Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The great mallu vanishing trick.

I was recently talking to couple of my cousins who were staying with us for their IIM interviews. Both of them were relieved to be out of Kerala and on their way to a dynamic career after IIM. This and a couple of things I noticed in my visits to Kerala set me thinking.

On my last visit to Kerala I went to all the kaarnavaru’s houses. Most of these elegant Tharavadu homes were bereft with just the old couple and maybe an attendant. Their kids were settled outside Kerala and the grandkids were occasional visitors. Many of them didn’t even know Malayalam. Many were grown up and married to non mallus. This is the case in many homes. The able bodied generation has drained out of the State to look for employment never to return. And the political climate prevalent in Kerala prevent the many who long to come back to settle down in their naadu.

The Kerala of today is the nursery of India. Kids are born, educated and then sent out to staff the various companies big and small outside Kerala. They later settle down outside only to return as Non Resident Keralites (NRK) for festivals, weddings and other general visits. Kerala is left with a fast aging generation and many homes are now left with old people and fading memories. Soon this generation will pass away and the Tharavadu’s will be sold to developers.

The scenario appears bleak to me. I think Malayalees as a people, culture and language will cease to exist if not in the immediate future then by the end of this century. I shudder to think of the ancestral homes turned into resorts and hotels by outsiders. Imagine living in a home-stay called Illikal House that is run by some Sharma offering ‘authentic’ Kerala homestead experience? The very thought breaks my heart. Maybe I am not aware of the realities in Kerala but when I see scores of young people going out of Kerala never to return I feel apprehensive of the fate of Kerala.

I wish the Kerala government and people realize that they should make the state a refuge for Malayalees to return and pave the way for the preservation of the Malayalees. Hope Information Technology will come as a savior for our State with our youth finding jobs in the tech parks of Kochi, Trivandrum etc. I love the Malayalam language, culture, heritage, which is ours from centuries. I do not want to lose it. But I do not know how we can stem the slide to oblivion.

This post is a result of an uneasiness that has been eating into me for some time.

(p.s. I do not want the Tamils, Kannadigas or Punjabi’s too meet similar fates. Each of these cultures should be preserved. But these people do not face the same problems mallus face when they think of returning to Kerala)


Matter of Choice said...

Dont be so pessimistic...things wont come out as bad as you think it will :)

Plus...changes do is such a change which created our language and identity!

An Optimist

Dr. Pissed said...

Not to sound rude or anything, but even i wish for the same thing for all malyalees.
At the rate the race is going [read: spreading], there'll be a little kerala across the world.

We mangys are no better. We're following in the malayalees footsteps. The Indian Airline flight to Sharjah is packed with just the two of our cultures. I can almost give that to you in writing.

I really think its more of a problem to the rest of the world than our designated "home" cities.

quills said...

Addressing your concern about losing our heritage, I feel there is hope, what with certain sectors booming in Tier 1 cities and a lot of NRIs returning. Although the vast majority of Keralites returning are settling in the above cities, with growth and development that is currently happening in Kerala and will hopefully continue inspite of protests against foreign investments and ventures, it is possible that NRKs will return to Kerala. Ultimately there is no place like home.

Even here in NA, I see many families insisting that their kids learn their culture and language which is great. So in a way, it does not matter which part of the world you are, as long as you are in tune with your traditional heritage.

Mind Curry said...

absolutely fantastic addresses the core impact of the attitude of malayalis.

such a situation is a possibility only because of the attitude of the malayalis themselves. i am so disgusted at times thinking about it. and after writing a post, i am depressed for a couple of days that i cannot write anything more on such topics! :)

its not really about malayalis in some other country upholding the kerala banner and culture, but the plight in kerala itself thats saddening. we talk so much about God's Own Country and try to bring in tourists, but we ourselves are unable live a good life in our state.

Jagan said...

our parents/grandparents moved from villages to cities in search of better opportunities .And now , ppl are moving to abroad for better opportunities .so ther isnt much wrong with it .

Immigrant in Canada said...

I know exactly what you mean by vanishing Malayalees. I am one of them. I am a Malaysian, now live in Canada. I was lucky to spend few years in Kerala, so I learned my culture and language... But my kids, they have never been to kerala,they don't speak Malayalam( no I am not proud, I am disppointed in my own inability to teach them malayalam). I would never go back to kerala, my tharavadu is long gone..I am a lost malayalee soul..

silverine said...

@Moc: I am not talking about chnage here. I am talking about the flight of people from Kerala.
@drpissed: The mangy can go back and settle in Mangalore. Many do. But it different with the malayalees. It is very difficult to adjust to the situation in Kerala. In fact most mallu's would actually like to go back compared to the other communities settled here.
@Quills: Let's hope so :)
@mindcurry: I was waiting for your reaction and am relieved that you agree. The reason being that you look at the larger picture when it comes to Kerala. I just hope the new generation in Kerala will evolve to be better citizens and save the Malayalee culture and language.
@immigrant in canada: That is exactly what I was trying to say. It is a lost generation. If situation was different in Kerala I am sure many people would like to come back and settle down here.

Jiby said...

thanks for letting me know about this blog too...what you wrote is true to the core...even I have wondered where kerala and keralites are can say i thought abt my future generations too when i returned home...i can track my heritage back 500 years and i am proud of it...i want my future generations to also be able to choose between kerala and the rest of the world like i was able to choose. i might sound like an idiot to many people about what i wrote above but then thats me.

ultimately, i wonder if i'll also be defeated...your life gets measured by either your achievements or your the moment kerala offers scope for neither to most of our youth and they are left with no option but to fly away!

great post...silverine...plz keep writing on such issues!

Babin said...

Very True Silverine. The issue you are raising is something that need drastic attention. I don't know why our media is not paying needed attention to it.
If I want to meet up my friends that I went to school with in kerala, I am better of going to Bangalore than my own home town!
Another trend that disturbs me is the number of 'male' friends/cousins that I know who are studying nursing, just to get out the country. I wouldn't mind if they are doing it because they love the profession. But these folks absolutely hate nursing and only reason that they take this major is out of despair.

silverine said...

>>Jiby: ...your life gets measured by either your achievements or your the moment kerala offers scope for neither You just summed up the whole thing so succintly.What a tragedy that a State that creates on of the best talent pool is not able to retain them. I too hope like you that the future generations will be able to choose between Kerala and the rest of the world...and soon. Thanks Jiby for that comment. And this blog is dedicated to issue that troube me lol
>>Babin: Welcome to my blog. The main idea of education in Kerala is to get a job outside, which is natural as the kids are quite fed up of things happening around them by the time they pass out of college, besides the lack of job opportunites in the state. What you say is disturbing...but I guess these people have no go. It's either stay and rot or grab any tenous thread to haul themselves out of the mire.

Nikhil Narayanan said...

Totally agree with u

Anonymous said...

If you are a software engineer, cool!! Can work still in Kerala. Other stuffs all washed down the drains by politics.

Anonymous said...

I think there is not place except maybe Bangalore that is better than Kerala in India. I was abroad but now in Kerala working in IT, love to be back in Kerala. Only IT field is prospering in Kerala now, others have long gone. Dont know when it will also be affected by the cancer of politics?

Anonymous said...

I think there is no place except maybe Bangalore that is better than Kerala in India. I was abroad but now in Kerala working in IT, love to be back in Kerala. Dont like to go away to other place in India. Only IT field is prospering in Kerala now, others have long gone. Dont know when it will also be affected by the cancer of politics?

Anonymous said...

wow!!, i was trying to get some piece of kerala, if we are not able to go there, let me explain, I am building a house and thought to have a typial taravad name. Now you know how I reached here.

I completly agree with you, and I am really feeling the heat, when I observe my kids.

If somebody can help me, get a good name for my home,


silverine said...

Nikhs: :)

Anon 123: Hope the cancer of politics afflicting Kerala be cured :)

Anon at 6:15 pm: Thank you and so nice to know that you are building a Tharavadu style house. Name it after your family name, like olden days :)

Anonymous said...

Hi silverine,

Thanks for the suggestion, you know then its going to clash, which tharavad, mine or my better half, then parents would interfere, i am looking for a neutral name,


silverine said...

Anon: That is very sweet of you to think of your wife too :) How about your kids name if you have any? Actually any name in Malayalam like for a flower will be unique.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the suggestion, i was just pre-empting problems ok, I have 2 kids (3Y G and 1Y B), I do not create a difference with them as well. well we have decided to name the house "Sparsha", i hope you guys like this name, things are getting to hectic for the function.

Have a great weekend guys, we have such fantastic weather in Bangalore,


silverine said...

I think it is a great name :) 'Sparsha' means touch, so it sounds just great. Here's wishing you happy times in your new home !

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot, the housewarming went on well, we plan to move to our new house by end of this month

Sachin R K said...

The Mohan Lal starrer Varavelpu highlighted this perfectly. It was about a Gulf returnee who comes to Kerala thinking of setting up a business here. As an aside, the film ends with him deciding to return to Gulf after losing his life savings in Kerala.

silverine said...

Sachin: I have seen the movie. Highlights things so clearly!!

Anonymous said...

hi, u r cent percent correct. i feel bad when developers and other rich people from other states owns kerala. nowadays even foreigners doing business in kerala, expoliting our tradition and culture. we must thing on it. the people of kerala itself are the main reason for this. they are becoming more selfish and selfish.

lekha said...

silverine, your post touched a chord - what you have said is so true. our family home in palakkad is in the process of being valued for its property value - what the members dont seem to understand is that there is no value that can be put on the centuries old taravad that stands on this property - no one seems to want to preserve our common cultural heritage. the family is large and scattered and if and when the property is sold, the individual share of members is going to be a small amount - and by god's grace, no one in this family really needs this money - but still, there's a surprising lack of motivation in preserving the house - and for me as one single lone dissenting voice, it's not easy -

there is a scheme by the kerala government called grihasthali
which is the answer to all such concerns - but guess what - even here, there's no unity - the elders feel that youngsters have no business interfering in such things!

i'm currently feeling all the powerlessness and frustration of not having the resources to take on the place as an individual - if anyone knows of ways and means to at least preserve the house, even if it means giving it out on lease to an institution or something, do respond with your suggestions.

Prasad said...

A nice blog indeed. I sometime feel frustrated that being born in Kerala I cannot stay there and work there and earn my livelihood. I have to travel approx. 2700 kms from my Native place to earn my livelihood. Had the dirty politics been not there I too would have been doing a decent job there. The only Industry which I see which thrives in Kerala is Real Estate and Jewellery.

silverine said...

Prasad: I dont know what to say...I feeel bad too... And I understand what you are going through

Anon: You are right...the politicians are the first to be blamed followed by the people for blindly following them.

Lekha: That's a tragedy...a big loss! :( Hope you found your answers!