The other day, on my way to attend the evening prayers, I saw this procession. I followed, ever engrossed in prayers until I found myself right outside a beverage shop. What I thought was the procession was, in fact, the well-disciplined line of the lungi-clad folks known to most North Indians as the arrogant Malayalees. It was not so hard to believe then the many disturbing stories that I had heard of men such as these. Pregnant with cheap whiskey and fat-oozing meat, they, with their unwashed curly hair pasted back onto the head with thick coconut oil, repulsed me. But little did I know that, like every other Malayalee, I soon would be drawn to this same line some ten years later.
If it is the green hills of Munnar, the lush fertile plains of Kuttanad, the illustrious backwaters of Alappuzha, and the heritage of Fort Kochi that makes Kerala the most desired travel locations in India, it is us, the Malayalees, who keep the tourists away. In our pursuit to attain the highest literacy rate, we have lost the simple niceties that made us who we were. We have now reduced, though well-educated, to a bunch of Marxist fishmongers who pelt stones to disagree. If on rare occasions we do agree, it is done solely through hand gestures, the occasional wobbling of the head, the posture, and through our grunts and snorts. We have traded away the art of conversation for verbal convenience.
Ten years ago, anyone from south India was labeled Madrasi in North India. Perhaps something to do with our love for dosas and chutney, I believe. This was not good, but definitely not as bad as we convinced ourselves. We Malayalees have gone out of our way, taken hard efforts to get this sorted, to make a name for ourselves, and stand apart. And we do stand apart so that the rest of India can mock us. We have rightly got ourselves named The Malayalees.
There is this popular joke that my friend used to bore me with during our long drives. What happens if you make a team with two Biharis, two Bengalis, and one Punjabi? The answers vary. But this is mine – The two Biharis will construct a building. The Punjabi dons a cloth over it, call it a restaurant, and starts cooking. One of the two Bengalis will call himself the owner and the other will beat him to death, citing the many rules of Marxism for ownership.
That’s that. But what happens when you make a team of five Malayalees?
A group of Malayalee sitting together has achieved absolutely nothing. Our state assembly is perhaps the most ideal of examples.
That’s that. But what happens when you make a team of five Malayalees? Nothing. A group of Malayalee sitting together has achieved absolutely nothing. Our state assembly is perhaps the most ideal of examples. Another point to mention here is their hesitation to speak Malayalam. Even when they know that the team that they are in consists of only Malayalees, they refrain from speaking Malayalam, in hopes that a few English words would give them the right to rein superiority. There are two kinds of Malayalees on occasions such as this – the one who does not give up pretending and the one who has already succumbed to his lazy self. The pretenders, who often enjoy the slice of luck, then pack their bags to Gulf, promising to visit the others often with a bag of goodies which include a Brut spray, the Axe gel, Leather Luxury Bar Soap, and some Bermuda and slippers. The others become politicians.
The world of a Malayalee is a difficult one and most would shuffle in their seats on irritation reading this, but being Malayalees, he cannot care any less lest it affects the digestion of the rice and kootaan he had for lunch.