Monday, January 16, 2012

The Fundamental Rights of a Malayali

I have just about surfaced from the feeling of abject misery that one wallows in after returning from an amazing holiday. This feeling of abject misery permeates ones entire soul at the start of one’s return flight and continues to grow in intensity in inverse proportion to the distance from one’s hometown. It hits a peak when one is standing in the long queue in front of the immigration counter, staring with blank eyes at the surly looking Govt. official who makes it a point to sneer at you after he looks insultingly in turn at your well rounded figure and the passport photo taken when you were ten years younger and about a dozen kilos lighter. The misery is compounded by the family of 8 who has callously wriggled into the queue ahead of you after planting an advance guard of one aggressive young woman who was doubtlessly an Asian Games sprinter and who has established territorial rights over the entire 1st to 8th position in the queue for her family by being the first one to reach, much as Chris Columbus did. The misery somewhat abates after the immigration ordeal, but again peaks when one has to wait endlessly for one’s baggage with a heart full of dark thoughts about the airport, the airlines, the ministry of civil aviation, Manmohan Singh, Mahender Singh Dhoni (because the schmuck lost yet another test that very morning), the man standing in-front of you scratching his butt and humanity as a whole. This overall pall of misery abates only slowly over the next entire day, assisted somewhat by being able to curl up in your own bed, watch your favorite programs on TV and eat Rasam and rice.

Now this time, the misery was dark as dark could be, because the holiday was great as great could be. It was in Bali, it was with amazing friends and we were staying in an awesome resort. Bali is so similar in natural beauty to my home, Kerala, that I couldn’t but wonder why Kerala does not exhilarate me as much as Bali did. Don’t mistake me, Kerala is a great place for a holiday, really ‘gods own country’. But I have had the ‘experience’ of a lifetime spending couple of years of my adult life in Kerala. In terms of excitement, that experience falls somewhere between being bludgeoned continuously every 30 seconds with a blunt object and having 220 volts of electricity being applied intermittently to your backside every five minutes. Massive ups and downs if you get my drift. I often ask myself why this is so. The answer always comes back to ‘The Fundamental Rights of a Malayali’.

To understand the ‘Fundamental Rights of a Malayali’, one has to first understand the psyche of a Malayali. The Mallu is one incredibly sensitive being. I have long pondered on why the good lord made Mallus so fair minded, yet so darned bristly at the same time. Finally, in a moment of inspired insight, the answer came to me. Unlike the rest of humanity, who evolved from mere monkeys, the Mallu has evolved from porcupines. This simple fact, so well hidden from Darwin (possibly because his limited experience never encompassed extreme cases such as meeting a Mallu), explained the bristling behavior of the Mallu. Having laid the foundation, I have taken great pains to put down a comprehensive list of the ‘Fundamental Rights of a Malayali’, a compendium of guiding principles which govern a Mallu’s life, his interaction with other Mallus and with other lower level mortals and why his ‘each particular hair stands on end like the quills upon the fretful porpentine’ (as you can see, Bill Shakespeare on the other hand, has certainly experienced a Mallu to have written these lines so appropriately) when he is affronted (as is his usual wont).
 The ‘FRoaM’ reads as follows…

Right to equality – Every Mallu is born a communist unless otherwise specified by his/her parents. They shall continuously strive to create a society of equals by uplifting themselves as much as humanly possible and after that by subtly taking potshots at others who are more equal.  

Right to Samaram(strike) – Every Mallu at birth is inculcated with vast knowledge of Satyagraha, which he/she hones by continuous practice of striking at least once every month from grade 1 to the age of 77. During months in which holidays are limited, he/she strikes several times extra to get his/her rightful number of off days.

Right to Flag Hoisting – Every Mallu male is entitled to hoisting his Mundu or his Lungi several inches above his knees and to showing off his hairy legs while pretending  to be Silk Smitha.

Right to Freedom of Spirit – Every Mallu must at all points in time be pickled liberally and should strive for this exalted spiritual state by imbibing from early morning. Even if he has to queue up in front of the Kallu Shaap before it opens at the ridiculously late hour of 8AM.

                A corollary to this is Right to Brandy – A true blue Mallu shall only drink Brandy, since he is able to assuage his guilt by pretending that the good spirit is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Right to Red rice & Fish curry – A  Mallu may consume fish curry and red rice any time of the day starting 6AM.
                A corollary to this is right to Beef fry and Porotta, right to Appam and Muttakkari and right to Tapioca and Fish curry. (except that Appam and Muttakkri may start at 5 AM.)

Right to Consider Sreesanth as the God of Cricket – The Mallu does not believe in RamG’s epic story on the 10th Avatar of Vishnu being Sachin Tendulkar as given in Oh God!!. In his mind, Sreesanth is the only god of cricket and has been unfairly treated by Krishnamachari Srikanth, a mere jealous Paandi.

Right to Murder English Pronunciation- This is a very Fundamental and inalienable right of a Mallu. Specifically, he may murder all words having an ‘O’ in them or may 'simbly' substitute a ‘B’ for a ‘P’ every time it dares to make an appearance after an ‘M’. The same may be said of a ‘K’ or a hard ‘C’ if they so much as try to jump in ahead of an ‘L’ as any of my ‘Ungles’ may agree.

Right to Amazing Names – A  Mallu may be named by clubbing together any set of right sounding syllables as in the case of Jiju, Joji, Shiny, Shiji, Shiju… etc. Siblings may adopt rhyming agglomeration of syllables as in the case of Jincy and Lincy or even Tiju, Liju and Biju.

 Right to scoff at Tamilians – A Mallu may at all times treat the Tamilian as an inferior being (Having actually drawn a substantial part of their cultural heritage from Tamil Nadu) and may call them Paandis.  
                A corollary is that the Mallu has the right to be offended if the Tamilian retailiates by calling him a ‘Malayali Gentleman’ in a sneering fashion. For more on this, you may read up my treatise on the subject as given in 'The Amazing Adventures of a Tamil Brahmin' aka 'How to tame a tame father in law’

Finally, and most importantly, the Mallu has a Right to Bristle at all insults, real, imagined or not yet imagined.  He has to uphold the traditions of his ancestor, the fretful porpentine. A very very important corollary to this is that all male Mallus must sport some of the quills inherited from their ancestors on their face- namely on their upper lip. This helps them bristle.

That, my friend, completes my well researched document on the Fundamental Rights of a Malayali. Now let me warn you, we Mallus are actually amazing. We have religious harmony, communal harmony, sex ratio, development index, literacy rate, female infant mortality, all to prove that we are a great breed. And we even have the ability to laugh at ourselves. But if you, who is evolved from a mere ape and not an exalted porcupine even so much as dare chuckle at this article, we shall all bristle in indignation, and poke your sorry backside with so many quills that you will never be able to sit again to have your Masal Dosas and your Tandoori Chickens.            


Vallath Nandakumar said...

A very fun article to read. But the porpentine quote is no more Wodehouse's than it is Jeeves's. It is from Hamlet, by Sheshappa Iyer, a Tamil upstart.

I once tried to explain to someone who sneered about Malayalam accent about single intervocalic unvoiced plosive consonants becoming voiced in Malayalam, but he couldn't figure out what I meant. Probably a northie.

Ramgopal Vallath said...

Hi I have given all credits to Sheshappa Iyer. May the Tam upstarts prosper.
As for your unvoiced plosives, may I suggest this Mallu is as clueless as your Northie friend?

Vallath Nandakumar said...

Oh, for some reason I thought you had attributed it to PGW.
To know what a plosive is, look it up in Wikipedia.
Basically, k, ch, t, p become g, j, d, b when between vowels, including the vowel 'am' :-)
You pseudo-Malayali you!

Nihit Gupta said...

Osum :)

Shobha said...

This requires a sequel about Palghat Brahmins who share their lineage with both Mallus and Tambrams.

Ranjini Mitra-Rajendran said...

Very nicely poked, as I am a true blue Malayali. Thanks to you....enjoying Gurgle and was searching for the next book. When is it coming out?

Ramgopal Vallath said...

Hi Ranjini,
Thanks a ton. how did you hear about the book? The next book is being edited - it is called Oops and the Planet of the Apps.