Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Am A Malayalee

I’m a malayalee. Every drop of my blood is Malayalee. I’m proud of being one. I don’t feel happy as I am expected to feel when people look at me and tell me I don’t look like a malayalee (the permanent red bangle I wear, I guess, is the reason for this comment).

I’ve never been able to figure out what’s wrong with the way a malayalee looks? What is so undesirable about the ‘mallu look’?

I once quarreled with a very senior colleague, slated to be the next Principal. Though she hails from Kasargod, she couldn’t speak Malayalam.

“I take special care not to speak or learn to speak Malayalam. I’m afraid it’d affect the way I speak English.”. !!??!

I was shocked. I was not used to people making such downright rude and insensitive remarks. I felt insulted, being a malayalee and an English lecturer, with the onerous duty of teaching the angrezi language as though it was the most valued creation of God.

So I was shocked that such a senior person could make such a remark. It was so much in bad taste. Before I could recover from the shock, she went a step further.

“Molly, the minute you open your mouth, I know you are a malayalee”

Young and inexperienced that I was, I exploded. And chose to be insulting.

“Why”, I demanded gritting my teeth. “Do malayalees have a specific type of mouth odour”

“I meant your English. You talk just like a malayalee”.

Then I said something I should not have, considering her seniority and my juniority. I’d have behaved differently today, but those were the days when I was young and foolish enough to believe that I didn’t have to take any bullshit lying down. And so I said:

“The minute you open your mouth Mrs. G---, everybody’d know you come from the heart of rural Karnataka”.

The pin drop silence in the staff room told me I’d made a terrible mistake. The subsequent days in the college were very difficult. When I was hauled up, even the term insubordination was used!

But wait a minute, this post was not to be about that episode. Guess it is still rankling in my mind and so surfaced at the slightest provocation!

Like I said earlier, I have never felt apologetic about being a Malayalee. But, I must confess, I have been terribly embarrassed about the way some of my ‘country cousins” behave outside the state.

In a particular organization in a giant metro where I worked for sometime, there were a couple of malayalees who antagonized all the other employees. One was a very senior person. He was an arrogant Mr. Know-all who held the rest of his colleagues in supreme contempt. The other person was a junior who was being groomed by the senior malayalee to follow his footsteps. The younger person was born and brought up outside the enlightened state of Kerala, and so, one would expect him to be uncomfortable with the typical aggressive mode of a pure breed. But no. The senior, who took him under his wing, did such a thorough job of indoctrination that the apprentice quite out heroded Herod!

My very first encounter with the senior made me feel uncomfortable. I was having a cup of tea in the canteen when he drew up a chair, sat down at my table and introduced himself as my country cousin. In a matter of five minutes, his voice dropped into a conspiratorial tone with the observation, “You know, Molly, these people here are so superficial”. I was at a loss to understand what he meant, but before the conversation ended, I caught on to what he was trying to say, though not in so many words. Our colleagues were not hard core Marxists!

Much as I hate to make such a remark, the fact remains that Marx has made such deep inroads into the malayalee soul, resulting in a deflection our thinking from the mainstream. This deviation is manifest in an intolerance of a high degree, blatant arrogance in our language, body language and the very thought process, and the absence of social graces. On top of all that, it has made us so judgmental. And we believe we are the last word on every issue under the sun.

We also believe we are way above the rest of creation. The Malayalam language has a great number of words which refer to the neighbouring states and its people in a highly derogatory manner.

Coming back to the two malayalee colleagues, I got tense every time there was a general body meeting of the employees. The two of them would take turns jumping up like belligerent jack-in-the-box and flinging objectionable (sometimes even personal) remarks and observations. The Chairperson and the rest of the colleagues never ever reacted. Initially, that surprised me. But soon I was told that these guys would go berserk if someone disagreed with them. “Better to keep out of the way of rabid dogs”, my friend who had been a witness to earlier disasters, told me.

When built-in corrective measures so necessary for the quality upkeep of an organization were discussed, the senior and his chela were unstoppable. “These are targeted at the two of us”, once the chela, on his feet, shouted. Yes, these guys suffered from persecution mania too. Every suggestion for streamlining the organization was misconstrued as a personal attack on them.

Once, again in the canteen, as I was having a cup of tea, the senior malayalee pulled up a chair and greeted me with that smile reserved only for malayalees. With great geniality which came quite naturally when he spoke to me, he tried to pick up a conversation. Somehow, without me quite realizing it, the conversation lead to the Left.

To my horror, I heard myself saying, “The leftists are the most undemocratic creatures on earth”. To date, I don’t know why I made that emphatic observation, or from where I got the courage to say that.

Our man’s face transformed. The grin became a near snarl. He plunged into a angry harangue on how the world goes round because of the left, the world has not plunged onto headlong disaster ‘cos of the Marxists, all pro people reforms have come from the Marxists bla bla bla - - .

When he stopped to gulp down some air and the tea that was going cold, I cut in. Taking a long breath I spoke rapidly:
“Listen sir, I work in the state of Kerala which is swarming with these so called saviours of mankind. The student body is infested with them. My university has these people crawling all over. You find them in the syllabus committee, examination committees, administrative offices – you name it. And with my very unpleasant experiences of having to rub shoulders with them, I emphatically repeat: the leftists are the most undemocratic creatures on earth.”

Then I got up and fled.

I avoided him like plague for a few weeks. Then one day, I ran into him. To my utter surprise, he was so sweet and pleasant and genial.

After all, I am a mallu, I thought. Perhaps he sees in me the potential to be developed into a cantankerous anti- estab!

Tell me, dear visitor. Am I prejudiced? Or wholly wrong?

Am I in the grip of the bourgeoisie mindset?


  1. very interesting post...
    Am proud of my malayalee roots...but am not always proud of many traits which has given a bad name to malayalees outside..

    Malayalees are more like to flock together in a gathering and less likely to ease into a conversation with a non-malayalee…period.. There is a inherent sense of groupism amongst us…It has its positive implications too…Anywhere outside Kerala long before social networking sites came, its easy to find a malayalee who would invite you to their place and help you network with rest of the tribe…I have benefited a lot due to such people and have often been told by non-mallu friends of mine how envious they are about the networking malayalees manage outside…The drawback of this trend happens in a pan-Indian setting where there is a tendency for each malayalee to find the nearest possible mala-yalee!!

    Besides this sometimes the pride of being a malayalee transforms into arrogance about being a mala-yalee and absolute disrespect for others…Though I don’t know many such folks…you could often see this trait in public forums like Orkut where the superiority complex gets the better of such folks…This trait is not just limited to malayalees…Just listen how when kannadigas get together talk about Tamils and vice-versa…Even the so called educated, broad-minded folks do it…sadly!!

    And I am not a fan of NRK’s either who downright abuse all malayalees and are ashamed of their roots…There is a huge difference being critical of certain malayalees or malayalee traits and being absolutely offensive to an entire group of people…Its unfortunate sometimes to see many NRK’s in India who do that…Whereas I personally know many malayalee origin citizens abroad who are proud to sport their ethnic identity and love the language….That’s the beauty of it…People within the state trying to shed their roots or identity and those outside trying to go back to it….

  2. @Mathew - have you ever wondered why only NRK's are ashamed of their people from back home? It is because Keralites stick out like sore thumbs outside Kerala and have earned themselves a 'reputation' with their 'outstanding' behavior! There is no smoke without fire dude!

  3. @phoenix
    thats exactly what am trying to say...there are indeed rotten apples..I felt that when i was in Kerala...I felt that when i worked outside Kerala..and I felt that when I worked outside India as well..amongst the myriad categories of malayalees..

    the point is I am not ashamed of the entire malayalee diaspora coz of just ashamed of the few who stick out like sore thumbs! Does that warrant to absolutely shun your ethnic identity itself?

    means..i dont need to say.."I am actually a malayalee..but just keep it with yourself!!"

    I am probably more angry at the scum which brings disrepute to malayalees than you are...and my anger is directed only at them and not the entire people itself!!

  4. I spent 17 years of my life in Kerala and the rest of the miniscule years in various parts of India and now abroad. My first few years were utter torture coz I felt like a total misfit.I had a foreign sounding name with a non discriminatory face with a pronounced mallu accent yet decent English to get by. But everywhere I went, that label stuck for the first 2 years of my outside Kerala life and yes- the only comfort was the flocking of the same kind. I guess the groupism somehow arises from the insecurity of the newbie Mallus in a foreign land totally alien to them. Once they gain the confidence to break those barriers, they evolve into a different being. I have been there, done that.
    And now I can safely say, I love the Mallu land, but dont really fancy some of its people!!

    And now when people cant quite place where I am from, I silently stifle a smirk..But then, you can never betray the blood running in ur veins..:)

  5. I emphatically repeat: the leftists are the most undemocratic creatures on earth.”

    3 cheers to you ma'm!
    HOw well said!!

  6. Ma'am
    A very interesting point. I am not at all ashamed of my Malayalee roots. Despite being in the gulf, my parents made sure that I knew how to read and write Malayalam unlike the typical 'Gelf-oil Babies'
    In college, despite being an NRI I escaped Malayalam empositions(part of Ragging) as most guys who studied in Kerala itself didn't know how to read and write but I could.

    I have no apparent Mother-tongue Influence in my English.So no jibes regarding my accent so far.
    I make no attempt to conceal my Mallu roots.
    NRI Mallus are the butt of many stereotypes. Thankfully my nuclear family hasn't fallen prey to any of it.
    Honestly speaking, now that I'm in Sydney, I wouldn't want to be associated with other Mallus. The jingoistic groupism they so fervently purport is sickening.
    The infamous Mallu narrow- mindedness and jealosy is still prevalent, ripping apart families.

    Bigotry is more internal than external in our case.

    I'm proud to be a Mallu.Period. But I shall never endorse any pathetic attempts to project Mallu pride.
    I'm way too ahead for that despite my young years.

    My personal and honest opinion forged from experience both abroad and within Kerala.
    No offence intended.

  7. I am a Malayali too who was often mocked for accented Malayalam. When in Kerala, people told me that my Malayalam had English accent and usual mockery. Never bothered and I continue to speak in Malayalam.

    To an extend I agree with 1st commenter Mathew. When in Wisconsin, once I was talking to another Malayali, I mentioned about a dinner I went to previous night. Those people were from Indore. This Malayali immediately told me that oh! how she doesn't mingle with Hindi speakers because they don't have class. Yes! that's the exact word she used. I have seen many Malayalis ignoring other Indians in a group too.

    Well! I guess bad apples are everywhere. But because of them stereotypes are formed and then we are judged the same way.

  8. SILVERINE has left a comment on your post "I Am A Malayalee":

    Let me present to you another angle to this story. I have grown up being told that "you are so unlike a malayalee". As a marunaadan malayalee I understand the implication of that sentence. It is a big compliment and something that a malayalee from Kerala will never ever understand. It is a reaffirmation that I am normal like the rest of the Indians and that I do not 'behave' like a malayalee from Kerala. You may not understand the difference but there is a huge difference between a Malayalee from Kerala and the rest of Indians (which includes NRK's). If you go to a mall or street in Blr, you can spot the mallu from the others by their loud attention getting comments and behavior. Malayalees are obsessed with others. They need to show off in front of perfect strangers for no reason at all. And the comments by mallu guys are so lewd that it is unbelievable and the best part is they do not realize that it is not normal. Even a villager from Bihar has more dignity than a Malayalee and will behave himself in public. And what is more the pity is that Malayalees think this is normal. They do not realize how abnormal most of them are compared to the others. There are a few exception of course.

    This is also one of the reasons why most mallu kids born and bought up outside Kerala shun the language and any reference to their mallu roots. You cannot understand the shame they feel nor can I explain that unless you have experienced it. NRK kids can never be malayalees...ever, as they have grown up away from Kerala, and they take pains to expalin to people that they are different from mallus from Kerala because we have all grown up hearing comments about Malayalees and know what the general impression about Malayalees are. It mind sound pathetic but it is a very miserable existence when you are slotted with people with whom you share nothing but a language and an ancestral village!! Which is why now NRK's prefer to marry NRK's only. You will get some typical reactions to this comment, a known mallu trait to dismiss what they do not like to hear. But that will not erase the truth from my comment. Sorry if I have gone off topic and for the long rant but couldn't condense it.


  9. DPhatsez,

    You are not the only one. Most NRK and NRI do not mix with mallus because of our cosmopolitan upbringing. It is not due to snobbishness. But because you have nothing in common to talk with them. While these Mallus have grown up exclusively in Kerala in the company of only Malayalees. So they tend to flock together. Besides they have zero social etiquettes which makes them unwelcome in other groups .

  10. I just read your post again and lol I am way off topic. :)) To answer your question, no you are not in the grip of the bourgeoisie mindset. You have not fallen into the all too familiar trap of using politics or ideology to build groups at work. You were subconsciously avoiding ghettoization. Kudos!

  11. Why does the point of being ashamed of one's roots arise? I think its only us, Indians, who are shy of our mother tongue influence on our spoken English, I dont see a French or a German being shy of it ever.

  12. back up sujata 100% - we're indian so it's NORMAL to have an indian accent... mother tongue influences are impossible to avoid when u speak english. if u call up france or russia it would be normal (and understandable) to hear "i don't speak english" but you call up a fellow indian and the fact that he speaks hindi wouldn't be good enough - it would belittle him even. it's a sad world where we can't be proud of our own language.

  13. @ mathew
    thanks for the long response. yes, i think you think the same as i on the issue.
    guess the groupism of mallus abroad has its uses - u r honest enough to admit it and point it out.
    yes. it is the superioriy complex of the mallus that is unsahicable(forgive the manglish. - what the heck! i am a malayalee):-)

    @ phoenix
    think we shud look into why they stick out like sore thumb. gujus too do that in the USa. now what can we have in common with them. actually an interesting point for a socio study

    i think we have an answer to the clanishness of mallus here.the important thing it, w shud grow out of it once the same feather has served its purpose

    @ scorpiogenius
    :-) hope u r not where they can get their hands on you:-)

    @ dephatsez
    lucky you had the best of both the worlds!

    @ silverine
    thanks for the long post. you have very graphically exposed the embarassing mallu trait. heard lots of people complain about it.
    again, we need to look into what causes it? guess it is an extreme case of the frog in the well landing up in a bigger well - - -
    yes. ghettoisation is what the mallu shud wean himself of.

    @ sujatha
    the french and germans were never colonised.

    agree 100% with u.influence of mother tongue is inevitable. for practical purpose, we shud b understood by all speakers of english. that's the minimum requirement. once that is achieved, the language is ours. that's the price british has to pay for its imperial past:-). whrere is it written every non native speaker of english shud speak and write queens english?

    @ solilo
    had several occasions to mingle with the mallu crowd in the universtites of the US. there r 2 categories 1. the that flock togethter 2. the ones that avoid mallus like plague!

    @ anonymous
    'But because you have nothing in common to talk with them. While these Mallus have grown up exclusively in Kerala in the company of only Malayalees'
    a sad state of affairs - both for the naadan mallu and the NRI. does it mean the NRI is culturally uprooted just as the other is makeing that extra effort to prevent that? guess it's all an identity problem

  14. "the leftists are the most undemocratic creatures on earth"

    You meant the Leftists all over the World or the CPM/CPI leaders and cadres of Kerala?

  15. @ charakan
    guess i can talk with some authority abt indian(not just kerala) marxists - tho once i had an occasion to discuss labour issues with a german lady at a seminar - i found she beats our kerala commies hollow - gave me an inbeievablo tongue lashing for being a "management person"! dunno if that's the rule or exception - but made me think cpmmies are the same all over the world.

  16. Thank you for your clarification May I ask you for one more clarification What did you mean by 'Leftists'? It is a word with very broad meaning right? Did you really mean in that sense?

  17. @ charakan
    i only mean communists by the term. am not sure of the other meanings you have in mind.

  18. My idea was every one having political views on the left side of political spectrum are Leftists So for me all Leftists are not communists. Historically the leftists were instrumental in demise of monarchies and establishment of democracies in Europe I thought even now all over the World most Leftists do the same That was why I was surprised Hope you dont mind my comments

  19. @ charakan
    not at all - most welcome.

    i used it the way we normally do in the indian poitical context.

    after marx, all such left groups you mention subscribe to his ideology, with perhaps regional or theoretical differences, i think?

  20. I understood now You meant the Communist Parties . Yes they still claim they subscribe to the theory of dictatorship of the Proletariat Most of Leftists of the World belonging to Social Democratic Parties, Green Parties and Trade Unions do not subscribe to that view

  21. I have spent 22 years in Kerala, then later 4 years in various parts of India, and an year abroad.

    It had been my experience that mallu brotherhood was for the good of all. When I was bothered with issues like religion, regionalism etc., the mallus helped out. Also I did controversial acts of regionalism, favoring mallus and southies. One cannot betray one's blood and language, no matter what.

    It is my experience that the greatest liberal, or the richest and most bigoted dude, muslim, christian, or hindu, or extreme leftie, whoever, all unite under the mallu label, which is great. Of course the people who feel ashamed of malluness have to be left out; it is their choice. There is no point in trying to change them. However one would be polite to them; it is just the courtesy of blood, even if they detest their own blood.

    Spread your wings, explore the world; but do not forget your brethren.

  22. I have found it very easy to deal with people from remote villages in north India, or the most extreme Iyengar in Chennai, or a naxalite intellectual from Kolkata, or a Bengali from a top American university. All these people were my very close friends; I am not talking of mere acquaintance here. Also I have interacted well with Germans, Italians, Russians, Spaniards and Dutchmen. It was all cordial.

    However the mallu who was brought up outside Kerala always had a condescending attitude towards me the pure mallu. Whatever the defect of a pure mallu, the consequent suffering for the same was from the fraud mallus; it was far easier to get along with the rest of the world. This is the truth.

  23. Also I was repeatedly told many times that "you mallus are cool people", by Bengalis, Kannadigas etc.. I guess, the difference between pure mallus and expatriate mallus is the difference between country culture and the "cosmopolitan" culture. That is why we pure mallus are able to get along superbly with similar folks from the rest of India.

    The mallus who went "cosmopolitan" after so much sweat and effort about breaking the ties to their roots, are so reluctant to give up what they have got. That is why they make vitriolic comments about Kerala. This is understandable; but I will keep a distance from them in return for their unwarranted hate and contempt. It is seen that such "cosmopolitan" mallus mix well with other "cosmopolitan" people.

    Tell me, honestly: Who do you like better, the frank, crude and sincere country farmer, or the stiff, affected and sophisticated cityman? I would anyday go for the former. I would stick with the pure mallu, the son of the soil. Not with Silverine. She is funny, talented, all that. But there is no need to suffer her denigration towards the homeland. There is a difference between the condescending external person and the ardent one from the interior, striving to make progress.

    I get carried away. .. I suppose this is a touchy topic for me.

  24. It was nice reading your post.

    I am not the person to comment on this but being a malayalee loving malayalam and kerala I would say... Love yourself and your culture...

  25. @gs
    thanks for visiting my site.
    agree with u. the pardesi mallus look down their noses on the pure breed.i remember a high profile tv anchor, when asked about her mallu background, reacted sharple to say that tho a mallu she was born and brought up in delhi and so share none of the mallu characteristics.
    @ abhilash pillai
    yes. good advice. love yourself and your culture-but i'd add - dont get clannish and develepo superiority complex
    thanks for visiting my blog. do come more often

  26. Kerala is among the worst societies in India, live there for a year, and understand what the people say, then you will come to realize it. Anyone who disagrees in their society is branded as mentally ill, threatened, abused, and stigmatized, leading to a high suicide rate. Cunning mindset, control, manipulation, threats are a way of life there. Women are treated like second class, alcoholism is rampant, depression and other mental illness is all pervasive.

    Don't let the outer appearances of "literacy", women's education etc fool you, once you spend some time in depth with the society you will understand the way they look at themselves and at outsiders.

    North Indians and other ethnic groups are often belittled in kerala, abused behind their backs, constant insulting and bullying attitude is prevalent.

    This is a disgusting garbage of a state, unfit and unworthy to be part of India. Their suicide rate is the highest in Asia, speaks for itself.

    If you don't "conform" to the malayalee society, you will be stigmatized, belittled, and shunned

    An unforgiving, un-civilized, abusive , disrespectful society.

    The number of children raped there is among the highest in India, child sexual molestation is rampant, children are forced to accept this in silence, and in that kind of society such things can brng tremendous shame and stigma, most just bear it and in the end commit suicide.

    The blood of several malayalees cries out from its soil. Dirty place.

    Any foreigner, or outsider who chooses to intermarry or settle there, will have severe problems, let them be fore-warned.

    Malayalees may smile in the front, once your back is turned, they plot against you and plot to stab you from behind, belittle you and bring you down.

    I have lived among other ethnic groups and I can tell you, this is the worst society in India. Thats my honest take on this.

    Don't tell me all "places" got it", well all places may have "some" of this , that is human , but not at the INTENSITY at which kerala has.

    in all the gulf nations, keralites are disliked by other ethnic groups, they are allowed to come in just for the sake of the menial work they do there. They smile and may be polite to other ethnic groups, but they treat their own people like trash.

    kerala women are among the most abused, emotional and physical and sexually abused women in India.

  27. hi
    I recently heard that Malayalee accent is because of the British who were in Kerala were Scots as opposed to UK in TN etc.. This is why the pronounciation of 'O' etc. Is this true? thanks

  28. @ anonymous
    i too have heard and read about it - yes. about the O problem. I dont know if the theory is right. From what i see, the O problem in Mallu english is on account of the absence of the sound O (as in hot, cot, ) in malayalam. also the way we pronounce the O in 'bold'is different from the Std Br english where it is a diphthong ou. bold is prononced as bould in british english . but there is supposed to be a scottish variety which is similar to the mallu's O (as in bold). whether it is scottish influence or the native language(malayalam) influence on mallu english is the question. I'm inclined to believe it is the malayalam influence.
    we have similar problem with the 'er' sound in earth, birth. this also is because we dont have that vowel in malayalam. now scottish english also has a variety of this sound different from the Std Br english. these factors could be the basis for this scottish english influence theory. we hav problem with the 'a' as in cat, map etc. the reason is the same-that sound does not exist in malayalam.

  29. I totally agree...mallus are decent when you talk to them alone. But once they form a group..even 1/2 is begin to hate them from te bottom of your heart coz of their behaviour. I have never seen anyone as insensitive as mallus. Their groupism makes want to puke. But I wanna apologise to the very few mallus who also hate this groupism. But the average mallu.. no.. the majority of mallus suck..and we have to live with it.

  30. Being born and raised in America..I have some positive and negative views on mallus. First of all, mallus shouldn't "suck" due to their ethnicity. Wrong to say because not every mallu is like that. I have met many mallus who are just the most sweetest most nicest people you can ever meet, and I also have met many who needs a huge blow in their face because they are just ridiculous and very ignorant. However I do agree w/ some of the facts that people pointed out. According to what I seen, when a woman marries a man from Kerala, hell breaks out and the marriage breaks. Reason: The men act like they can walk on top of their wives and can be superior, causing misery for the women. The men have never been outside Kerala, and therefore are not independent and depend on other people to do things for them. They dont' know the reality of life as they are brought to believe that they can act like kings. This is the reason why many mallus abroad refuse to marry straight from Kerala. Some Mallus also talk nonsense and spread ridiculous gossip on others, and I have met a couple who are completely racist..which is bad. Some act like if you don't know one thing, like malayalam, you bring shame. Like really, get real! Many NRI I know don't speak malayalam, I don't either unless talking to my grandparents or those who don't know English, but we tend to be better behaved than some from Kerala! There are many others too, but I understand the reason why those who were born and brought up in Kerala and those brought up abroad don't relate to each other and have nothing in's because our views on life are very different. You can't expect every mallu to match the typical mallu stereotype..and funny that if you don't match everything that describes a mallu, they trash talk you. I'm not kidding. Thing is I think some mallus are too self abosorbed and proud of themselves that they love to put down others...and I hate that. Everyone has their own identitity..what matters, regardless of who you are or where you are from, is that you are a good human being..period. You don't have to be the most perfect person in the world to be good, infact those who don't have many things tend to be the good people, and those who live life exactly they wanted are the downright bastards of society. Yet I find many mallus who are not like that and chilled back and very good people, and those are the ones usually who lived abroad know the reality of life and learned not to judge others. Just my two cents.

  31. Dear all,

    I am a Tamilian and I know Malayalam as well. I worked in kerala for sometime. There is a common opinion in Tamil Nadu that Malayalese are selfish, cunning and arrogant. But when I was in Kerala I have met both good and bad people. Some are very nice and very helpful too while some are arrogant and cunning. I found that acceptance of outsiders in Kerala is poor. Ironically Keralites were speaking Tamil before 600 years but they never like to remember this because they think that Tamilians are mean fellows. I used to ask myself: even if someone does not like his mother, can he refuse her?

    The reason why Malayalese ridicule Tamilians is that there are many Tamilians working in Kerala as labourers as the wage is somewhat higher. Looking at these people many think that all the Tamilians are less educated. I have really pained when people throw a sarcastic smile on me. I am happy to read the comments here as most of them are introspective.

    English pronunciation in kerala is really pathetic as you guys pronounce words like office as o-fis and college as Ko-Lej. I think it is better for you to change this style. Sadly many strongly believe that their pronunciation is correct.

    Finally, I would like to request Malayalese not to think that you are superior and others are inferior, try to mingle with other people as we are also humans with two eyes, one nose, two legs and blood in red color :)

    Please do not mistake me and take in right spirit.


  32. Ola!

    As far as the Marxist bit in the article goes...
    I agree that they have done a lot of harm to the state on a lot of fronts. But when you compare Kerala to the rest of India, the difference is there for all to see. For all the crap that they may have done, Kerala has benefited with a higher common minimum wage. You can see daily wage labourers driving bikes, having houses, 22-24 hours of power, clean water, TOILETS!!, phones and even computers for their kids. I feel that Marxism (or communism or whatever) has improved that common minimum and the proof is for all to see if you go to a "village" in Kerala and compare it to villages in UP or Bihar. My feeling of Superiority is along those lines and I feel completely justified. Its the common minimum that I look at - not the rich and famous :P

    As far as the accent goes, I believe that whenever you speak a language you should try to speak like the native speakers of the language. When in Rome speak like the Romans do! Everyone should strive to speak like the British do when they're in the UK, speaking English. If you aren't doing that I consider it as disrespect to them. I don't mean that you should forget about your own culture, but that you should have the capability to add the other culture/language to your repertoire as well!

    I'm not sure which part of the state you worked in, but I've noticed that sociability and general "nice"-ness increases as you go more north in the state. Kozhikode, Kannur etc have very nice people :) (I'm a Kochi boy btw)

  33. @neel
    agree that Kerala Marxists have a lot to do with the minimum wage and the revolutionary land reforms. yes, this did elevaate the condition of the lower class. But i would hsitiate to allow the marxists to walk away with all the credit. the difeerence in the social scene in kereal has both geographical and historical reasons.
    kerala is a tiny little state without the huge exanse of the bimaru states with its remote regions with unfriendly geographical conditions, and remoteness that makes it difficult fr the hands of law and the eyes of the media to access.this provides the ideal soil for the zamindari's unjust and brutal rule and money lenders' exploitation.
    we have to thank our rajas of the 19th and late 18th centuries who saw that there was a pallikudom in every cornere of the state. it's this education that has opened up the minds of the malayalee of all classes to opportunities. sense of rights and, ironically enought, created the right climate for the entry of marxism.

  34. The jingoistic groupism they so fervently purport is sickening.
    The infamous Mallu narrow- mindedness and jealosy is still prevalent, ripping apart families"

    "Malayalees are more like to flock together in a gathering and less likely to ease into a conversation with a non-malayalee…period.."

    I agree with these two..and this is the reason why ppl are calling malayalees "racist". Several of them don't like talking with non-mallus and won't accept or associate with other people, even from other parts of India. My cousin is married to an American boy. He is one of the most wonderful people you can ever meet, very intelligent smart, outgoing, full of life! All my cousins and the youngsters LOVE HIM, but my aunties and uncles HATE him because he's white! They nearly shunned my cousin from the family b/c she refused to marry in Kerala..and good thing she didn't! The husband tries to be friendly with my aunties and uncles, but all they do is ignore him and give him disgusted looks, and when he's not there, they spread unnecessary gossip :( I have several malayalee friends, but I have waay more friends of other natiionalities. My best friend is Filipino. I love mingling and bonding with people who are not from India, rather than just talking with the "mallu group". Heck many us don't want to associate with mallus because of the stupidity and drama they start. Another common thing I hear and appears to be true is that Malaylees tend to gossip and spread shit about other people..and sometimes turn their back on you. I don't blame malayalees born and brought up outside Kerala not wanting to marry in Kerala, or want to make themselves a true "Keralite"..they don't want to be part of this drama and crap. I'm proud to be a malayalee, born and raised there until 18 before coming to US, but I hate some of the things they do. I myself have been used and cheated on and hounded to be the "perfect" mallu, and it bruised relationships with many. I can't even enjoy what I want to enjoy because it doesn't meet the "mallu expectation", and I was forced to go into nursing when I wanted to and had the opportunity to become a doctor as the mallu community I was part of in India, the women all went to nursing, so I had to be like them! My dream was crushed and I'm still depressed over it. And the amount of expectations they have, especially for NRI's brought up aboard..ridiculous! No wonder why many Native Keralaite-non native keralite marriages clash..because of the mentality difference, and the fact that some Keralite men are soo controlling and stomping their wives, is that what you a call a marriage? Being a slave for your husband?. Now I'm not saying all of them are like that, of course there are very nice and intelligent malayalees, who are laid back and love you regardless of who you are. Those ppl I love and will always make friends with..but those who act superior, thrash on other ppl, judge and gossip..."kaala nalate potikum". Serisouly they need to whipped! Heaven's sake some even look down on you for even having a pet dog! How arrogant and dumb! I love malayalee culture because I was born into it and was raised in Kerala for the 1st 18 years of my life, but I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes I wish I was a Tamilian or a North Indian, because of how many mallus are (again..not all!) least these Indians are open and accepting of other people besides their own group, where as Mallus only care for themselves and don't give shit about others.

  35. @elin
    strong and passionate, but honest.

    'and I was forced to go into nursing when I wanted to and had the opportunity to become a doctor as the mallu community I was part of in India, the women all went to nursing, so I had to be like them! My dream was crushed and I'm still depressed over it.'
    find it difficult to believe this. it is first doctor or engineer, and then only nurse.

    incidentally, a category of people for whom i have the greatest respect is the mallu nurse. they changed the economy of the state. and they are appreciated wherever they go. while in mumbaii had the occasion to be bystander in 2 hospitals. one is panday's heart hospital in bandra.the best nurses and those i responsible positions were malayalees. on both occasions, i felt proud of being a malayalee.

  36. @Kochuthresiamma

    Don't get me wrong. Nursing is a very good profession to go into. And yes they deserve a lot of respect. Except I always dreamed to be a doctor since I was 10 years old. I was visiting a cousin in Allepy. Cousin was injured in a accident, so was sent to the hospital. I was there, and I was watching how the doctors were treating him. At the same time, one of the doctors was explaining to me on what you do as a doctor. All the different kind of medications, was soooo interesting. I just was interested and wanted to be one then. I then worked hard to get that goal, got high marks..etc. But my parents said no, I have to be a nurse and was forced into it. And am a nurse still. I am working in the US, and I like it being a nurse here..don't know in India though. But I still wish I was a doctor. Whenever I talk to a doctor at the hospital, I was always think how lucky they are that they get to have the career they dreamed.

  37. I am from Germany and had settled in Kerala for a year due for doing a humanities project I was doing for my job. I was very much excited to go there first because I got to explore a new culture and country, but now I must say I will never step foot in Kerala ever again. Yes, it's a beautiful place, very beautiful, but as someone said before...they don't like anyone who is not of their kind. I was brashed and harassed because I am a white person and not a malayalee..only a very few people I met were nice, but these people either were shunned out from their community as they didn't follow the expectations as they had visioned life different from the "malayalee" life, or they have been abroad elsewhere,know better how to treat people and are also disgusted by their own people. When I tried to speak in malayalam, I was made fun of and people were pointing fingers and laughing..they also act they are better than me and have stabbed me in the back before. They also love to make snobby comments in front of me because they know I don't understand malayalam. Selfish, arrogant, and very disrespectful. It's funny because when I went to Tamil Nadu and Northern India, they were very accepting and friendly..I made a lot of friends from there. I don't know what makes malayalees think they are better...but I heard from a malayalee friend, who feels the same way and is living in the US that they think they are superior than other people..this why many many malayalees born and raised abroad shun their heritage out, marry outside of Kerala and basically want nothing to do with it.and it should be understood because of the way malayalees behave. I have seen this among malayalees in northern India too..just like the US and abroad, they feel the same. Of course not all of them are like that, but a good majority of them are horrible..sorry, but until they get rid of their racist views and their backstabbing behaviors, I don't think anyone, unless you are a native of Kerala and believe in the same thinking, will ever say "I am proud to be a malayalee".

  38. @Elin, mallus shun outsiders because from experience they have learned that non malaylaees do not like their habit of getting too personal and familiar with them. The mallu has no sense of personal space and get too familiar with people and before long they are commenting on you, your food, culture in a condescending way. Guy start making sexist comments with girls not knowing that outside Kerala, you cannot get away with such attitudes. So they prefer to stick together as they do not want to change.

    @ Silverine: Totally agree with you.

  39. Ok I have read all the comments and the blog. I can feel that is polarised into two groups "Naadan mallus" and "Maru nadan mallus" and a bunch of Trans-mallus trying to figure where they fit in :). Seen from various perspectives most of the statements have validity sometime or the other.

    My two cents:

    1. Replace Mallu with Tamil or Kannadiga or Punjabi or Gujarathi, or Bengali etc along with appropriate context and pass it on, people will accept it. In fact Bengalis fit strongly into the grouping together category as equally as Mallus.

    2. But the difference is, Mallus introspect and make fun of themselves which others rarely do, atleast not Tamils or Kannadigas.

  40. @ ramanan
    ' Mallus introspect and make fun of themselves ' - a very true observation which no one else has mentioned. agree fully with you.guess that's really a redeeming quality.
    we mallus are really a bundle of contradictions, eh? :-)

  41. Wow! so much about a Malayali!

    One has to thank your blog for bringing out such emotional outbursts from malayalis and non malayalis..
    nd all for the Malayali / Mallu / pure blood / NRI / NRK etc etc.. it proves that the mallu DNA just cannot be ignored!

    Proud to be a Malayali.. with all their quirks ..

  42. molly u may be right

  43. molly is great

  44. @ anon
    y remain anonymous when you post such lovely comments?:-)


  46. I spent the last ½ hour reading the blog and the comments. I got to say that the blog is very well written and equally well received. I am a NRI / NRK who had no connections with Kerala except for my parents and some Malayalam movies they watch {I am not kidding- I learnt more Malayalam from the movies than from actual mallus or my parents}. Then along came my wife who although being NRK was deeply into the mallu way of living and culture. Infact at the beginning of the marriage I was openly ridiculed and snubbed by my in laws for speaking Malayalam with an English accent. I assumed it is just a matter of time before they would accept me as one of their kind.
    Last Vishu {our first after marriage}, we were invited to join our inlaws in Kerala at their traditional Tharavaadu. There were many people visting them and they were all kinda amused to see me in my traditional mundu + Jubba (or Kurta?? Whatever). But soon when the folks started to settle down in a big group, there were a lot of topics covered, ideas ridiculed / gossips unfolded and at one point the topic went to the NRI. One of them went to the extreme and said that mallus born and bought up abroad are spoilt, spoon-fed, lazy and think that they are superior to the naadan mallus. But the actual truth is they are nowhere near a real naadan mallu in values and principle. The person who made this comment was a very distant relative and didn’t know that I was the perfect example of the ‘type’ he was referring to. When the others realized that I was also sitting in that group listening, there was an awkward silence and I was cursing myself for not being a turtle to cave my head into my shell. Throughout the day I witnessed men treating their wives as absolute trash and others openly acknowledging it as if that was the norm. The wives quietly resigned back to the kitchen helplessly. After half an hour my wife who was always very simple, appeared from one of the rooms like a jewellery ad model– courtesy some senior women folk who justified that a ‘mallu’ woman should wear the maximum gold she possibly can. When I quietly enquired about this, she said that her aunts insisted that it is normal to show off wealth in front of people, more importantly our own relatives & cousins. Hence her mom had made her wear both her jewels and her mother’s. At that point I lost hope I would ever be able to flock like a naadan mallu. Not that I am complaining about that. I would rather remain an ignorant NKI/NRK than an arrogant Naadan Mallu.  My two cents {rather my twenty cents – judging from the length of this comment}
    @Kochuthresiamma :Thank you for bringing up this vent. Helped me exhaust my fumes!!
    To my wife if you are reading this comment – you are the sweetest mallu I had ever seen { that would be my insurance cover}

  47. I was proud of the malayali trait once upon a time
    three decades back or more when their education was valued but later on they became associated with blue films,loud mouthed behavoiur,terrorism,
    opportunism and parasiting on other peoples job as

  48. Dear All,

    Let's take a look at the incident presented in the beginning.

    The expectation that someone from the border region should also learn and speak malayalam is perhaps the seed of the confrontation the writer had with her senior.

    As far the senior's comment that she takes care not to learn malayalam so that her accent does not carry any malayalam trace, it is a valid comment. (though it applies to other languages too-hindi speakers speak english a certain way, bengali speakers speak english a certain way and so on...) The senior's second comment "When you open your mouth I know you are from Kerala" is also valid as there is a distinct malayalam accent ('O' 'er' ) etc.,

    The writer herself presents two more instances of her encounters with other malayalees. Apparently she is not that happy.

    Now the question: Does one draw one's identity from just a language, a certain culture one is born into or does one need to draw one's identity from the way one reflects, behaves and leads one's life?

    Would you ever a find another website where an individual of tamil, telugu, kannada or other origin discussing something like this, wasting time in the name of 'pride' and 'roots'?

    The writer needs to reflect why generally malayalees and perhaps bengalees are looked down upon by other indians? why is that they have to flock together, speaking their own language even when people speaking other languages are with them?
    Why is the malayalee considered cunning, back-stabbing, culture-less and crude?
    Even in small countries like Bhutan Malayalees are not respected; they command less respect compared to tamils and north indians.

    vivekanada right remarked : Keralam oru brandhalayam (kerala is a loonybin)

    It is better to keep a distance with Malayalees.
    At best they can be acquaintances, never friends and certainly not relatives by marriage.

  49. Why should you have this title "I am a Malayali?"

    Sankara, the great philosopher from your land established 'Advaita' and clearly said that forms and names are only apparent. Nothing is real save and except the Ultimate Reality.

    Please grow up, dont ever get trapped by saying I am this, I am that...

    I am reminded of a witty quote about kerala;
    It is God's own country housing Devil's own people!


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