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"