There are many things as a mallu I am especially proud of.
There's the language that no non mallu can ever get right. You worry and make fun about our accents when we speak your language? Try ours. Go on give it a shot. I would love to hear you say in mallu: I ate a banana while I walked in the rain.
You can’t. No one can without an accent. Unless you are a mallu.
Yet you laugh. It’s funny when you think about it.
Then there's our sadya. The all veg feast that follows a ritual in being consumed. We devised it so that we can weed out the non mallus. The ones we find trying to be like a mallu, we will patronize. It’s our version of making sure that you understand we understand you can never be a mallu in the nicest way possible. We appreciate your attempts but we are confident you will look like you are trying too hard.
You bet it may seem racist but it’s kinder. But you do look, in our eyes, ridiculous in mundu if you are not a mallu. Even if you have a six pack. The pot belly is mandatory. So we appreciate when Bollywood has Preeti Zinta pretending to be mallu and Shah Rukh Khan wearing a dothi and aping movements that are meant to be kalari. We really do. But fuck. We know you are not mallu.
You will never get it right.
That’s the trick. You see for all the mallus you stereotype, with our accents and our idiosyncratic mannerisms, there will still be many of them who will speak your language like a local and blend in so much that you will have a hard time trying to figure out where this fellow is from. But you can’t say the same.
You will always stand out.
We will catch you out come every monsoon.
We are truly the perfect race.
Problem is that we seem to know it. If you didn’t realize it earlier, we are always glad to remind you.
Then there’s our thorthe.
No relation to the hammer wielding Greek god.
It’s the loosely spun cotton towel that you will find in every mallu household.
I do not think there’s an English word invented for it yet, so I will be the first. I name it Thorth.
Mallus will laugh at you if you ever call it that. I mean for us it’s not Krishna, its Krishnan. Not Bhim, but Bhiman. We like a strong ending on our words. Nothing left hanging around. All neatly tied and secured. Preferably with a Thorthe.
The thorthe is the essential part of mallu life. It comes close in its importance to us as coconuts. That’s saying a lot. It figures higher than toddy.
You ransack a mallu house and you will find a thorth. The gold you will invariably find will probably be wrapped in a thorthe.
It’s more than just a towel. It is used as an alternative to a shirt. In a jiffy it can turn itself into a head band, swimwear (leaving nothing to the imagination), a weapon if you put a stone inside and twist it around, a rope (again twisted), a fishing net (I kid thee not) and also as a screen to cover your head when coming out of questionable areas. Since mallu bodies are all similar, we just have to cover our head and hey presto! We disappear.
It’s almost magical.
Especially when Shakeela chechi uses it as her bathing attire. The sight of her coming out of the pool is like going to Thrishoor puram and watching the elephant coming into the courtyard with the idol upon it. Divine!
If you see a thorthe somewhere, there’s a 100% chance that a mallu is close by.
It’s a heartwarming feeling driving through Sand City knowing which flats in the buildings around you houses a fellow mallu just by looking at the laundry hanging from its balcony.
There it flutters, white like a signal of peace and hope, letting the ones who are initiated into its society know; herein lives a mallu, with the TV tuned to Asianet and his heart tuned to the rubber trees of his home land.
A fine species.