Monday, August 07, 2006

The ‘returning’ Malayalees



There is something I have noticed amongst us Malayalees, right from the time I was as a kid. Something strange, that perplexed me very much. On our regular visits to Kerala, we would inevitably bump into a lot of NRK’s who were also down for the vacations like us. Whether it was the usual meeting at Church, weddings or visits, what struck me as strange was a refrain that was said very eagerly the moment you met an NRK. And this was “We are going back in 10 days” or a week or some number. This was perhaps the most common thing you heard from these people. It was said very eagerly, almost as if they were reassuring themselves. The reason it perplexed me was because I knew that all NRKs looked forward to visiting Kerala.

Perhaps the visit sparks off memories of realities that were theirs not so long ago and the thought of returning back to their place of employment is kind of reassuring. I don’t know. I found an interesting article today in
The Hindu. It answers my query somewhat. Any other plausible explanations?

15 comments:

kosh said...

couldnt resist the chance to be the first to post!! :) :)

coming back... to the feeling of not belonging anywhere... i guess its commonplace amongst those who leave their roots behind... rather like a spliced tree, huh?

Sreejith Kumar said...

There is often this exacerbating comment these NoRKs receive from their clan "When are you going back?" from the time they debark! That was a cushy article in the Hindu.....

silverine said...

Kosh: Thank you for the first comment :) Mebe it is the camarederie of an immigrant native.

sreejith: Actually I hear it from the NRK's themselves.

neihal said...

I think we can never cut ourselves completely from our roots.when we leave our native land. we feel disrooted. there is a constant struggle to "fit in" the new land. and a constant struggle to conserve our past. the generations before us were struggling, so are we and same will hold true for Gen next.

b v n said...

Silverine,there is this beautiful bertolucci movie where the last emperor of china(he was a kid then) visits his palace after years of communism.He is no more a king and stands in line to see the palace-museum.Nobody recognizes him,but he recognizes the 'last emperors' toys.he is a nobody,kinda stranger in own land.

all these first generation NRKs would have been kings in their small suburbs in kerala.they knew every household,every kid on the street,every shop keeper when they stayed here and everybody knew them.

on return visits its the strangeness that hurts the most,you need an introduction in the place you hold so close to your heart.then you reassure and escape saying i belong somewhere else,this is just a pit-stop and i'm catching the flight.while sad part is you dont belong anywhere anymore.

think so :)

mathew said...

yeah it was a inssightful article..
This happens to malayalees put up elsewhere in our own country as well..But certainly on a smaller extent!!

What hurts a gulf returnee the most is the persistent question of "When goin back??"..that defintely hurts!!

Sreejith said...

Thanks for the link to the hindu. Sad that i never get to read such insightful articles in the times of India i get here.

silverine said...

Niehal: I think this present generation will not have to struggle much :)

b v n: That makes sense.About being a stranger in your own land and hence the feeling of not belonging and thus the constant talk of going back!

Mathew: I guess you are right too, but I guess it is a given thing i.e going back and hence people want to know the date. But I have heard that this question was asked with fear too as many would not go back which meant unemployment :)

sreejith: Hindu is one of the few papers left that still believes in journalism.

Connor's Corner said...

I agree with most of the comments put up here, in response to the article... Being a 2nd generation NoRK the constant "when are you going back?" the minute i step outside the plane... does get to you! I look at my parents, and I go... "Woah! Are you sure you came to the rite place??? 'Coz they don't seem to need you here!"

For the first generation NoRK, yeah they try VERY hard to hold on to anything that resembles how things were back home, even if "back home" viewpoints have changed in the past few years... Most of the NoRKs have obviously left kerala for better financial prospects, however I can say for a fact that they envision settling down finally in Kerala, the land of their memories.. though many of those memories may cease to exist in the minds of those left back... tragic.. but so is life...

silverine said...

connors cornor:Always had a doubt that you were a mal, now it is confirmed :) What you say makes sense. About people asking you when you are going back,I think it is mere curiosity and not with an intention to appear eager to pack you off :))

Jeseem said...

visiting kerala for short trips is good. meet relatives, eat some jack fruit and podiarre kanjee, admire its beauty and cleanliness. But living there for long is entirely different story. Bandhs, powercuts, demanding relatives, everything closes down at 8pm and myopic viewpoint of people, a place where everyone thinks he is most perfect person and has a right to advice/guide everyone else.

For NRKs, kerala is all that is traditional about us, but we have all moved on, become more broadminded, different and tolerant to other cultures. So large doses of kerala are not easily swallowable.
I fondly remember long train journeys to kerala during school vacation, but have no so good memories of my college and first job there. Regarding settling down , bangy maybe, kerala firm no.

I frankly never understood this feeling of belonging or root. If you are bred in two different cultures, you have the best of both and have learnt from both. Isn't it better than being in one closed culture. and when you go to new places, you make new roots to it, not live in memory of your old roots.agreed you can't completely merge, but do u have to ?

silverine said...

Jeseem: You have given the best possible answer to my question!!! It is difficult to adjust to Kerala when you have tasted a better life. That was indeed a very insightful observation :)

Anoop G said...

May be some people like me always want to be in the "comfort zone"

Now for me - its seven months away from kerala - and is already suffocating.

May be Chennai is not better than Kerala.

Perhaps I should look for more good places !

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