Monthly Archives: November 2014

Typical Things that You Can Never Miss When in Kerala


Every culture has their own stereotypes that its members find offensive. For instance, Punjabis don’t do ‘balle balle’ every time they’re happy or meet someone, neither do their brains work only after midnight (Manmohan Singh can attest to that). But there are a few things stereotypes about us Malayalis that are true to a large extent:

  • Kuda :

The Kuda which translates into umbrella in English is a must in every Malayali household. In fact, it is the duty of every wife/mother to remind the men of the house to carry their umbrella before leaving the house. And they have to follow this ritual even if there are no signs of rain.

There’s a reason why our kudas are so important for us. The weather of Kerala is such that it rains for almost half of the year. And when it chooses to bless us with its presence, it’s never in the form of a drizzle. It’s always a downpour!

  • Discussions About the Gelf:

gulf malayalam news

Every Malayali that you meet either works in the ‘Gelf’ or has a relative or friend who works there. In fact, it would be safe to assume that Malayalam is the second language in Middle East countries.

  • Thattu Kadas:

Thattu kadas are our version of the typical Punjabi dhabas found commonly in the North. From steaming hot idlis to hot doshas (dosas are what the rest of the country calls them), appams and puttu, every breakfast item can be found in these shops. Some usually open before sunrise to accommodate the lorry drivers who’re probably weary of the night travel.

  • ‘Hartals’ or strikes can happen at the drop of a hat:

When in Kerala, never make a plan without consulting the Communist sakha (comrade) in your neighborhood. With more than a hundred hartals happening annually, Kerala is probably the only state where you can be sure that a strike called by any political party will be a hit.

Decoding the Malayalee English

Decoding the Malayalee English

There’s a lot written about the clichéd portrayal of Malayalees; be it the way we pronounce certain words, or our affinity for the ‘Gelf’. To be honest, some are true and hilarious while others are downright rude. But I’m not here to fly the communist flag in protest, neither do I plan to wax eloquent about how we Malayalees speak better English that the rest of the country.  The purpose of my blog is to help the typical traveler to God’s own country decode the quintessential Malayalee accent.

Every person in Kerala or someone from his family or friend circle works in the ‘Gelf’ or ‘Thubaai’ (read Dubai). Don’t be surprised if you hear this word too often- what the speaker actually means is the Gulf (the term here refers to any country that’s rich in oil and in the Middle East).

Although the archetypal drunk Malayali found in kallu shaaps (read shops) or toddy bars is facing extinction, you may come across many offering you a friendly ‘biir’ (read beer). If you ever happen to meet him in his elements, I’d suggest you to enjoy the entertainment that follows; for he will dance and sing as long as he can without a care about the world.

And when we Malayalis don’t understand what you’re saying, we zimbly (read simply) ask ‘vaat’. That translates to what in plain English. And no, we don’t think it is rude to ask people to repeat what they say. And neither do we expect you to be uber polite about it- just say ‘vaaat’ and we’ll understand that you haven’t understood.

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a Kerala Sadhya, don’t stand there gobsmacked when your host asks you to ‘yeat ae baenana’. He intends well and is only requesting you to ‘eat a banana’!