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Here We Go 'Round The Malabari Bush

Here We Go 'Round The Malabari Bush

May 23, 2011

How to spot and handle an angry Mallu.

I am an easy going chap.

You can cross the street, push past me rudely and walk on.

I won’t do anything. I will probably say 'excuse me' on your behalf.

You can cut me in a queue and I still won’t react.

But call me a Malabari; you will carry my knuckle print on your face and have a new organic locket to match the cast you are going to wear - your teeth.

I am from Kerala and you can call me a Malayali, a Keralite; hell, you can even call me a mallu, but Malabari is where I draw the line.

Just thought that you should know.

Time for a lesson in history and anthropology.

Malayali, the official name of a Keralite, (no, not the stuff that kills Superman - that’s Kryptonite) comes from the combination of two Malayalam words (this, for the slow ones out there, is what we Malayalees speak). Mala, meaning mountains and Aal meaning person. Kerala is mountainous due to the Western Ghats. So technically we are mountain people. The northern part of Kerala was called Malabar. You don't have to be Einstein to figure out why.

So technically I should not get offended when I am called a Malabari by a person whose mother is known affectionately as man's best friend. But I do.

It’s like calling all Americans George Bush.

It’s insulting. You can’t pinpoint why but you know that it’s not meant in a nice way.

Last week I was on the phone with a client and in the course of the conversation he said something about me being a malabari. So, I corrected him by saying:??'Not a Malabari, you mother f*****, a Malayali'

Don't know why, but I find comfort in correcting people and leading them to knowledge.

The thing is that by now you would expect everyone to know this. After all, every single human in the world would have had at least one interaction with a Keralite. We are the humanized version of flu. We are everywhere. The last I checked, we have even declared God as a mallu by naming our prawn of a state, God's Own Country.

If you look into your family tree, you are bound to find a mallu somewhere there, probably in a lungi and definitely without a shirt. If you have a penchant for growing your mustache and sporting chest hair (this applies even if you are a woman), you can officially celebrate Onam and call your best friend polayadi mon.

But our dead give away trait is that we laugh the loudest at ourselves because we think the joke is always on someone else and we just don't work well with each other.

Yep. Welcome to the club.

I guess we are too globalized to be so localized. 


  • aqualily
    19.06.15 01:47 PM
    why do you find malabari offensive? My family name is Malabari and there is A LOT of this family name in Saudi Arabia where I live. As I was told, Malayali Muslims are called Malabari to differentiate between hindu and muslim Malayali. As the Arabian gulf is an Islamic region, Muslim Malayali, Malabari, migrate or go to work there more than other places of the world. hence almost all of them here are Malabari and are never offended by the word. If someone asked they mostly have no idea of the difference, just correct them and go ~
  • tys
    19.04.12 02:37 AM
    fred, that was extremely informative, though you base it upon language. Kerala is , historical wise a new region. Myths claim that the land rose from the seas. The ghats that surrounds the land is volcanic. People who populate it now are migrants. The language is an amalgam of several dravidian tongues. Malabar is what we term a certain region in kerala. The arabs had trade routes with Kerala in was and is termed as Malabar. I guess it makes sense for us to be called malabari by an arab..but to me, it i said, i dont know why, it just seems like being pegged...i am not a malabari..i am , by virtue of my birth in a place a keralite, by the odds of natures whims a human. I do not like to be pegged, since I am still discovering myself.
  • Fred
    18.04.12 10:38 PM
    For French people, a Malabar is nothing bad, only a strong man
  • tys
    18.04.12 03:20 PM
    there you go..thanks Noel for putting that in perspective :)
  • tys
    18.04.12 12:22 PM
    no reason.just does.
  • Noel
    18.04.12 12:21 PM
    @Malabari: it is (or was) used against keralites in the Gulf by Arabs in the same way as 'nigger' was used by white people against blacks.

    You'll have to be really lucky not to be called (or heard someone being called) a malabari if you lived in the Gulf.
  • Malabari
    18.04.12 08:47 AM
    You never explained why you are offended by Malabari? This article is also very rudely written and has no point to it. As a Malayalee, I've never heard anyone being called a Malabari and still dont understand why you were offended by it. Even after reading this pointless, poorly written post.
  • Rajpriya
    07.12.11 07:51 AM
    @tys At last I seem to get the hang of it, why many people ask me if I was "Malayali" when I happen to be in India. "have a penchant for growing your mustache and sporting chest hair"

    The only problem, the chest hair is growing out of control and I have to borrow my neighbors lawn mower every other fortnight to trim and the German's say it cannot be classed as green garbage and add more tax for disposal.

    ill be appreciated
  • sunith
    06.12.11 09:58 PM
    Haha.. atleast they didnt call you Madarasi.. :)
  • tys
    11.06.11 11:05 PM
    @alfred: :) wasnt it? Aftr sometime even i started believing it...makes perfect sense doesnt it? Mala aal ....i bet yem at the end was actually M...:)

    i think malabari usage is very gulf...probably an arab thing becoz of the centuries of trading with i really shudnt be offended...but hey i need something, dont i ?
  • Alfred Jones
    Alfred Jones
    11.06.11 07:24 PM

    I grew up with a bunch of mallu friends but I'd never heard of this 'malabari' thing, ever. (If I had, there's a good chance I would have pummelled my kutti buddies with it!) Are you sure you haven't dug up some obscure and arcane reference that has been out of vogue, oh I don't know, since independence?!

    By the way, that whole "mala" plus "aal" gimmick you pulled of explaining the meaning of "malayalam", that is SUCH an uncle-ji move my friend - or should I say ungull-ji. Either way, consider yourself inducted, membership card is in the mail.

  • Noel
    23.05.11 03:25 AM
    nice!!! :)

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