Neengal eppadi irukingal?' Jeremiah
Joseph Gerard Neff, in short Jerry, starts the
conversation over the instant messenger. Jerry is an American
born in Tijuana, Mexico. Having roots from Ireland, France
& Germany and a Tamil wife from Singapore, Jerry is truly
Amazingly, this 27-year-old school teacher
is fascinated by Tamil songs and Tamil movies. When he
was in the university with Poongothai, his wife, he happened
to listen to some Tamil cassettes in her room. Jerry developed
an interest for them, and now he is trying to build a
Tamil MP3 library, while Poongothai collects Tamil books
for her humble library.
Jerry names his favourite music directors as Ilayaraja,
A.R.Rahman, Deva, and Kunnakudi. Interestingly,
Jerry and Poongothai
played 'Netru illatha matram' song from Puthiya mugam
at their wedding in Hawaii. A list of Jerry's favourite
movies includes Duet, Muthalvan, Mann Vasanai, Minsara
Kanavu, and Veedu,….and his favourite directors are K.Balachandar,
Bharathi Raja, Maniratnam, Balu Mahendra and Shankar.
He says these directors have a unique style of film-making
and story telling. Jerry even knows some dialogues from
the original Parasakthi. It seems Sivaji
impressed him a lot in movies like Puthiya Paravai and
Jerry learnt Tamil through listening to
Poongothai and by using a "Tamil alphabet" chart. When
asked about Tamil he says, ''It's not an easy language
but it is interesting. I know it's been around for a long
Jerry has visited Tamil Nadu twice and is
fascinated by it. He has traveled all over the state from
Chennai to Kanyakumari along with Poongothai. He feels
that Tamils are very warm, hospitable and also very proud
of their culture. Incidentally, Poongothai has a little
story behind her. Her grandfather went to Malaysia from
Mamsapuram, a village
near Srivilliputtur in his early stages. As he died young,
his family lost contact with his folks back home. Though
Poongothai has traveled a lot in Tamil Nadu, she has not
visited Mamsapuram where she has her paternal roots. Her
mother's family is from Madurai.
Having been married for 5 years now, cultural and religious
differences do not affect Jerry, as he is a very open-minded
person. When it comes to religion, he respects the beliefs
of other faiths.
Jerry does not have any compelling ambitions
except that he wants to lead a happy and peaceful life.
Jerry shares his opinion on Tamil culture: ''I'm amazed
by the longevity and resiliency of the Tamils, yet the
world knows so little about the wealth and richness of
their language and culture. After all, they came before
the Roman Empire and are still going strong!"
Jerry, you have made us proud!
Nilacharal wishes Jerry and Poongothai
all the very best for a happy and peaceful future!