What is like to be born in a Malayali family?

Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:

Thank you for the A2A.

Even though I was raised entirely outside of India, my mom has done an amazing job of making our home feel like somebody uprooted a piece of Kerala and brought it here ^_^

  • Even if you live in a culture where having cornflakes and fruits is considered to be a normal breakfast, the breakfast being served on the table will be either puttu+chana (kadala) curry+banana+pappadam or idli+chutney or appam+egg roast, etc.
  • There is no question of the family going to the cinema to watch an English/Hindi/Tamil movie. Going to the cinema is ONLY for Malayalam movies. Period. If we want to watch non-Malayalam movies, watch it on a DVD or online. Ho! Who will spend that much money to watch a movie if it’s not Malayalam?
  • We have to explain a hundred times to bewildered non-Keralite Hindus as to why we don’t celebrate Diwali, Holi, Navratri, etc.
  • We don’t celebrate our date of birth as our birthday. It’s always the date according to the Malayalam calendar.
  • When we see a fellow Malayali, it is almost customary to ask a few basic questions…in this order…
    • Are you from Kerala?
      • Yes
    • Oh! Malayali aano? (Oh, are you a Malayali?)
      • (Duh!) Yes
    • Naattil evideya? (Where is your native place in Kerala?)
  • We still discreetly try to find out the religion and caste of a fellow Malayali acquaintance that we have just met. Sometimes it’s not obvious from their name. And it is considered extremely impolite these days to ask directly. I have actually seen a lot of people go to great lengths to find this out 😛 What is your father’s name? Full name? Your grandfather’s name? His father’s name? LOL 😛 It’s not that we discriminate against anyone. Hell no! It’s just a weird yet harmless fetish.
  • We don’t wish each other ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good evening’ 😀 When we see a fellow Malayali friend, just a broad smile and an ‘Ah!’ would suffice as a warm greeting 😀
  • Most of us have grown up being excessively fond of the temple melams…especially those from Thrissur, Ernakulam and the northern districts.
  • A lot of Malayalis adjust their leaves so that they can be there for their local temple festival that usually last for anything between 1 week to 10 days.
  • No festival is complete without a full sadya with sambar, aviyal, kaalan, upperi, thoran, maangakkari, puliyinchi, pappadam and payasam!
  • No matter where we travel, we find our parents going in search of south Indian restaurants. Any food beyond the borders of Kerala are classified under either ‘too sweet’, ‘too bland’ or ‘too much masala’. Haha!
  • There will be at least two to three people named Appu, Kuttan, Ammu, Malu and Unni. And they are identified by their parent’s names. Jaya’s Ammu, Nandan’s Malu, Shobha’s Kuttan, Jayan’s Unni 😛
  • We are tired of explaining to people that all the people with the surname ‘Nair’ are not related.
  • You’re either a Mammootty fan or a Mohanlal fan. No, you are not allowed to be neutral…or say ‘neither’, for that matter.
  • Every cinema loving Malayali still remembers the cinema of Bharathan and Padmarajan with a long and deep sigh. Me too!
  • We love our slang words – Pathraas, Simblan, Sasi, Savarigirigiri, Pandaaram, Thengakkola, Adipoliii!, Dingolfi, Veshamkettu 😛
  • Sarcasm runs in the blood 😛
  • We are expected to be walking and talking representatives of our respective clans. One wrong move and the veil of disgrace would fall on the heads of the entire family.
  • You are expected to have a bath twice a day. People ask ‘Kulikkanilley?’ (Aren’t you taking a bath?) in the same casual tone as asking ‘Kazhikkanilley?’ (Aren’t you eating?) They are equally important.
  • Natural beauty is celebrated and a woman with make-up is stared at a tad accusingly as if silently asking “What is the need for all that? She is a Malayali. She is naturally beautiful!
  • Any restaurant menu item with the word ‘Naadan’ as a prefix is ordered without even thinking twice 😛 Anything ‘naadan’ is desirable, for that matter. Naadan food, Naadan sundari, Naadan reethi.
  • Any Malayali woman worth her salt will have her kitchen always having a decent stock of Palakkadan matta, coconut oil, shallots and freshly desiccated coconut.
  • Many of us could identify mango varieties just by smelling them – moovaandan, priyur, chandrakkaaran, alphonsa, salem, etc.
  • My father is from Shoranur and my mother is from Tripunithura. There is a marked difference in the local dialects and certain words have totally different meanings in both places. For instance, a cow is called ‘pai’ in Dad’s place and ‘Pai’ is a surname in mom’s place. We are expected to understand all the dialects…at least to some degree. It gets even more hilarious the further apart the districts are. In southern Kerala, ‘appi’ means chap/fellow, and in northern Kerala, ‘appi’ has a totally different meaning 😛 LOL
  • No matter how much it rains, we are still fascinated by it and look forward to the rains year after year.
  • Everyone has their own umbrella. And each person takes care of their Aadhar Card and their umbrellas with equal importance. And if they lose it, they are visibly upset 😛
  • We never, as in never ever, run out of Neelibhringadi at home.
  • If we are at a place where Mathrubhumi/Malayala Manorama is unavailable, we install the app in our phones and read the local news of our district from there before looking at the actual local newspapers 😀 Nothing like some crisp Malayalam news along with your first morning coffee ^_^

Oh I could go on and on! Let’s just say that if ever I am born into this world one more time, I would hope and pray that I be born as a Malayali again and again and again ^_^

What is like to be born in a Malayali family?


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