Thursday, March 12, 2009

I have heard people saying, “The world is polluted with malayalees, you are sure to find them even on the moon.” Well I have decided to dedicate this blog specially to the “PEOPLE OF GOD’S OWN COUNTRY”. Being a malayalee myself which I think is very obvious by now, I have always encountered questions like ‘oh, you’re a mallu?’ and it has always made me wonder as to why the sudden change in tone and expression once they know I am one. Kerala, a small state located in the southern end of India is known for having the highest literacy rate. And yet just as any other state, Kerala has its own achievements and failures, advantages and disadvantages.

Our society builds certain common ideas and assumptions. And they give certain stereotyped notions regarding certain communities in our country, most commonly Malayalees. And incase you one of those rare species or exceptions that do not show the typical characteristics you would be surprised to see the change in attitude and the amount of equal footing and respect you get. Also comments when you meet somebody new would always be “You don’t look like that you know” and so on which could really get on one’s nerves. This shows that society has categorized them and they find it difficult to accept anything that would dare break their contemporary notions about people.

Having being born and brought up outside, and hence having grown up with children of different nationalities and cultures, I have seen how malayalees are frequently made fun of and I have also had friends who were even ashamed to say they were from Kerala. This was something that always shocked me. Well maybe some or even most mallus (how they refer to them as) are a little orthodox, a little traditional or a little more narrow minded. I don’t see as to how that makes them any different from the people of the rest of the states. We admit we have our own unique characteristics, like everybody else. But we too in the end of the day are Indians!!! Every state has its own tradition and culture. For example when asked to describe a typical Malayalee girl, one always starts off by saying long oily hair, mostly dressed in sari or churidar, loaded with gold etc. But again that is how it is traditionally done in Kerala. Just like it is in any other state, hair is considered to be a girl’s most prized possession. And oiling the hair is believed to do wonders to the hair. Hence it is a custom followed by most women within the state.

One another reason for picking on the malayalees is the accent. It normally happens as a person learns a second language apart from his mother tongue, which was the first language he mastered in, the person is bound to have an accent. Just like how the French or the Germans have an accent when they speak English. Hence the very fact that they are ridiculed and made fun of, makes them hide their identity. But then again, yes just like every other states, Kerala does have a lot of faults, there does exist thefts, robberies, eve-teasing, murders and every other crime.

Well apart from all this there are a lot of malayalees who have reached high positions and made this little state proud. We have Shashi Thoroor, he was a candidate for the UN secretary general post, Paravathy Omnakuttan – 1st runner up Miss World 2008, Resul Pookutty – Won Oscars for best sound mixing in the file Slumdog Millionaire, P.T.Usha, Anju Bobby George – both who have represented India in the Olympics, K.R.Narayanan- Ex-President of India ,the list goes on.

Hence I would like to conclude by saying that India is indeed a great country because of its culture, its traditions and its citizens. Kerala too is a part of the above mentioned, and hence forth just like every other state Kerala and its people play a role in bringing pride to this great nation.


  1. The reason why certain people dont admit that they are from kerala is due to the fact of rejection from friends. They want to belong to the "cool gang".
    And its not cool to oil your hair and outsiders think you have this funny accent.

  2. well, yeah its also true that some people making a living out of this malayalee thing!!! I am sure each one of us have heard of lola Kutty and watched her programme!!

    Anyways i would like to add to this blog by sharing a forwarded e-mail i had receieved!

    If you can fit four passengers in the front seat of an
    > Ambassador taxi, while in the back there are eight
    > passengers and two children
    > with their heads stuck out of the window, chances are, you
    > are a Mallu going to attend your cousin's wedding.
    > If you can run, ride a 100 cc motorbike without wearing a
    > helmet, and play football , all while wearing a lungi tied
    > half-mast, Malayalistatus!
    > If you have more than 5 relatives working in Dufaiii, Big
    > Time Malayali...
    > If you have the words 'Chinchu Mol + Jinchu Mol'
    > written on the rear window of your Omni car, Yes, You ARE a
    > Malaayli.
    > If you refer to your husband as kettiyon; ithiyan,
    > pillerude appan, guess what? You're a Central Travancore
    > Christian Malayali.
    > If you have more than three employee trade unions at your
    > place of work then ask no further, you are indeed a
    > Malayali.
    > If you describe a woman as 'charrakku' Yep!
    > Malayali.
    > If you constantly refer to banana as 'benana' or
    > pizza as 'pissa' you're a Malayali...
    > If you use coconut oil instead of refined vegetable oil and
    > can't figure out why people in your family have
    > congenital heart problems,
    > you might be a Malayali.
    > If you are going out to see a movie at the local theatre
    > with your wifely wearing all the gold jewellery gifted to
    > her by her parents,
    > you are a newly married Malayali...
    > If your idea of haute cuisine is kappa and meen curry,
    > then, yes, you are a Malayali...
    > If you have puttu - kadala for breakfast, beef olathu for
    > lunch, and beef curry with 'borotta' for dinner,
    > yeah, definitely Malalyali.
    > If your name Wilson, and your wife's name is Baby, and
    > you name your daughter Wilby, have no doubts at all, you are
    > a standard Malayali.
    > If you tie a towel around your head and burst into a
    > raucous rendition of the song 'Kuttanaden Punjayile'
    > after having three glasses of
    > toddy, then you are a hardcore Malayali.
    > If you call appetizers served with alcoholic beverages as
    > 'touchings' then you are one helluva Malayali.
    > If you're sick and your wifely rubs 'Bicks'
    > into your nostrils and gives you 'kurumulaku rasam'
    > with chakkara, (grandma's
    > recipe) to help relieve your symptoms, Damn!! You're
    > Malayali.
    > All meant in fun, don't get all 'SIMBLY
    > AGITATED' and pass it on so another Malayali can laff
    > too.
    > Ennu Swandam,
    > Mattoru Malayali................
    > :)

  3. might not know me. For introductions I'm Joshua's brother, Shaji Uncle and Susan aunty's son. Dad forwarded the link to me and asked me to comment....we'll to start of mallu's have a lot of stereotypes attatched to them and many of them. I feel have something to do with the fact that a large percentage of mallu's have gone into the world( meaning outside kerala) to make a living (partly due to the lack of any industries in kerala) and even in a different culture, the socially conditioned traits( things you consider normal and part of life at home) persist giving rise to the stereotypes.. every indian community has certain socially conditioned attributes , but the reason why mallu stereotypes seem to be so obvious is partly due to the large number of mallus present all over the world(because there are no jobs in kerala). Making their stereotyped behaviour obvious(as there are a large number of mallu's to observe, say in the workplace for example?). Another stereotype i recently came to know was that mallus have the brains, but the northies have the looks(i'm not sure whether I should thank them for calling me smart or to be offended for calling me ugly). I hope I was of some help. take care. all the best.

  4. I having blogging for donkeys years and never seen a blogger who does not know how to type in Malayalam yet say they are “mallus”,what an irony??Those who are proud of being a“malayalee” never calls oneself a “mallu’ that word itself is self insult.Obviously everyone will make fun of you when you do not respect your own people and roots and where you come from.What is wrong in making a living outside kerala and all your life you have been living on that money and with that you are old enough to talk,saved strength to gain knowledge your are cutting your own branch where you are sitting??? What is stereotyped behaviour of Mallu,following culture,food and habits,that's why they are collectively called malayalee's who belongs to kerala.This"Swandam,Mattoru Malayali"should learn to type in Malayalam and read Malayalam first, don't you think so???

  5. Though there are so many drawbacks in malayalees,there is always something in us to be proud of that is especially when it comes to marriages, anyone can trust a mallu rather than any other nationality, as they will try to forgive, forget and make it up and keeps the bond till the end.
    An other fact of mallu's is that they can survive at any part of the world in any circumstances holding on to their dignity till the end which we find in no other people.

  6. It is quite natural that all the humors came around you, if everybody knows you with a little jealous. Malayalees are all around the world, and most of them are became a “land mark” in their workplace. If you go through “Sardar Jokes”, do you think all the sardars are budhoos?
    But your second observations are admirable. Keralites are lazy, crazy, ‘do nothing and don’t let to do anything’ people. They are highly negative thinking people. They expecting some one came and do everything for them, even if it is a small thing and he can easily solve.
    Most of them are no aim about the future. It is came to notice that, when I ask about the aim or future in any seminar or classes, 99.98% are not answered or they haven’t an idea about that. “ Kittiya kai kalikkunnu, Nalla oru kai pratheekshikkunnu polum illa”.

    Sure, our attitudes must be changed…………….

  7. For starters,I would assume that most of the people who have posted comments above are Non-resident Malayalees..Ever wondered why you are where you are and not chasing your deams in God's own country?Yes,you could say your family is based outside Kerala,but hey don't you have the choice to go back to your roots???If you opine that there is a lack of opportunities back home then WAKE UP because Kerala is almost as well-developed as any other state!Why does the option of relocating to your hometown surface only when the number of zeroes in your bank balance is dwindling and you want to cool your heels some place else where???
    If an attitude change for all malayalees is suggested,then we might want to rethink our options.I am a Malayalee myself,brought up in Tamil Nadu and Bangalore and still studying in Bangalore.I do not have any qualms in admitting that a complete change of attitude is next to impossible,more so if you got the right outlook!What we can do is take it all in our stride and let our actions(the good ones) speak for us.We are malayalees by birth and it is upto us yo live like malayalees by choice and give those others a run or their money!!

  8. Hey, I think it is a very good blog on MALLU-STEREOTYPING. One reason, I believe people have issues with malayalees is the fact that they are smart. Malayalee brain is very sharp..yes they have accent, but when they open their mouth(esp. in corporate world) people listen. Ideas that malayalee professionals bring in is just amazing and of course hats off to our nurse aunties.

    100% literacy, highest remittance than any other state in the nation, beautful flora and fauna are not what makes Keralam special, but it is the people, their sense of human and most importantly the fact that most of the state loves and fears the Lord and surely the state cherishes the favour of the Lord.

  9. I think that it all comes down to how open minded a person is...If u want to judge people based on their accent and their appearance then that just makes you an opinionated sad,sad human being.Good work on the blog asha.....

  10. Keralites are a part of the larger picture of the beauty of the diversity that makes India the culturally rich country that it is. Point being that just as all cultures have their strengths and weaknesses. Keralites are no different (quite admittedly human). And I think we Keralites need not feel cornered in a sense when ridiculed. Take it in our stride. Take the good and leave out the bad so to speak.
    A lot of arguments are made to show that some of us are better than others and we've got more to offer than others do in the exclusive sense. We learn from each other. We're good alone but better when we stand together. Our weaknesses don't make us sub-human but rather proves our humanity. Our strengths show how we can complement each other to live up to the heritage of India that we take so much pride in.

    I'm proud to be a Keralite just like I'm proud to be an Indian and I'm proud to call ALL Indians my brothers and Sisters.

    Gibson Joy

  11. Very interesting Asha,
    It is true that each community does have its defining attribute, however, I cannot help say that as someone who has been exposed to many Indian cultures, the Keralite culture and the sense of identity does stand out. Maybe it is the fact that, in my experience, Keralites, especially those who havent lived outside Kerala, have this sense of supremacy. I have relatives who will turn their nose up at anyone who is not malayali, who will go as far as to look upon anyone who is different as lesser, as though being different makes them inferior.I have also found that there is an insane need to gossip and find out every juicy detail of everyone else's life, and the list goes on. As an observer, I admit, I have been prone to stereotyping malayalis. While I dont agree with those who make cruel jokes, a few harmless jokes or comments doesnt really mean that the whole world is out to get the keralites. As a keralite who has no sense of belonging to Kerala, your post is an eye opener of sorts.

  12. Interesting topic you chose to write on, and it seems you've opened up quite a discussion here.

    The funny thing about this stereotyping thing is, often times you'll find that keralites do it to their own people. We don’t need it from others; we do quite a good job of it on our own. Hence the whole "I'm so ashamed I'm a malayalee".

    I went through this phase when I was growing up myself. I'd try to do everything possible to hide the fact that I was one, and I didn’t even know why I was doing it at the time. Thankfully my down-to-earth mother could be counted on to knock some sense into my teenage head. Years down the line, while studying at college, I found myself with friends (all happened to be keralite NRIs by the way, except one) who looked down on "home grown boys". By that I mean boys who were born and brought up in Kerala. Apparently they were too narrow minded and chauvinistic.

    Well, I don’t know whether my friends changed their opinion but three years ago I decided to tie the knot with one tall, handsome "home-grown boy" and he is the most broadminded, creative, genuine man I've met. It’s amazing how much we stand to lose when we start to stereotype.

    Like my mother told me, "There's no point denying your keralite-ness, its part of who you are. You don’t have to be like everyone else but remember you’ll always be a keralite. "

    Maybe we cant stop those who stereotype, but perhaps we can do much to ensure there's little truth in it.

  13. Your topic is interesting,Asha. I believe that every country/state has its own way of speaking, dressing and doing things and it is not typical only of Keralites. Since Malayalees are found all over the world - because of their education -they will be more noticed than some other groups. As long as it does not do any harm to anyone, it is OK. All the same, it is worth looking into whether we tend to class people according to certain superficial characteristics.

    I am a Malayalee myself and had been to many parts of the world. In Brazil, I was taken for a Brazilian; in Mexico, I was taken for a Mexican; in the Philippines, my nose gave out. Since I wear short hair, very often I am asked if I am a Goan or a Mangalorean. So, you see, the stereotyping is not hard and fast... and that is good.

  14. You can identify a typical Malayali (especially those who have studied in schools run by Kerala Government) if you hear the following words pronounced:

    kangaroo (the worst offended word, Malayalees/Indians pronounce as “kanGAROO” instead of “KANgroo”)

    mixed, fixed (pronounced as 'miksed', 'fiksed' instead of 'miksd', 'fiksd')

    bear, pear, wear (pronounced as ‘biyar’, ‘piyar’, 'wiyer' instead of ‘beye’, ‘peye’, 'weye')

    beer (pronounced as "biiir" instead of "biye")

    auto (pronounced as "aaatto" instead of "otto")

    Queen (prounounced as “kyuun” instead of “kween”)

    form (pronounced as ‘farum’ instead of “fom”)

    biennale (pronounced as “binale” instead of “bienale”)

    place names – Ohio, Seattle, Utah (pronounced as “ohiyo, seetl, ootha” instead of “ohayo, siyatl, yuta”)

    Tortoise (pronounced as ‘tortois’ instead of “totis” )

    turtle (pronounced as ‘turrrtil’ instead of “tutl” )

    Mascot Hotel (pronounced as “muskut HOtel” instead of “MAScot hoTEL”)

    heart (pronounced as ‘hurrt’ instead of “haat”)

    bass (pronounced as ‘baas’ instead of “beis”)

    twitter (pronounced as “tyooter” instead of “twiter”)

    birthday (pronounced as “birthaday” instead of “buthdei”)

    garage (pronounced as “garej” instead of “gaRAZH/gaRAJ”)

    chassis (pronounced as “chasis” instead of “shasi”)

    divorce (pronounced as "daiverse" instead of "divors")

    February (pronounced as “fibruari” instead of “februari”)

    November (pronuonced as "NOVember" instead of "noVEMber"

    one (pronounced as "onn" instead of "wun")

    pizza (pronounced as "pisa" instead of "pitza")

    our (pronounced as "avar" instead of "aue")

    flour (pronounced as "flower" instead of "flaue")

    alarm (pronounced as "alarum" instead of "alaam")

    volume (books) (pronounced as "vaalyam' instead of "volyum")

    film (pronounced as "filim" instead of 'film')

    little (pronounced as "littil" instead of 'litl')

    Sultan's Battery (pronounced as "Soolthan Batheri" instead of "Sultan's Batri")