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? ”
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? )