I was reading this nice post by Jina and something struck me. I am a fraud mallu as they come. But there is a difference between me and other expat mallus. I am a fraud kundry mallu!!! What I mean is that, all that I have experienced of Kerala, is village and small town life. Put me in Kochi or Trivandrum and I will be totally lost.
To me Kerala is the land of my ancestors and rolling rubber estates, gentle paced village life, ordinary country folks, a life revolving around the Parish and sowing and reaping and rubber paal collection seasons.
I know nothing of Kerala city culture, or the colony culture. It is alien to me. Last time I was in Kochi was about six months back for the wedding anniversary of my aunt and uncle in an old colony in Kochi or Ernakulam, I am not sure. They had settled in Kochi after selling their land in Moovattupuzha as both their daughters now studied in a city women’s college. I stayed at their brand new house for the weekend and my cousin sisters took me visiting to their friend’s houses in the colony. I was greeted with great friendliness by the other girls, a little younger to me.
They were more modern than the girls I am used to seeing in my village. They were nothing like the Bangalore mallu NRK girls. But they were nothing like the little Kerala town girls too.
There was clearly as lot of tensions between the groups of girls in the colony. My cousin sisters took me around the place and to the ice cream joint in the colony. Other groups at the place eyed us warily. There was a clear distance between the groups of girls. I walked over to one of the groups, much to the dismay of "my" group and exchanged pleasantries with a girl who had particularly nice bike. I took the bike as an excuse to start a conversation.
Most of them were on the defensive. When they saw that I was merely being friendly they sort of relaxed. I have seen this from city girls coming from Kerala to Bangalore. The moment they realize here in Bangalore no one is going to judge them by their hep or or cool factor, they relax and become friendly. It is a sort of defensive action that most people here will understand, some will pretend not to understand and some will leave comments calling me bitchy like after this post :p
I walked back to "my" group and they seemed surprised that my head was intact. Perhaps they expected it to be chewed off. I asked my cousin sister why there was so much tensions between groups and my cousin said that these girls and them were not on the same wave length. I am sure the other girls felt the same way :)
There was an expat Gulf group in the colony and a business class group too. A lot of competition existed between houses too and my aunts immediate neighbor was not talking to her neighbor since they bought a more expensive car!!
Maybe this was a small group of people and not representative of the bulk of Kerala city folks...but I found the whole thing damn funny!
I was the common denominator between some of these group during my stay here as I have other family friends too in this colony. I was greeted with great joy at every home, but my tiny efforts to tear down the invisible boundaries came to naught. People saw me off at the gate with great affection but were reluctant to walk with me to the next house. Damn sad.
The mentality was so bewildering! Non mallus on the other hand were welcome in every mallu home, but amidst themselves, these mallu city folk had a clear invisible line. It was a colony of strangers...of islands, yet most of them spoke the same language, ate the same kind of food, went to the same church, temple etc etc.
Totally bewildering situation and set up!!
Thank god I am a fraud kuntry mallu!
p.s I am reiterating that this just a one off experience. But then this was my only Kerala city experience too.