Disclaimer: Originally published in February 2018. It is being republished since it still remains an interesting topic till today.
Honest confession: I love stereotypical jokes. Whether they are the usual Santa-Banta jokes or the Chacha Vidhayak Hai routine, I find the humor amusing and often, rib-tickling. The same is true about jokes on Malayalis. After all, we are a proud folk who know how to take a good joke.
What I do hate is laziness. What I hate is a lack of imagination and creativity. What I hate are sloppy, repetitive, recycled jokes. Which is what most of today’s stereotypical humor is.
No, We don’t spend our days climbing up coconut trees
How does one imagine Kerala in their head? Green backwaters with slow-moving houseboats, lined with coconut and banana trees. Guess what? That’s a borderline fair picture of Kerala. Why borderline? Because that’s just Alappuzha for you. The rest of Kerala doesn’t have that many coconuts, let alone backwaters.
Okay, maybe we do have a lot of coconuts. And, bananas too. But, have you read one of those many jokes which start like, ‘A Malayali climbs up a coconut tree….?’ Well, that ain’t true. No Malayali climbs up them these days. We have sickles and pulleys and stones (?) for that work now. Anything the neighbourhood Communists would lend us or let us buy.
We don’t begin every sentence with Vanakkam and end it with Ayyo
For starters, Vanakkam isn’t Malayalam (yes, Malayalam is the language, not Malayali. Fun fact: Malayalam happens to be a Palindrome. We know that. That’s the kind of stuff you know when the State literacy is over 90%), it’s Tamil.
And despite what the Oxford English Dictionary may claim, Ayyo isn’t even a word. It’s merely an expression. An expression that is not common to Malayalis alone but is instead used across parts of India.
Truth is, I don’t even know what the Malayalam word for greeting is. Why is that? Because, whatever the word was, has been going rapidly out of use with a rise in English-medium education. Heck, even if one isn’t English-educated, Hello accounts for most greetings.
Point is, we love our language. But, we don’t exercise it incessantly every second of every conversation we ever have.
Ayyo, for instance, is an expression arising out of either frustration, annoyance or regret. What do most people say when they feel the need? S#!T. A few of us use the F Word but well, can’t let our grandparents know that. So, the next time you read any Malayali humor that ends with Ayyo, use the F-word. Please.
Not every Malayali has a job in the Gulf, a relative who is a Nurse and a speech that is accented
I guess we are to blame for the first count. Yes, a lot of us go to the Gulf. For jobs, and for other purposes. Doesn’t mean we own the Gulf. In fact, most of the Gulf countries want to push Indians out to make way for their local workforce. So please, no more Sheikh Dubai and Malayali jokes. It’s getting outdated.
Same with a lot of Malayali women being nurses. A significant number of them are nurses, yes. Doesn’t mean everyone is. Please keep your questions about trivial medical matters to yourself the next time you meet a Malayali woman. I mean, it’s one thing to enquire about a paper cut, another if you’re vomiting blood, bile, and guts.
Finally, a lot of us have an accent when we speak English. So what? Deal with it. If England, the birthplace of the language can have over a dozen accents and dialects then surely, we are forgiven a few. Also, asking a pure Malayali to speak in Hindi for your own pleasure? NO. NO.
Idli, Sambhar. Idli, Sambhar. Illa, Illa, Illa!!
What did the Malayali have for breakfast?
He had your guts for breakfast after he shoved a chakka (jackfruit) down your throat as a punishment for your ridiculous jokes.
Illa, we Malayalis don’t always have Idli and Sambhar for breakfast or lunch or dinner. Heck, most Malayalis I know don’t even like Idli Sambhar. Kerala’s cuisine is much more than that.
It’s the land of Parottas and chicken stew and Malabar prawns and rasam and Idiyappams and Puttu and Vatteppam and payasam and Beef (yes, Beef. Deal with it), among other things. Our cuisine, like most of India’s, is diverse and sumptuous.
Not every Malayali or South Indian food for that matter has to do with Idlis and Sambhar. Sure, once in a while but, it’s not really something I would want Malayalis to be associated with for too long.
Finally, as long as food is the issue, don’t ever go about asking a Malayali whether we recognize what kind of fish you have. Sure, we have a lot of fish in our water (it’s the coast, after all) but, there’s no way we recognize each and every kind. Maybe ask a Bengali the next time.
A few random notes,
1. Yes, we love our alcohol but, most of us aren’t walking drunkards. We are great drinking buddies though with a firm internal system to boot. Screw the jokes, why don’t people recognize how great we are with alcohol in our system.
2. For all the people who still confuse Malayalis and Madrasis, here’s a big F.U.
I don’t mind jokes and humor. Love them, actually. Even those on Malayalis. But, can we please have some good ones not lazily copied from a WhatsApp forward? Effort, that’s what we appreciate. Whether it’s with respect to job, sport or even a good joke aimed at us.
Image Sources: Google Images