know is – Brother in Law. But the youngsters and some older ones too will call each other Macha and this denotes that they are close to each other. Like in Hindi you say – Saale. This does not mean the real thing. You can't be the husband of all your friend's sisters! Ha ha ha (uncle laughed)”
Sudhir - “In Hindi we say ‘Bhai’, ‘Dost’, ‘Bhaisaheb’, ‘Bhaiya’, 'Guru' etc. We never call any stranger as Saale. This is not as common a term for us. For the very close ones we have different terms that denote intimacy”.
Uncle - “You are right. That way we too have ‘Anna’, ‘Thambi’, ‘Thalaiva’ and many other words that you will see people speaking in Tamil”.
Sudhir - “Can this not be offensive if I call it (Macha) to just anyone? Does this not mean that Thambi (meaning younger brother) or Anna (older brother) are much better words to call a stranger. After all I cannot go to anyone saying ‘I am your sister’s husband’”.
Uncle – “It depends on how you deal with people. It also depends on what culture is followed at your place. For example, calling the older people by name is offensive in Hinduism but we call them by name in corporate world. Don’t we? Calling "Tu" could hurt people in some areas while some others may take it normally.
The “F” word is actually offensive but it is used very frequently in English movies. Offence is never in the term. Offense is never in the language or the tone. Offense is there inside the heart or mind of the person (the beholder). How he takes it. If you feel offended by being called “*#@%”, the problem is in your mind”.
Sudhir – “I got your point uncle. Thanks for this valuable knowledge and your precious time”.
Sudhir thanked his neighbor and came back to his room with a new approach.
Note: Sudhir is an imaginary character and so is this story. Any resemblance is a mere coincidence.
लाभस्तेषां जयस्तेषां कुतस्तेषां पराजयः I येषामिन्दीवरश्यामो हृदयस्थो जनार्दनः II