Let’s play a quick round of the Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara-fame ‘mind game’, shall we?
Quick, in 10 seconds, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word KERALA?
If you answer with ‘God’s Own Country’, ‘coconuts’, ‘banana leaves’ or ‘houseboats’, you’re going to be judged for propagating stereotypes.
Just kidding, most Malayalees probably think along the same lines too. Probably. But there is so much more to this coastal state than what Bollywood films picturise. Having lived outside Kerala most of my life, I’ve come across some pretty bizarre questions about Kerala myself – “do the women wear lungis as well?”, “are you all Rajinikanth fans?”, “are Malayalam and Kerala two different places?”
So, I asked around and got some popular opinions from non-Malayalees about Kerala. It’s myth-busting time people!
1. We eat on banana leaves
We do and we love it. While there was a time when our ancestors had most meals on banana leaves, it’s limited to special occasions like Onam, Vishu and birthdays now. It’s economical, environment-friendly, hygienic and adds a subtle freshness to the food. Traditionally, Kerala sadhya, our king-sized meal of 26 dishes, is always served on a banana leaf. You can read more about that and other must-have dishes from Kerala here – [Top 5 Authentic Kerala Food That Will Leave You Craving For More].
Judgement – FACT
2. Coconut in EVERYTHING
A ridiculously large number of Malayalee friends told me they’ve been asked if they put coconut in everything – including tea! Now that’s just disgusting (and slightly offensive since, like most Indians, we take chai very seriously). Being a state that produces roughly 45% of India’s coconuts, it would be a sorry waste if we didn’t utilize it. Plus, the wisest thing to do in terms of health is to stick to what your ancestors have been using for centuries. Coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut palm jaggery, freshly grated coconut – we use it all in our cooking. Basically, we go nuts over our coconuts, but we aren’t crazy enough to use it in our beverages.
Judgement – FACT FICTION
3. ‘Malayalee’ is a language
Now that is just painful to hear. In conversation with a close friend, she confessed that she has corrected some of her friends multiple times, but they refuse to learn. When we live in such a technologically advanced age with information at our fingertips, we really can’t afford to make such ignorant statements. So, let me break it down for you in case you’re confused –
Kerala – the place
Malayalam – the language
Malayalees or Keralites – the people
Judgement – Ob-viously FICTION
4. Malayalees are everywhere
Yes. We are. And here’s why – The Migratory Malayalee: Why God’s Own People Left Their Country
Judgement – FACT
5. The movies are full of unrealistic action sequences
I see how you might have got us confused with our neighbours there, so no offence taken. The Malayalam film industry is actually quite particular about producing story-driven, realistic movies and we have a low tolerance for mind-numbing stunt scenes. We take pride in our collection of classic films which we promise you (cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die) are better than their remakes in other languages.
Judgement – FICTION
6. Malayalees tend to stick together
In my personal opinion, I don’t think this “affinity towards your own people” should be attributed just to Keralites. I’ve seen it in people from other states across India as well. While an elitist attitude which stops you from conversing with other people is obviously unhealthy, I think what drives people to stick to their own kind is the ease of being able to speak in a familiar tongue. It’s all about the effortlessness of being in your comfort zone.
Judgement – FACT (But it’s not just a Malayalee thing)
7. The land of Ayurveda
The pleasant climate and abundance of monsoon showers make Kerala the ideal destination for Ayurvedic rejuvenation. It is probably the only state in India where Ayurveda is practiced as a mainstream medicine. In fact, there are several Ayurvedic hospitals and medical colleges across the state. Can you blame Justin Bieber for demanding an Ayurvedic masseuse from Kerala on his first Indian tour?
Judgement – FACT
We’re proving to the world that India is more than just a land of snake-charmers, but breaking internal stereotypes starts with us. Share some absurd stereotypes you’ve heard in the comments section below, let’s bust some coconutty-myths!
Image Credits – Google Images