Thursday, January 18, 2007

The new kids of the South block

One of the most endearing things I have noticed, since I started working is a universal love for “Malayalam” among my southie colleagues. The moment they come to know I am a Malayalee, there are frequent requests for help with Malayalam words and a concerted effort to talk to me in Malayalam, mostly to learn or improve their Malayalam. And I am not talking of the guys only but gals too. The interest to learn Malayalam is almost universal here in Bangalore, at least in the IT companies and the enthusiasm very infectious.

There is also a respect when people know you are a Malayalee and an indulgent and affectionate acceptance of the Malayalam accent. In fact unlike some time ago, the accent is now a matter of pride for people who have mastered it. And here in this office I have a Tamil colleague, who is an ace in this. He is much admired for the authentic “Malayalam English” Malayalam Tamil” and Malayalam Kannada” that he can speak like a true Malayalee. The Malayalam way of speaking “English” like “zimble” and “olymbics” etc is common lingo and sometimes we have these “manglish” sessions which instead of invoking laughter invokes pride if you get it right!

In my Internal Messenger I won’t be surprised if someone suddenly messages asking for the Malayalam word for something. In fact it is routine. And if it is ‘colourful’ words they are looking for I direct them to my brother because my repertoire in this is area is limited to “patti” (dog) and “nayinde mon” (son of a dog) :p.

There is so much affection and curiosity about Malayalees nowadays. Almost like we are the new kids of the South block. Be it the language, the food, the culture, temples, towns...people just can't get enough. And the trouble people take to learn the language, is so heartwarming. Maybe because it is a difficult language to learn and hence poses a challenge or maybe not, but the interest nevertheless, is heart warming. One senior colleague of mine, a very respected software architect, insists on talking to me in Malayalam so that he can get used to it. And when I am talking to fellow mallus in Malayalam, I have people listening to me keenly as they feel it sounds very nice.

What can I say but I feel so proud. I do not know the origin of this interest in Malayalam and all things Malayalee, but it sure feels good.

It is almost as if people have suddenly woken upto "The Malayalee"


Neihal said...

It has to do with the pride and the respect the mallus have for their roots, their heritage and for themselves as a community.
The same goes for any set of ppl from any community, race or region etc.
The bottomline is to understand and respect your roots.
I am glad for you and hope I'll be able to say the same one day for myself.

silverine said...

neihal: That was such a sweet thing to say thank you :)

Alexis said...

That is a nice and new development. When I was working (some 12 years back) the only things that were common knowledge among all was the colorful words :-)

It is nice to know that people are really interested in Malayalam. As you have mentioned, may be the difficulty in learning it is the challenge... Good for the language...

alex said...

Sure :)

It is a difficult language; which entices the interest from different people all over.

Moreover, the actual Malayalam is not clear to me, though i had spent almost 15 years in Kerala.

It makes me proud too! :)

alex said...

LoL...i just saw the switch of name form silverine to anjali! :)

Miss silverine! ;))

G said...

heh all this talk of accents reminds me of a real-life incident.

My pal S is as Tam-Bram as they come and in a moment of madness left the safe confines of Simbly South and went to Delhi to work.

S, bein Tamizh, spoke hindi surprisingly well albeit with a bit of a southie accent.

S, by virtue of working in Delhi was surrounded by Northie people and one of them, who I am sure is called Vicky or Happy, one day said to him 'yaar S, tum hindi mei baat mat karo. yaar bahut accent hai tumhara'

To which,my dear friend S, bless his sambar roots said 'Why? Do I complain when you speak in English??'

Needless to say Vicky or Happy never broached the subject again.

Haha, Go South!!!!

Pradeep said...

Looking back, it was the Mallus and Bongs who dominated the power centres. Many PSU in the early 60s were full of Mallus... Only now it has begun to change. Somehow, I guess, there's a feeling, esp in the North, that Malls are well-educated, and know English well. Plus, their willingness to travel anywhere and work hard. All this put together has generated some amount of curiosity.... and that perhaps continues.

Madhusoodhanan said...

Hi Silverine,
Your writing style is really good. I've been spending my past 2 weeks going through everyone of your posts in the archive. Actually you might get me fired here. Get ready to be sued :O

Sabu (Morgan Chase) said...

It is almost as if people have suddenly woken upto the Malayalee

That my dear sums up the whole thing so well! :-)

Remember me?

Nariyal Chutney said...

Thanks to Lolakkuttyy , Channel V and the entire troup in Channel V that comes wearing a Mundu . There is a lot of curiousity in North India as well. However it is pretty hard to teach North Indians that fellow southies from Karnataka , Tamland and AP :)

Synapse said...

viva la kerala!! :)
or was it vive le kerala??

Dhanush said...

I have a American colleague in US who is very much interested in Malayalam Words. Hope this time he has reached Cochin and asked for some "Kallu". He speaks a few sentences in Hindi and also in Malayalam. Thanks to the wide Indian presence at our company in the US

Praveen said...

i actually havent observed this mallu thing, but as a fellow mallu i shall take your word for it with pride ;)

mathew said...

Lol..everytime i make a acquaintance with someone from north it is interesting to put a challenge..Make them pronounce "Mazha Veyunnu Madhalam kottunnu" and "kozhikode"..That is zimbly mallu!!!

Jeseem said...

esend a few mye waeys. mye Malayalam is soo good, that they will forget all grammar.

very curious trend. had never heard about it before.

pearl said...

Great to hear of this new trend. Unfortunatly, things are very different for us here in Delhi. Sample this. Neighbour to me " Aap Kerala se hain ? Toh aap toh Kannada jante he honge ?" !!!

Mind Curry said...

well..i keep wondering if the whole idea of dividing india on the basis of two score plus languages was the best idea.. dunno yet..most of the times i feel it was not. but yes, at other times i think about the "unity in diversity" funda and feel so proud.

i am so inspired when i see unity among indians.

Di said...

i know!! i have people askin me words all the time... though my mal isnt excelelnt ,i manage to make do.. :)

silverine said...

Alexis: It is indeed a positive sign as till some time ago we were the butt of jokes and derision.

Alex: I feel proud too :) And it was common knowledge that I am Anjali :p

G: Superb rejoinder!!!

Pradeep: True, I heard that earlier mallus found it difficult to mix with others as they were confrontational, but the new gen seems to have learnt to adjust.

Madhusoodhanan: Thank you :))

Sebastian: Thank you and I don't forget people so easily, sweet cousin bros :)

nariyal chutney: I was actually referring to south Indians..I think the language is difficult to learn hence the interest to master it...I know a Sikh colleague who speaks excellent Malayalam.

synapse: viva la kerala indeed!! :)

Dhanush: It's heartening isn't it to see such interest! :)

Praveen: It happens to me all the time :)

mathew: After all those posts of mallus trying to speak Hindi, I think someone should write about Hindi people trying to speak south Indian languages :)

Jeseem: Not curious at all, see Di's comment :)

Pearl: I guess the North is yet to wake up to the South :p

Mind Curry:I am also a proud of all the Indian language, the different traditions and different cuisines and I pray that this preserves for centuries :)

Di: It's nice feeling isn't it?! :)

mathew said...

hey i think your vazhakulam story is a nice one to start with..

btw if calvin had a sister would her be called silverine!!!:-p

silverine said...

Mathew: You know you are the umpteenth person calling me Calvins sister :p I have too few anecdotes to make a post, lemme gather some more then perhaps I will write a post :)

?bLeAk?!! said...

well... even i have been teaching people malayalam...

my colleagues from orissa had come here thinking they would learn kannada, but instead found themselves surrounded by mallus and finally ended up learning and listening to more malayalam than kannada.. :D
and I never picked up a kannada word .. or even a oriya word :P

esvee said...

We have an Egyptian working in our office who can speak malayalam so well. he was working in Dubai before at Lulu centre......

flaashgordon said...

well there are recent incidents of malayalees excelling in different fields -apart from the known facts tht the current Chief justice, SEBI chairman are Keralites,there are ceos of some companies etc (ford india, titan, mtv just to name a few) who were mallus. Sreesanth in recent focus was a gap filled in a way(of a malayalee playing ckt for india and doing well) and there was the significant contribution in olympics for Indias medal tally. Also tourismwise there has been gr88 strides with some innovative mktg and increasin awareness of Gods own country. However i dont think there's really any particular interest in learning malayalam etc among non malayalees , simply coz there's really no benefit from it justifying such an effort. The only time someone tried to learn any malayalam from me ever was to woo a mallu girl ;-))Maharashtrians have learned Tulu, Gujjus learned Bengali and Mlaayalees have learned Assamese so on for the same reason. Well sorry for my counter-opinion ma'am, but the same could be the root of your theory :-))

silverine said...

bleak: Thats great!! But do learn Kannada, it's a really nice language! :)

esvee: People working with Malayalees seem to make a genuine effort to pick up the language :)

flaash: Guess you have written what you observed and I have what I have observed :)