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Citizens of Malludom!

Citizens of Malludom!

August 28, 2012

There are no visas to Gods own Country.

Onam is just around the corner.

I like Onam.

For the uninitiated, it is the Keralan harvest festival. Which we supposedly indulge in when we find the time away from our hartals and strikes. The remaining farmers who have not yet committed suicide to escape the whirlpool of debts, ensure we have some sort of a harvest from fields that have not yet been sold to raise wedding halls or movie theaters.

We do like our movies, don't we?

For a hard core mallu, our love for movies comes very close to how we feel about our sadyas.

Oh, you have no idea what a sadya is? Never mind, let me confuse you further.

It is where we serve a 9 course meal incorporating around 64 different mandatory vegetarian curries served in a specific predetermined order on a banana leaf, that is positioned in a predetermined way. To make things worse, it has to be eaten in a particular way. Each curry has an order in which it has to eaten with which course.

And you think the cutlery in a formal dinner is confusing. Europeans have nothing on a mallu's ability to make a simple thing like eating, into a mind boggling experience.

You need to do a sadya at least once in your life.

It makes you appreciate the simple things in life. I once told a friend of mine, that as a mallu, we are like potatoes. Everything of value is buried underground. Heritage, Culture, Caste...

I have never seen a race that use this word as often as any other bunch in India.

Ormayundo?

Translated, that says : Remember?

Its like everything in the present has to have a reference in the past for us to appreciate the future a little lesser.

Nothing is good enough.

As you can see I am doing the same here. Just goes to show I am a true blue mallu. There is absolutely no cure.

The same friend pointed out that my written work, dripping with subtle sarcasm, are my attempts to put a righteous distance between what I am and what I think I am.

Did I tell you I got very brilliant, insightful friends? I do. That's why I don't like them.

She is right of course.

But I am a mallu. Which means I can only show you the way but will never get off my coconut arse to lead you there. For that we will wait for one of our gods to come down in his next schizophrenia induced disguise.

Then somewhere in India, we will have another festival and another feast.

I think it was George Bush, at his diplomatic best, who claimed that the increase in global food prices is due to Indians overeating.

I believe, my friends, the ex president had experienced a sadya at Gopalettan's Tharavad in Changanassery when Omanachettathi, made her special Adda Pradamum, which the President of the U S of A supposedly asked her to pack for Laura.

I like being a mallu. It is so complicated to an outsider. Its like belonging to some secret organization - like the Illuminati or something.

For one thing, we speak in code. We do. Your rudimentary understanding of malayalam will fall on its face when faced with our Thiruvananthapuram bhasha (thats mallu for Trivandrum language). Each district, each community, each caste has added their own twist to the language. And you thought the toughest thing to do in Kerala was eating fried Karimeen without getting killed by the fish bone stuck in your gullet.

When asked why we eat on banana leaf, my brother, once told some unfortunate Japanese man who had the misfortune of being his friend, that after finishing our food, we fold the leaf and eat that too, like how people eat the cone after finishing the ice cream.

It was a strange sight to behold - three Japanese men trying to fold their banana leaves to a bite size.

We don't include, do we? I made an observation once that we Indians are a nation racists. Its almost a reverse racism, tinged with some sort of cultural righteousness, but its racism nonetheless. I nearly got lynched for it. Which to me meant that I was not that far from the truth.

But as a mallu, we really don’t let anyone get citizenship into our mallu confederation, do we?

I am married to a non mallu. It was not something done purposefully but it happened. Lets just say I was simbly irresistible.

Its now been close to 12 years and every time we attend family weddings, she’s introduced thus :

Oh, this is ------, Tys's wife. She’s from....eh...whats that place's name, molu?

Every single time.

Do I do anything about it? Absolutely not. I am a mallu. We don't do anything, we only show you the folly of our own ways.

That's the funny thing. Have you noticed that like some dominant gene, a mallu will convert everything around him to some semblance of malluness? We do. You don't allow a mallu into your life without getting afflicted by us. My wife's side of family had no chance. Their chappati sabji days were numbered the day they allowed me into their folds.

Its a wonder how she stuck around.

In her attempt to gain entry into the inner santum, she even mastered the sadya - how to make one and how to eat one. She wears the traditional garb like a local. She tries her hand at speaking the noise we call a language. But its a losing battle. I am too much of a coward to tell her that. No matter what she does, she’s never going to be what she dreams to be :

Nama-de  (Ours).

She will remain in the periphery, an exotic inclusion, like many others, to fool ourselves into believing the magnanimity of our mallu culture's ability to include.

She will join the esteemed ranks of the outsider, who waits hopelessly, to be let in.

Avar  (Them).

Now all we need is a sign and we can proceed to take over the world.

Photo credit: thekeralatours.com 

14 Comments

  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    30.08.12 10:57 PM
    @ TYS

    I should have added this jokes to the post to cheer you up which somebody told me today, so here it goes :-

    A guy walks in to a country pub and says to a barman " can I have your finest beer " So the bar man says anything else sir, no says the the guy, so the barman says that's one pence please, "is that it" says the guy, so the barman says "yes", then in that case I will have another says the guy, so after another the barman says that's still one pence, so the guy goes, you are not the boss I take it? no says the barman, So where is he? He is upstairs with my wife says the barman.

    HARRY
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    30.08.12 10:00 PM
    @ TYS

    I don't know TYS, I'm to set in my own ways. Do you know when you get to this age it's difficult to change because we like our own space and comfort, maybe one day TYS, who knows, we will start something new.

    But you know what TYS, I like your excuse, maybe I will use it next time when I get cornered. :) Have good one.

    HARRY
  • tys
    By
    tys
    30.08.12 02:38 AM
    harry...if i say i did, would it make any difference? you are trying to see if a person , on an impersonal medium like the internet , is who he claims to be...i am not one of those...i am not even a nice guy....

    we as , self professed , so called excuse of a writer, doesnt bring anything to the table...we talk about it..but doesnt deliver..

    i belong to that pathetic category of humanity who complains but does not do anything apart from that....

    i am you.. a cog in the machinery of society...justified, conformed and pegged.

    but i promise to cheer you on, if you are different from me...hell, i might even make a movie about you..

    so, the question is , harry, are you going to do it? You will only be a bastard , in my eyes ( which is unfair, since your parent's society influenced criteria should never define you) if you dont become a better man than i can ever be..
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    29.08.12 10:57 PM
    @ TYS

    That's all fine in what you are saying but the question is would you swap your mercedes with fiat?

    At this point you are thinking that harry is a compleat bastard or just bastard or total bastard, where would you catogrise me on the scale TYS. Just curious. I'm laughing while writting this.

    HARRY
  • tys
    By
    tys
    29.08.12 09:57 PM
    harry...u r right...racism is not inborn, it is taught...prejudices are ..but taught...

    thing is a person is not shaped by a few..we had a saying, that it takes a village to bring up a child...in many ways this is the natural way, its neither good nor bad...its how it is..

    but i dont believe that we are slave to it....somewhere along, you do have the power to select and reject...you do have control, if you want to exercise it...you are not, at any point, demanded to follow the herd....you can recreate norms..you can think differently...it will have its price...

    differentiation comes in different packages, it comes as racism , patriotism, gender, generation gap...its easier that way...being a species that has a flocking nature and were nomadic, this is how we survived...by differences...tribes...customs...culture...languages...distances also contributed...to see everyone as same needs a shift of perception and it is even possible only because we r here today...

    apart from parents and society , time and distance also plays a great role in who we are...
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    29.08.12 09:04 PM
    @ TYS

    When you said in the article that we are racists bunch of individuals and I agree to certain extent.

    Would you not agree that it is our culture and society and also our upbringing that's what shapes our attitude and our behaviour toward the others on how we conduct our self.

    Because when the child is young it does not know any different who is who and what is what. So from this we can collectively say that it's external issues that are responsible in our behaviour in general.

    Let me give you an example on my self.
    When I was pennyless I didn't mind who my daughter married, as long as he was a good man, but now that I am well off I would perefer if she married somebody not only good but also well off as well so that she is in same level of society that she lives in now. So now that I am well off, I am now discriminating against a guy who is only good, but not well off, you see what I am saying.

    My excuse for my behaviour is directly due to society pressure that is put on me by others which dictates that I now must have certain standards and values which I did not looked in details when it did not apply to me before. There for we can conclude that society plays big part in who we are and what we do and who we merry and so forth. If you look all this in details then you see nothing but us and them which equals discrimination. period.

    At this point you may say that it does not excuse my behaviour in general and you are right but what I am saying is this, would you swap your Mercedes for a Fiat because I wouldn't and neither would you. This is my excuse and I'm sticking with it. Would not agree TYS?

    HARRY

    PS There are plenty of typos and spelling mistakes in above post which I don't want to cure, but what I want you to see is the point that I'm making.
  • Vivek Iyer
    By
    Vivek Iyer
    29.08.12 08:29 PM
    This is an amazing post. Each line added pride to the mallu part of me :)
  • tys
    By
    tys
    28.08.12 11:26 PM
    nona : happy onam to you too.

    bhadra : :) ... it is when we put it behind a veil of humor.

    lazy pineapple : you shud...a sadya should be put in that list of things one should do before they die.

    surabhi : my sincere condolences....happy onam nevertheless.

    harry : it wasnt my prank...this was my younger brother, who can pull a leg with a straight face...unfortunately , the japanese guys were stopped by the old mallu chettan who was sitting next to them, who thought they were doing a bad job of disposing the leaves...
  • shraddha
    By
    shraddha
    28.08.12 09:44 PM
    nicely written,funny, informative,sensitive, smartly put, and interesting....too curious about sadya....Happy Onam..I had tested Onam food. it hada lot of chutneys and not curries......
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    28.08.12 08:11 PM
    @ TYS

    You did not let those poor japanese eat the banana leaf at the end did you? you are super bad, dude. :) I bet you told them that you will have yours (leaf) later because you have had too much at sadya didn't you. I can't belive that you let it happened. :)

    Happy Onam

    HARRY

    PS Don't eat too much Sadya, It's bad for you in long run dude.
  • surabhi
    By
    surabhi
    28.08.12 07:34 PM
    too good ..can totally relate to it as I am alsoa northin indian and married to a mallu ..
  • Lazy Pineapple
    By
    Lazy Pineapple
    28.08.12 07:13 PM
    too good...I will share this with my Bro-in-law. He is a Mallu :P

    I love Mallu food and would love to give Sadya a shot.
  • Bhadra
    By
    Bhadra
    28.08.12 03:08 PM
    Hahhaha, this was funny :D
  • Nona
    By
    Nona
    28.08.12 01:10 PM
    Happy Onam. :)

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