Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fraud kundry mallu!

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.


Anonymous said...

Very true sadly!

I am a Fraud Kuntry Mallu too!! Nice term Silverine :-)

Anonymous said...

tch tch tch.. truth is bitter eh?? :P

Zennmaster said...

how can you not make fun of the mallu accent... I mean sure there are other ways of making one feel comfortable...and not making fun of their accent is not one of them...I love the accent...makes everything sound funny and difficult to understand...

Trust me on that, been living with 4 mallu's for the past year...and I crack everyday when they say I gotta go to "auffice in otto"...Love them...

Karthik said...

Dont the bangalore malluge's form groups or have no tension between them? (Question not applicable to Silverine) :-) :-)

Deepti said...

I am a fraud Kundry mallu too!!!
nice post :)

Philip said...

I've got a LOT of points on this (I'm obsessed with making lists :))

1. 'Keeping up with the Johnykuttys' is a Mallu obsession, whether they are in California or Thodupuzha. It's not limited to city life in Kerala.

2. You put two girls in a room and you already have two groups. And when there are 2 groups of girls, there is much bitching and tension.

3. Having spent many a years in mallu kundryside and many more years in mallu city-towns, I know for a fact that disputes and tensions between / inside families is a way of life in Kerala. Every family is involved in some property dispute and every family keeps track of the number of rubber trees (and their stage of maturity) the neighbouring family has.

4. The tone in your post is extremely condescending :(. It takes good old Ms. Silverine from Bangalore to put the other group at ease by deigning to not "judge them by their English or clothes" or by trying to "break down the walls" between families. Did somebody say white man's oops..big-city-girl's burden?

5. Not everybody who is disagreeing with you is 'pretending not to understand' or 'calling you bitchy'. Some people disagree because hmm.., they don't agree.

silverine said...

Eenasu: Thanks!!

J: Yeah :p

Zenmaster: I luvvvv the mallu agzent and dread the day it will disappear. I think it is a delight to hear!!! In fact I like the punju and bong accents too.

Karthik: Absolutely not!!

Deepti: Thanks! It takes one to understand another :)


1. I disagree. Thodupuzha is still small town and apart from usual petty jealousies I don't see any class distinction. People still drop into each others homes.

2. Absolutely disagree on this from personal exp.

3.hmm this is not about families, but neighbors in an uptown colony!

4. Such posts are always misconstrued as condescending and I am not going to defend it as you have to be in my unique position to understand. :)

5. Lets agree to disagree here :p


mathew said...

ohh..daandeei oru parushkaari.. ;-P

thats what we guys used to say in college..esp for the gelf guys..i think it is more of jealousy than hatred which causes that..but once a person comes out of this mental block then things are easy.

City folks having grugde over each other's all universal..maybe it is just all the more obvious here..

but now who cares..i think people judge too much these days..terms like being modern..or having refined tastes are all temporary isnt..means like you drink chivas regal or kallu..both get drunk in the end isnt?;-P

silverine said...

Mathew: Here in Blr,no one is bothered if you or your neighbor has a Merc.In fact they might come over to admire, because the owner himself is not bothered enough to show off :) Even refined tastes etc is a word we read in books. The bulk of the common people are least bothered at least here in the southern Metros of Blr, Chennai and Hyd. :)

jj said...

The invisble walls will fall someday!! ( I hope so)
I face an identity crisis here, as in which category I belong to...Anyways I'm a mallu and I'm proud of that...
I've had hands on experience
with all types of mallus you mentioned.
City life in Kerala, is a mixture of both, the kundry mallus and city mallus.
And I've lost count of the types of groups I've come across.
The so-called 'Yo' girls ( smart ones) and I dunno what they call the Behanji types, the buji gang, the bitchy gang...
"Love thy neighbour", this commandment has disappeared from the lives of people. They love to hate and criticize their neighbour.
All this arises due to the mallu attitude to compare anything and everything, be it the price of your new saree, to the marks your children score, to the latest plasma TV you own, to the pay-packets of your children.

I felt very sad when I saw that, small kids who knew nothing about this and formed playgroups, were literally warned by their parents 'not-to-talk' to those people.

silverine said...

JJ: Spot on!!! You have described it better then me :) I was disappointed to see the new generation doing this. Hope things change.

Anonymous said...

am frnd of abhi and lot others :)

seeing this post, remembering the end of film "Enemy at the Gates".
Watched this grt movie with abhilash.recently watched again with wife.

Where Danilov speaks to Vassil
(cut and paste below)

I've been such a fool,
Man will always be man.
There is no new man.
We tried so hard to create
a society that was equal,
where there'd be nothing
to envy your neighbor.

But there's always
something to envy.

A smile...

a friendship.

Something you don't have
and want to appropriate.

In this world-
even a Soviet one-

there will always
be rich and poor.
Rich in gifts...
poor in gifts.
Rich in love...
poor in love.

silverine said...

Santhosh: Welcome to my blog and thanks for dropping in :) That observation was very apt!

Jina said... catchin up with ur posts..:)so reading it all at one go..
mm..i guess this cultural identity crisis happens for going in and going out...
i clearly remember how i was mocked for my mallu accent in blore grad days..and how i desperately tried to fit in..later realizin the best way to fit in just being myself..

skar said...

Isn't finding divisive factors where there are none and petty excuses to quarrel just human nature? :) The mind needs to be occupied, and if it fails to find healthy ways, it occupies itself in this manner I would think. There's a story by I think Chekhov, which narrates beautifully this kind of a constant quarrel between two terminally ill people occupying two hospital beds. They were each other's worst enemies, and let all hell break lose in the hospital each day, but when one died, the other went into a depression, worsened in condition and died :)