Each community in India has their own quirks, many cities too. Now I am no expert on all the communities but I have interacted with some closer than the others and have discovered each have their admirable traits, some that are downright funny and some that are quite vile. Now who wants to read paeans of praise…let’s face it, we all (okay, most of us!) like to rip into others or read others ripping into them! So, here go my (wicked) observations on each community that I have interacted with. Politically correct…these are not. So if you are going to take offence, please don’t read. The last thing I want is hate mail!
A society of hypocrites
Thought I’d start with my own community lest I get accused of being biased! God’s own country is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty of the breathtaking variety. Unfortunately, its residents can’t be said to share the heavenly traits that the land possesses. Now here is a community that is by and large hypocritical, narrow minded and parochial. If you trace the history of the Nair community in Kerala, it was fairly liberal and women could even have multiple sex partners (not that it meant they were not sexually exploited but many were libertines by choice). Today, interaction between the sexes is looked down upon…net result…a community that is sexually frustrated. (I can hear outraged gasps). Now what happens …the men, in particular, are frustrated. Also, today, unfortunately, the average man in Kerala has no respect for women. Apart from Delhi (which is a hotbed of frustrated ‘machismo’, chauvinistic men) and Bihar (where goons with political patronage think women are slaves), the average Mallu man on the street is FRUSTRATED and has NO respect for women.
My worst experiences of eve teasing have been in Delhi and Kerala. While the Mallu man may ogle lecherously at a firang woman, they take offence to an Indian, especially Mallu, woman, dressing in jeans and being independent. The comments they pass are downright lewd and offensive. Given a chance, they will try and paw women, especially the so-called ‘Westernised’ Indian, especially Westernised Mallu, woman. I’ve encountered it countless times…to the point where I was traumatised about travelling on trains to God’s own country. The prospect of encountering frustrated Mallu men on the train once we’d enter the beautiful state would make me shudder. Oh yes, I’ve even got pawed inside the ‘sacred’ confines of the famous Guruvayoor temple…not by some uneducated lumpen lout but by an educated, decent looking young man. Makes me wonder…have they come there to pray or lech and finger women?
Continuing about hypocrisy…take drinking. Kerala has the highest per capita alcohol consumption. But talk to the womenfolk in the state and one would think this is a state where drinking barely happens. A few times that I’ve observed, the men don’t drink larges; they gulp down patialas like the liquor bottle is going to disappear! And, a sizeable number of Malayalee women drink…but surreptitiously. So, if you decide to drink openly, and you are a woman (horror, horror!), you are but naturally branded ‘loose’. “Loose’…a term I’ve heard so often…obviously applied to me since I wear jeans, sleeveless tops, drink and smoke (Ishwara!) . The fact that I don’t claim to be drinking coke while enjoying my rum and coke doesn’t attract any admirers! Only brickbats!) Behave yourself in a society that puts a premium on hypocrisy and you will be welcomed with open arms. Drink if you must, but no one should know.
Let’s go on to the next big thing…adultery. Now, that is apparently a huge, huge happening in the Lord’s chosen state. Why? It’s the ‘gulf marriage phenomenon’. Young men and women are married off to each other. The man goes off to the Gulf (every Mallu’s favourite destination). The women are left languishing and frustrated. What happens? Extra marital affairs on both sides…the man (in the Gulf) has his needs (as everyone who wants to excuse a philandering man would say), and the women (left behind for years often) (yeah, they have sexual needs too…if only the hypocrites in Mallu land would realise), have their share of affairs (of the heart or the body, one can’t say). Whether it is adultery or college crushes or love affairs, everything is kept hush hush in this strictly circumscribed society. As long as ‘four people’( ‘nalla aala’ a colloquial term) don’t talk about you, it’s fine.
In the meanwhile, Mallu society drinks themselves silly, the men especially (but it’s alright…men can drink and get abusive; it is their birthright according to society); the man on the street is the worst example of eve teasing (frustration has to find an outlet); many women find their meaning in life in secret love affairs or alcohol (masquerading as Coke, Sprite or Fanta)…but ask a Mallu of any religion…and they will boast about how their society is the best. In Kerala, hypocrisy rules (which is not to say it doesn’t in other societies; it’s just different avatars). In God’s own country, as long as you are outwardly moral, you could be anything otherwise. Only appearances count. If ‘four people’ say you are good, you are saved!
To be continued….