Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What ails us?

Some time back, I was shopping at the Bangalore Central Mall with my friend. There were a group of Malayalee newly weds too, shopping at the Foodworld. The moment the wives saw us, ie me and my friend, they suddenly went clingy …it looked like they expected us to make a grab of their hubbies and make a dash for it. Ignoring them we continued browsing and then my friend who had gone ahead into the cookware section turned around and shouted out to me that she had found something interesting….but the whole problem was...she spoke in Malayalam. She broke an unwritten rule…”never speak Malayalam with each other in Malls”. You will realize why as I get deeper into the narrative.[:p]

The atmosphere around us suddenly changed…the mallu couples froze for an instant and then with an inward groan I saw the all too familiar change in the couple’s attitude. The “lets show them we are as good or even better than them” attitude that dissects you and then shows you how much they are like you or better.

Espying my Reebok “Cheta, lets go over to the Nike section, I prefer Nike over Reebok”

Seeing my pals hooded jacket “You know, I prefer designer jackets, Ivide designer stores ille?
...etc.

My friend realized her mistake of speaking in Malayalam….I gave her a annoyed look and instinctively we started towards the lifts. We knew by experience that the situation would become really ugly and pathetic now as these folks would use every opportunity for empty showing off. And we were right as usual. The gals grabbed the guys and followed us. They get into the lift the loud talk designed for our ears starts again.

“I told Daddy to buy a Chevrolet, but he bought an Esteem tch”
“We are planning on a Skoda”
“So where are you going for vacations? We are planning on Mauritius”

By this time the guys were looking embarrassed especially when they saw that we were ignoring them. But the girls were still hysterically trying to drown their insecurities. We stumbled out of the lift and literally ran out of the mall. I was cursing my friend fluently because there was no way we could go back now without being hounded and i had not completed my shopping.

When we used to go to Kerala for our school vacations, my Dads car would attract the same hysterical reaction. We would have perfect strangers walking upto us, asking about the make of the car and then casually telling us that they were going in for a more expensive model. Sometimes the enquirer would be riding a cycle, but that didn’t matter, no way was he going to give us the satisfaction of basking in the satisfaction of having a certain car. Fed up of this my Dad devised a response “No this not my car, I cant afford one, someone lent this to me so that I can drive my rather large family down to Kerala.”

We kids were even coached not to talk about anything that would excite jealousy...we were not even allowed to take expensive toys with us, because my parents wanted to get back to Bangalore without exciting too much kannu kadi.

The Mall incident I have mentioned happens all the time. And this gives rise to the general impression people have of mallus, which make mallus try hard to show that they are not like the rest of the mallus by pretending they don’t know Malayalam, overdressing etc in a desperate attempt to ‘fit in’ and the vicious cycle continues.

( I have observed that Malayalees are a 'nervous' people. We get agitated very quickly. It must be genetic, I refuse to believe that it is because of social factors. Any opinions? )

41 comments:

emmanuel said...

hey,
nice one.......btw, i don't know whether i'll be the first to comment...i saw it blank...but don't know....someone may overtake me.....

i think we are the only community who are ashamed to say that we belong there.......i've not experienced such a situation.....until now....but my dad and mom have told about several instances.........more to laugh at and to think so deep and serious..........

We kids were even coached not to talk about anything that would excite jealousy... the same was with us.....

I have observed that Malayalees are a 'nervous' people. We get agitated very quickly. It must be genetic, I refuse to believe that it is because of social factors. Any opinions? ) ......even there i have the same thought .....but i shud say that it is a 'perfect' mix of social factors, upbringing and may b a bit genetic factor......

TheDawg said...

Hmm This is a new one. I know the kannu kadi thing. But is it this worse ? I mean it was funny the way you described it. But the sort of people you were describing are not that common are they ? Back here i think it is different . eg: you get a new car, there will be people who ask you why you didnt go for a better one. that makes about 30% of the people who comment. Then there will be admirers ( who might have something else going on inside ) . Then we have the people who wished they had made the wiser decision ( buy the same thing as you did ) and people who have already made the wiser decision ( buy a better one/ same as your thing ). Thats about it. No one pretends that they will buy a bater on or something. THey seem to realize the stupidity behind that kind of remarks. Nowadays , it seems that people wont buy the same thing as you did because they want to be different. They try to be diferent nowadays. That calls for a greater intellectual effort when they list the reasons if someone tells them "Oh ! you bought this ? hmm . " but it seems that its better than MINE IS GREATER THAN YOURS.

incaRed said...

I am not really sure about this phenomenon - maybe it's just that I did not get to meet the kind of Mallus you came across in life.

The Mallus I have come across have been fiercely proud of being Mallus. We speak only Malayalam amongst ourselves (in malls or otherwise) and are proud of our community.

Regarding kannu-kadi, I guess there will be jealous/envious people in all communities and thus a reasonable share among Mallus too.

Or, maybe this is a trait limited only to the female of the species. What say, Ms.Silverine ? :-)

silverine said...

emmanuel: Thanks for the first comment :) hmm I can see that you have experienced some of this.

the dawg and incared: I dont know which world you all live in but everyone knows this and this is a hot debating topic :)

p.s I am talking about both NRK's and people who have freshly arrived from Kerala, since we mallus don't have the typical diffidence of a newcomer and behave like we are in Kerala wherever we go. Which includes commenting on girls as they pass by, loud cackling and general misbehaviour in public.

TheDawg said...

aashik here ma'am. i live in kerala.

b v n said...

I think what ails us is nature, history and gulf money. this thingy you are talking about must be a result of the last two. we have become a kinda egalitarian society where even a coolie can dream of giving his kids good education and getting them a good job - here or in gulf - while rest of india is lagging behind by decades. A recent study said Oudh region of UP might take 140 yrs to reach the HDI we have. so when we have so many equal humans and everybody thinks anything is possible - there is no feudal divide like say zamindars are rich, we are poor,so worship them.

today Narayana Murthy got richer by another 1000 cr after the Infy ADR...but I'm not jealous...now if my batchmate bags a $250K job...i'll be a bit..'cause i think we're equals :)

Gulf money, along with saving kerala also exposed us to high end consumer goods before '91. so once '91 set in, we started buying 'Akai' tvs like hell. Do remember kerala spends one of the highest on consumer goods. we are so vain.

then this jealousy thing is not new, there are references in greek, roman myths n all. I didnt know mallu's jealousy is such a 'hot debating topic' :) other ppl are reading silver, show some regional chauvinism. *now dont shout at me* :))

poonaji said...

An article on malayalees

Mind Curry said...

oh boy..what an article..and why arent all these posts popping up on SK..sighh..would justify the DOC title.

what you said is reality at its best..i dont know how far our malayali brethren will be ready to read this and accept it..AND then change..and even if most of them said "yeah so true", i am sure its the same people who would keep doing such shameless things..

even on brigade road its so easy to spot a malayali..the way he ogles and goes "aliya..aa piecine kanda" types..i literally feel like throwing up myself..wonder how women suffer them. on the other hand, you typically described the mindset of the average malayali woman..wonder when we will all come out of our small world.

i kind of follow the rules..and most of my friends have been updated of this unwritten rule. at times i have felt ashamed to call myself a malayali..its reached that stage almost..i know statements like these bug our brethren..but its true.

incaRed said...

Madras (where I have been living for years) has a sizable Mallu population. And they are visible everywhere (mallus are easy to identify by facial features - a Silverine might be the odd exception to the rule :-) ) - be it malls, restaurants, offices etc. Don't recollect even one instance of the type mentioned in the post. And definitely none of the "making gestures at women", "a piece-ne kanda" kind of stuff.

One thing I have seen is that be it India or US or the moon, the moment two Mallus meet, they switch over to Malayalam. Am yet to see an exception to this anywhere.

Maybe its a B'lore thing, what with it being hyped as the Silicon City and all, people might tend to feel that they need to act snobbish to fit in.

BTW, nice article, poonaji. Not that I need it to reinforce my belief in things Malayalam.

silverine said...

thedawg: You are lucky to have escaped this phenomenon :))

bvn: Wokay I wont shout at you :p What you say is interesting but this "thingy" that I am talking about is due to nature and not history or money. Mallus cannot bear to see another person doing well :) And I think I have proved my regional chauvinism or lack of it quite amply ;)

poonaji: I have already read that one, it is someones private views :)

mind curry: *hugs* for being man enough to accept and admit and for never having the trouble to do so!! As a people we have to get comfy with the fact that we are Malayalees and that others are not bothered with how much money we have or how we look. Once we accept that then life will become easy for us. We also have to realise that we should blend into a society not try and stand out. This oneupmanship in every sphere on life has to stop. And this post at DOC? wow that is a compliment indeed :)

incared: I am afraid you have to be sensitive enough to notice these things. And mind curry has been pretty decent in his examples, I hear worst, sometimes I wonder if these guys are human at all to talk such filth. And Tamil Nadu/Chennai is a place mallus behave themselves or they risk getting beaten up. You cannot fool around in TN dear. The Tamils know how to treat a woman, unlike their more 'literate' neighbours :)

poonaji said...

"The Tamils know how to treat a woman, unlike their more 'literate' neighbours :) "

better kannadigas also beat us up, so that we can be good in bangalore also!

TheDawg said...

Oye ! Only the kannu kadi bit. all the things that MC talked about , they are still in full force. I have to endure all of this. What more the guys who speak out loud , they do it and thats it. The others , they talk about it and then they come back to the offices talk about it .... they behave like women. Again , if they see a girl with a guy on one day and another guy the next day.. the girl is "shady" =)) you have to come down here a bit to see the stuff.

And oh i disagree about two mallus meeting. Unless they are students , its highly unlikelythat they will talk in malayalam. Heck they will avoid talking in malayalam.I have experienced it first hand.

iyer education said...

i love the way mallu aunties like to flaunt their jewelleries at all possible occasions... they just love the fact that the kg weightage of their jewellery is about 0.00001 mg higher than the other aunty...

and however hard one tries... its easy to find out that one is a mallew... how? just listen carefully to words like UNGLE... SQWAYAR... TYONDI... ANDRED... ANDRED AND TYONDI and so on and so forth...

btw i am half mallu... so you can count ANDRED as fifty... TYONDI as ten and ANDRED AND TYONDI as sixty :)

Jiby said...

most of the expatriate mallus i have come across have been wonderful ppl so far...but i wud be really pissed and wud have done something to shame the couples u spoke abt if they crossed my path.

its not genetic, its more social and psychological...with theIT boom in blore so many young kids who never saw a world outside their towns or villages or at the most "big" cities like tvm or cochin have made their way to comparitive affluence in cosmopolitan cities like blore and they just lack the self-consciousness to realize what a fool they make of themselves.

my parents and grandparents keeps telling me a lot of our relatives are watching intently to see if i fall...maybe they cant digest the fact that my parents did well. like bvn said everyone there has an almost equal opportunity to succeed and the ones who are left behind are nervous or jealous, etc. the contrast between success and mediocrity in kerala is higher than any place else...thats why we see a lot of today's generation most of whom whose parents never made use of or never had the resources to make use of the opportunity so itching to compete, show-off, etc. the phenomenon u keep experiencing in blore has to do with the socio-economic-cultural setup of recent kerala history than anything else.

mathew said...

oh thats some good criticism..
i detest people who desperately try to shed there malayalee roots just to 'fit in' like you said.

“You know, I prefer designer jackets, Ivide designer stores ille? ”
Lol..We do such extreme exagerations for the sake of humour..but someone really saying something like that just to irk someone..Christ..forgive them!!

Bottomline is we love to bask in our insecurity..many of us find pleasure in someones peril..

TheDawg said...

Jiby Right on point yo ! I havent seen as many expats as you have. so..

LI said...

Hi Silverine , What you have written about is known as "The Crab Phenomenon" among Malayalees . When they export crabs from Kerala they dont close the box with a lid because each crab below is trying to pull down the one above ? . This is supposed to be genetic . So you are not the first one to notice it and mallus as we know most of us are dont wanted to be pulled down and hence are trained to lie low.

Scribbles said...

Not sure if I agree completely..
There are women, jealousy s at the tip of their nose... But I ve not generalized it as a mallu phenomena….Now am thinking if it is 
There are cousins whom my mom is afraid of…whether they’d ward their evil eye on us…
Also, I think jealousy arises between equals or whom u consider equal…as bvn rightly quoted abt Narayan Murthy and a colleague…
In Kerala there was not a major difference, economic difference, between people…so when I buy a new car, the lady of the next house wud need to let me know that she is not far behind…
In fact this is one point which my mom reminds me even now…Wherever I go…
She asks me to live within my means and how I need to live…and not impress anyone around or be influenced by their style 
But even in my northie colleagues I have noticed this nature… Especially when it comes to the pomp and glory of weddings… They explain the photographs saying that this gaaghra cost xxxxx bucks etc etc…
-Vaish

silverine said...

Poonaji: In the 80's and 90's mallus getting beaten up was common news. Today Blr is a city of expats, no one bothers. Besides landlords are strict too so they behave around their homes but come to Brigade Raod or MG Road to misbehave.

thedawg: Absolutely!!! My non mallu pals often ask me why mallu men are so feminine!!

Jiby: It really gladdens me when I see mallus who are normal!
"my parents and grandparents keeps telling me a lot of our relatives are watching intently to see if i fall" Exact same situation here. They cant digest my Dads success, nor the fact that there is no infighting in the house or that we are not drug addicts and I am not promiscous :p You know recently a car full of mallu ladies from Kerala, shopping in Blr were nearly slippered because they passsed comments at a group of girls? Pointing fingers, giggling and commenting at others is a State trait!

iyer education: LOL

mathew: Me too. I detest the inikku malayalam kurichu kurichu ariyam" crowd! And the conversation I have mentioned here really happened.I dont understand what was the need to impress me, a total stranger!

Li: Yeah we do want to pull everyone down...look at the commies, outstanding examples of the same.

scribbles: hmmm this is not about what you have mentioned. This is the tendency to not let A have the satisfaction of owning what B does not have.So if A has a car, then B will tell him that his cousin has a bettr car :))

Mind Curry said...

i dont know why any one reasonable would not accept things as they are..possibly because of the "false prestige"..and one big thing i hate about keralites is the way they shudder at their "public" image. worried what the "society" will say...little do they realize that THEY make the society..

anyway plenty of thoughts on this..

and yeah..was serious about the DOC post..do it if you can..but be ready for the omelettes :)

b v n said...

Too bad its not because of history or money :(...being by nature think there is no way out. The notion of 3 cr people viciously jealous of one another is so scary. That I plan to settle down there and nowhere else makes it even more scary. maybe this is why kerala is so green :)

poonaji said...

i dont know much about telugu, kannada guys.. but atleast in films they dont respect women..!

The only problem with mallu guys - is probably bird watching in brigade roads.. while the other guys are smart enough to take girls to pubs..

we mallu-guys are like "amir khan's" gang in "Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar"..

silverine said...

bvn: Best of luck :))

Anoop:I am talking about TN only here as that reply was for IncaRed. Try any stunts with women in TN and you are dead meat. Lots of guys bird watch in MG and Brigade road but they dont speak the filth that mallus speak. You got to be a woman to exp it. I never write anything without solid evidence or first hand experience.

poonaji said...

:) i am arguing only for the sake of arguing

i omitted TN.., because i am living in TN now.. ( u r true, here people respect women well. )

also they will kick me, if they speak against TN also.. let me keep quiet as "mulla periyar" is also getting HOT here!

Thanu said...

Alpan Ardha Raathriyilum koda Pidikkum

alex said...

Well, what you have posted is a valid characteristic. Cant disagree there.

Maybe its because people are too conscious of what other people say or probably they wanted to appear 'high and mighty'.

I have never had any reason not to talk in malayalam. Because i enjoy speaking in that.

And people showing off is a kind of pretence which some people cannt see through.

Probably they are people who lack self confidence.

G said...

Okay, that first part had me chuckling away to kingdom come. The imagery of you and your friend grabbing arbit Mallu males and usurping away from their female halves is hysterical, when you think about it.

Espying my Reebok - There is a reason I like Adidas and Puma. Even if people who spotted them liked them more than Nike, they wouldn't say so :P

Seeing my pals hooded jacket Gangsta Mallu, eh? What fun!

Chevrolet, Esteem tch, Skoda & Mauritius - I'm still chuckling. Don't ask me why.

I have observed that Malayalees are a 'nervous' people. We get agitated very quickly - Hell yeah. Simply cause they wouldn't have it any other way. A Mallu who didn't react like that would normally be -a) an extra from the movie Coma, b) an extra from the movie Saving P{rivate Ryan (dead) and c) a tourist.

Good stuff though, Silv. Chuckalicious!

Anonymous said...

Silverine,
I see another phenom in this post,
Mallus brought up any where outside of Kerala(but within India) looking down on other Mallus. Bottomline is that even before you heard the girls you had them branded as not sophisticated enough .

I have been here in US for the past 10 years, have seen some very simple girls from Kerala and very stylish ones too... but I have definitely not seen the kind of behaviour you have mentioned.

This was a catty and immature post,very girly too I might add,
reminded me of some teenage girls here in US.
Nimi

silverine said...

Poonaji: Nothing will happen to you in TN, but in Ktka it will be a diff story altogether.

thanu: :)

Alex: Thank you, and very true, mallus have the tendency to show off in front of other mallus, just yesterday I was standing in front of my parked car waiting for my friend when two mallu gals kept walking up and down furiously talking loudly about the car their hubbies drove so that I hear it. The rosary in my car gave me off as mallu :p How ironic that it happens soon after this post :))

G: Thank you :))

Anon:You were in the US and you know what is happening in India right now? Wow!!I guess you are telepathic so you must have seen how the girls were dressed and heard the loud talk and the other shoppers staring etc? Bravo dear, next time swallow your bitterness of being one of these kind in a more mature way than leaving an immature and catty comment like teenage girls in the US :P
p.s you just made my day, I love to bug people LOL :))

alex said...

Nice template! :)


PS: I use this one too! Earthly look. ;))

abhishek said...

"( I have observed that Malayalees are a 'nervous' people. We get agitated very quickly. It must be genetic, I refuse to believe that it is because of social factors. Any opinions? )"

Wow, you drilled down to the essence pretty quickly.
As a people, our egos are more fragile than any other culture's. It's a major inferiority complex in my opinion.
For example, my Dad never tells anyone that my brother and I work and study in the U.S., unless he's asked, because he's learnt pretty quickly that people are not genuinely interested; they're just looking for a juvenile contest:
"Sir-inde makal enthu cheyinnu?"
"Muuthavan America-yil joli cheyinnu...eleyavan avide padikinnu."
"oh, ende makalum barthavam anga indianopolis-ila. Athu ariyo evide anennu?"
He could also have been saying, "Score 1-0 for me, bia*** "

What happens when people who are deprived are suddenly loaded with money? They make tactless, tacky and gauche choices. Oh, but what a sight they are.... It's like an everyday circus.

silverine said...

Alex: Thank you :)

Abhishek: You did a better job than me by capturing the thought behind this post in that comment. That is exactly what I was trying to say...it is a juvenile contest all the way!!! Thank you so much for this comment!!

Ganja Turtle said...

wow...ij it jus the women or do Mall men do this too? Amazing insights - I know what to do next time when am in a mall!

On behalf of the neighbours allow me to say tks for the "Tamil compliments"...partly deserved,partly not (not sure if you know about the Khushboo apology incident!)

@poonaji...nah...the dams just an excuse to kick up some local rabble...Tamils are too busy wondering about votebanks and their wimmen to think about beating up others,re...;-)

Ganja Turtle said...

Catty,girly,teeny,naughty,naughty.....the things that ur upto these days,woman...tch tch!

mathew said...

just thought of the malayalam movie 'Mukundetta sumithra vilikunnu'...The character Nedumudi Venu plays in it is a picture perfect example of "kannu kadi"..

Venu does a superb take on this attitude which many of us flaunt without batting a eyelid.

Anonymous said...

I am an ardent reader of both your blogs.But,this is a post you could have avoided.It sounded more like a 'Gossip session'.Pls don't mind Silverine........

Lekshmy

silverine said...

Lekshmy: Nice to know you read my blogs. :) And I dont mind your comment...you are entitled to your views as are the many people who wrote to me saying that I did the right thing to bring a sticky subject to fore :)

Jeseem said...

hey , u must be very stunning and cool. no wonder girls are getting jealeous :)

people who do such comparisons have usually a very myiopic view of the world ( they haven't seen enough, i guess) and in this myopic view, they are the best in everything. if they find smthing that that threatens there small world balance, then they will try that the new amazing beauty 'you' is not good as it looks or has deep hidden faults. ofcourse as long as u r not a mallu, u don't threaten their world

silverine said...

Jeseem: You are absoluetely right. You know I have always written things as I see it. So I am surprised at the reaction. I have only one explanation. Some people are too used to shutting up people who speak out!

Karthik said...

@iyer education: ROFL

sanjana said...

hey this is nice post...I am in australia and a half mal and frm blore. this is a typical conversation who can hear in malls....u r so damn right...i could relate to you when in terms of visiting kerala...but i feel we are more adaptable people than others.....but yes kanukadi i agree...nice post..i am missing blore :((