Thursday, March 16, 2006

KERALA - THE ENGLISH ABHORRERS !

Yesterday when I was coming back from town in a bus, along with two friends, we were discussing our favourite comedy movies. Since all three of us were most comfortable with English, we were using that as our medium of communication, as we always do.

When we were five minutes away from our destination, we heard someone grumble, "Have these kids landed from America?" in Malayalam. We chose to ignore him, as it was late night and he was probably drunk. He got off at the next stop and asked us if we knew Malayalam. We replied, in that language, that we did. He asked us why don't we talk in that language then. That needled us. We angrily told him that it was not him that we were talking to, and he should mind his own business. He gave us a huff and went off.

Then, after we were contemplating his level of inebriatedness, a gentleman who was sitting nearby said, ignore him... But you guys must realise there are certain 'protocol' to be observed while in a bus. I asked him what the eff he was talking about. He said, you know, all this talking in English and making a nuisance on the bus. If we didn't have to get down at the next stop, then all three of us would have ripped him apart. I blatantly told him to go soak his head when I got off the bus. No doubt the first guy was drunk, but when an ostensibly sober chap makes a comment like that, it is something I can't stand.

So that's the story, of three 'English-speaking' guys, ostracised by the rest of society in this part of the world for knowing and speaking a language which everyone else knows is important if we want to succeed in life. Atleast for now. And this is not the first time something like this has happened. I for one, was born and brought up in Bahrain, and have been with 'English-speaking' friends all my life. Circa September 2002, when I joined Engineering College, I was in a hostel where majority of the inmates were 'English-haters'. They looked down upon the language, and felt that anyone who spoke the language well, particularly NRIs, were all show-offs and what they call 'Yo' guys.

I in particular was subject to quite a bit of teasing and picking because of my (in all modesty) fluency in the language, by seniors who didn't speak it very well. I was not treated very kindly, and the fact that all NRIs are, in their view, spoilt brats, exacerbated the problem.

There was one chap in particular, who never failed to get on my nerves, and always teased us, whenever someone from my gang was around in my room and both of us spoke in Angrezi.

To all these people, I have two words. Due to cyber decorum, I am not publishing those two words here, but you get the idea, I'm sure.

This is why Kerala will NEVER ever develop in terms of opening their minds to other people. People are xenophobic. They can't accept the fact that some people know a vital language better than them. They know that it is absolutely essential for existence today, but they still will abhor it, and ostracize anyone who speaks it better than them. A fact that has irritated me no end : Keralites are among the most closed-minded people I have ever seen. And they wonder why people are scared to set up enterprises or BPOs in Kerala? Apart from the red tapism, this abhorring of English, looking down upon anyone who can speak it well - is the reason.

I once read an old story about politicians yelling 'Angrezi hatao' to earn political mileage, and quietly packing their kids off to private English-medium schools, as they know the language is absolutely vital to survive in this rat race.

Now, my personal message to everyone who looks down upon the Queen's language. I know I can freely express myself here, because the chances of one of you numbskulls coming onto the internet for anything else other than porn is as likely as Glenn McGrath breaking Brian Lara's record of 501*. The chances that any of you sh*theads know what Wikipedia or a blog is, are as remote as finding a rain forest in the Arctic circle. All of you idiots can insult us, tease us and call us names. But we will have the last laugh because we have the most important ammo in our arsenal to survive in today's world : communication skills. And yes, a large part of it is English, and how well you can speak it.

We (by we, i mean the English-speaking populace) are the first to grab jobs, to hold offices, and not shy away from work that involves communication. I particularly love the fact that I grabbed a job in my sixth semester, while those pathetic goons who called me names are still out there searching for something to click. And some of them probably have landed pathetic-paying jobs involving cleaning of vehicles, two years after their more vernacularly gifted classmates landed jobs from college itself.
I simply love that. It may be slightly sadistic of me, but I feel that they have got their just desserts.
Kerala's attitude is not very likely to change in the foreseeable future. People who abhor English, yes, the same people who make a beehive to English-speaking courses when they realise it is too late, still preponderate. This mindset is unlikely to change.

Till then, NRIs, NRKs and English-medium school passouts will remain a minority in Kerala, will continue to be ostracized and teased, and will continue to be successful. Somehow the last part of that statement makes up for the rest.

30 comments:

madhatter_withgloves said...

I have been to Kerala only on one occasion. Me being half a mallu warranted that trip I guess. I was five and my dad was proud to be taking me into the land of 100% literacy, he told me that when I was five! And..he added they all speak verry good English. Now in all fairness my father, and my grandfather before him both spoke English with a flair that I might feign manage at all. But a little girl idolises her dad and trusts his better judment about everything in life (I'm sure dad misses those days! :))
Well, I did go to Kerala for a fortnight and met my cousins, in thiruvananthpuram. (I hope that's the correct spelling)
They spoke English. Yes. Well? Not at all.
They called 'm' 'em' and 'n' 'en'..Mostly messed up the pronunciation for all the words with vowels and consonants.

That was my only brush with the natives of Kerala. I have yet to muster enuff courage to go there alone. Dad will you go with me???

Good post Chuck.

ChUcK said...

@ Madhatter : Thanks ;)

See the thing is, you have thosae encounters only with your cousins. I dare anyone to try the following exercise : get into a late night bus (which will, by default, be full of drunks) and speak in English. Comments will come. Some will be light and dismissive, others like the experience we had, some even worse.

Can't wait to get the hell out of this crappy state...

Rohit said...

good blog, da. Will keep checkin' on it.

ChUcK said...

@ Rohit : thanks, mate ;)

Shrutz said...

You know how it goes Chuckmeister

ChUcK said...

I indeed know how it goes, Shrutz... we fight a battle as a minority, but you can be as sure as hell it's not a silent one!

ChUcK

Gaurav said...

hi chucky,
awesome post man!! u certainly have a knack for writing, not to mention the nitty-gritty words u use! adding ur blog to my favourite bloggers!

p.s. btw, after reading ur blog, i was searching for light for a few secs... :)

sid said...

D go..u hit the nail on the head..the impression ppl in other states have bout kerala is one where ppl read the paper all day and sip tea and ppl making art movies..wheres the freakin developement..i have heard of ppl saying if they get posted in kerala its like going back in time to the middle ages..narrow mindedness thrives here like a disease..i mean what does it take for these nitwits to wake up n smell the roses???..

Gaurav said...

Well Chuck ur article is very intellectual... Kerala is a beautiful place, but I personally this is one of the two problems why Kerala isn't advancing. Unless we stop condemning English, how will we attract MNCs to do business and get more revenue. Will read other articles when i would have free time and comment!! :)

Take care

ChUcK said...

@ Gaurav : thanks for the comments, bro... there is no doubt in my mind... when the Kerala politicians tried to attract the investors a couple of years ago for the GIM, what were they thinking?!!! There is no way that this bloody place is going to progress unless this mindset is chucked out... and it's very sad... I only hope it develops... I hate to say such blasphemous things about my home state..!

And sorry about the color, if that was what you were alluding to ;)

ChUcK

ChUcK said...

@ SidMad : when I read that this stupid place is the 'most literate state' in India, I guffawed! I mean, what is the qualification to be 'literate'? Reading about politics and bickering about which of the two old cronies of Kerala politics will make it next?

No doubt about it : Kerala is living in antediluvian times... and the thing is, when people need a job, and realise that there is nothing they can do, they make a beeline to English coaching centers... It's pathetic, the attitude they have... on a similar note, if you try to play rock musci during a fest here... well, you can imagine the reaction.

neermathalam said...

but i think i used work block intentionally...in the orkut....

Keralites are hypocratic...
Keralites are arrogant...
Keralites are political..
Keralites are closeminded...

Are u not being extra cynical...
What do you mean by development...??
Double digit economic growth with 35 million unemployed...
And do u think ur communication skill is the cake..no buddy it is just the icing..
cake is the substance which u have inside your head..and that matters a lot when u grow up..(personal opinion...)

I m not advising you to refrain from talking in english but when you are in a french office situated in a french territory do u think u can speak english/malayalam over telephone...
U just cant...I m not justifying the drunkard..but when that guy dont know english and u three keep on chilling out in english it was too much for him to digest...try to accept it in that fashion...
And dont generalise things...
whether it is about NRKs.. or born and brought up keralites..

ChUcK said...

No, I don't say that development is like what you portrayed it to be, mate. But face it.. While lots of other cities in India are getting their fare share (Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi)... Kerala doesn't, and some people still wonder.

I'm not generalising anything. I'm talking about the attitude by-and-large.

I agree, communication skills are just the icing. And the cake is what lies within you. Well, the 'cake' of those people - Xenophobia, hatred, ostracism.
That's enough to drive anyone nuts.

And yes, you said it was too much for him to digest. What he couldn't digest was the fact that three people there knew the language well.

It's something like an Ambassador owner cribbing about the Lexus to a Lexus owner!

ChUcK

Anirudh said...

I feel sorry for you... The real good you gets humiliated bcos of external factors like the laguage you speak..It's sad. Is it just Kerala? English(and its speakers) is pretty much a lot persecuted everywhere, ain't they? From France to Japan, Kerala to Kashmir...they are a pretty much hated lot everwhere.

absessive said...

I came across this blog through a friend and in all earnest, i support, believe and has actually felt similarly. Till coming to do my UG here I didnt speak a lot of English, but a lot of pestering by people (seniors and batchmates: batchmates necessarily doesnt imply friends, have enough of the other kind too) in college has made thoses days seem distant. In fact just to avoid this whole commenting moth**f***ers many of us have curbed our English usage limiting it to very close friends. Practice makes perfect right? Using the Queen's language a lot lesser these days actually seems to have lowered my ability in handling it. Isnt the world truly going global; English being the global language? Yet in Kerala, especially in colleges we minority have been branded Yo's or freaks or some other kind of nicknames. No offense to these namecallers but I believe we all have that sixlettered word ready for you. Cant we do without all this namecalling and looking down on us minority. And to all those people who consider NRIs a total waste; better listen up. They actually have a far better chance in succeeding than the average person. And teachers take not, NRIs are human too. Just because they came from abroad doesnt make them anyless capable. Better make note of the basic fact that NRI deposits still make up the major chunk of Kerala's economy. Yes, you are getting that interets for you deposits 'cos of the gulf cash. No NRKs and Kerala would be much closer in economics to Bihar. So before falling to the group tendencies just take a minute and think "What's wrong in speaking English? Isnt that actually an advantage?" Just for the record; I consider my Malayalam impeccable too.

Anirudh said...

absessive:[No NRKs and Kerala would be much closer in economics to Bihar.]

eda...ur making an understatement there..there wouldn't be any economics at all...

but it isn't just NRKs who are subject to snide comments...anyone who talks in proper English is looked down upon.

ChUcK said...

@ Anirudh and Absessive :

My basic theory about why they can't stand us, is because they can't digest the damn fact that some people are better at a language than we are.

Think about it this way... there is a basic human tendency to dish whatever we can't have... a very small one.

Consider. You desperately wanted to get an iPod, but you can't. No matter what you try. So you try and console yourself by saying, ah well, it's got so-and-so defects.

Okay, that analogy may sound stooooooopid, but I hope you know what I'm trying to get at here.

@ Anirudh : I know what you mean, bro. I mean, we can silently take all the abuse and all the namecalling, but at the end, we can just stand up and say, "Hey, you namecalling ---------s, look. I have a job. You can continue abusing me if you want. Nyanyanyanya..."

I for one, would love to meet some of those seniors who abused me. Would be great to get back at them, seeing that some of them don't stand a chance to get a job anywhere.

Cal it sadistic ;)
But hey... I call it vengeance!!!

Anirudh said...

[Cal it sadistic ;)
But hey... I call it vengeance!!!]

You know what? The problem is that these guys aren't like evil or anything. It is a flaw they have. These guys mite actually be very nice fellows, but very jealous of ur English.

ChUcK said...

I know it was nasty of them to call them evil.
I have some pals, very nice people, who don't know English all that well and accept it. And these are the people who try hard to work on their language.
And I like an attitude like that. They're trying.

Suppose the tables were reversed, and Hindi were made the official language of communication (shudder) in the world, then I would be running to learn the language, wouldn't I? Hell, it's lukcy I was brought up in an atmosphere where I was allowed to groom Enlgish as a primary language.

But I reiterate what I said - it's only when they're openly abuse us or call us names, when I get angry...
I mean, they're not perfect themselves... the same assh*les who abuse us, they go around barfing in buses and making public passes at women from another state. Oh, that's as decent as talking in English, I see.

It's just because we're a minority, mate...

I really hope that Kerala wakes up from this SICK, SICK attitude.

ChUcK

Anirudh said...

[I mean, they're not perfect themselves... the same assh*les who abuse us, they go around barfing in buses and making public passes at women from another state.]

ahem...that is a universal phenomenon, not limited to these English haters. Don't u think? Let me make this clear, I do not like this English hating. But that is no reason to conider *all* of these guys as purely evil. :-)

ChUcK said...

@ Anirudh :

Universal phenomenon, yes... But I'm just trying to tell you that these Mallus act as if they're perfect. They're not. They consider speaking in English a nuisance to public, while barfing in buses after a wild night of inebriation is civil?!

And like I said in my previous replies, I don't consider all Mallus evil. It's just the prevalent mindset. I've got lots of nice friends who don't speak English well, and we get along just fine.

But it's a case of 99% of the population spoiling the reputation of the other 1%. Like the lawyer one-liner, isn't it?

Whatever happens mate, you can be sure that you and I will continue to communicate in this language, love it, and say "$%^& ^&*" to anyone who tells us to clam up, because they don't like it.

ChUcK

SM said...

your blog was very entertaining... I know the feeling.

Though it may not be off much consolation, just to tell you that, this 'anti-english' sentiment is ripe in your neighbouring state of TN too...

All those of us who are comfortable in 'any other language' than Tamil, go thru excatly what you went thru...

cool blog...
and btw, I found the link thru the FM community on Orkut

angry fix said...

i am not reacting to your main point of language and why English is overrated, underrated, loved, despised or whatever.
one point though: i have lived in 3 states now, and besides Mumbai, i always thought Kerala was most receptive of English. i mean, it has an economy that is partly dependent on tourism, you know.

in reaction to "Why Kerala will not develop".

what is 'development', in your opinion?
malls, bpos, cyberparks, glitzy advertising, macdonald's?
or is it equitable growth with an emphasis on human development indicators?

Kerala is highest in India on many human well being indicators .
Oomen Chandy wanted to turn Kerala into a Bangalore. For WHAT?!
malls, flyovers, and bpos, i suppose. (Please note that he lost pathetically. and i dont think it was only because of karunakaran and the infighting.)

yes Kerala has unemployment problems, and solutions must be found for that. but turning it into
a state with disparate growth is not the solution.

I quote development journalist P.Sainath, "there is no major indicator of human well being on which Kerala does not outrank Karnataka by miles. Life expectancy, literacy, infant mortality ratio, sex ratio or schooling. Or even nutrition, health, equity, and the ending of child labour." (Read the entire article here: http://www.hindu.com/2006/05/03/stories/2006050305061000.htm

PS: sorry, long comment again.

angry fix said...

afterthought:
if you harp so much on English getting you a job before these mallu speakers, aren't you reiterating their point of assumed linguistic superiority?

multi-culturalism brings with its its discontents. and language is power.
so their reaction is only to a feeling that they ve missed the bus.

again, i come back to my point of education being the key to empowerment. whatever the language.

ChUcK said...

Vivek, appreciate your posts.

Firstly, let me tell you I wrote that post immediately after reaching my hostel, after the incident. It was undiluited fury, and three years of being marked as an outsider that led to a spitfire post like that.

I'm sorry if it was a bit too harsh... and reading it now, even I feel that somethings were a little TOO harsh... especially the 'never develop' part.. But it was in such a moment of anger, I just wanted to let it all out.
Like a dormant volcano that wanted to just give out all it was holding back for a few centuries ;)

It's always good to get an alternate viewpoint... Something that has been missing on this comments page.

Vivek, I'd like to thank you for those posts, and showing me an alternative. Yeah, I did mean to say that Kerala was missing out on the 'IT Boom' thing, but I know even that has it's fallacies.

Maybe what I should have meant by 'development' is the mindset of these people. Kerala is definitely xenophobic, can you argue with that?

The day Mallus decide to be a little more friendly and liberal, not just with white-skinned phorenners (who they can literally take for a ride and charge outrageous fares) but also with us poor people who don't know Malayalam, and are trying to fit in.

Sorry about the development thing. If I gave the wrong idea, I'm sorry. But thanks so much for the pointers you gave me... It's really good to get an opposing viewpoint, like I said.

And dude, the fact that most of the comments on this page (okay, some!!!) stand by what I have to say or have faced similar ostracism, justifies the fact that some of us feel left out or prejudiced (is that the right word, now?) against.

Apart from that, this is a really nice place to live in and all that...

Thanks again, Vivek.. and keep posting.

ChUcK

ChUcK said...

Quoted by Vivek :

so their reaction is only to a feeling that they ve missed the bus.


My reply :

Exactly my point, boss.
I'm not anti-Malayalam. I lovethe language, even if I can't understand half of it. Mallu slapstick movies really get me ROTFLMAO.
The essence of a country like India is it's diversity... And I'm not saying regional languages should be sacrificed to make way for English (that would indeed be a tragedy), but only that these people have to accept that times are changing, and they have to adapt themselves to it. They can't go on living in their antediluvian world while other cities are reaping benefits.

Just my thoughts. Please counter when you get time.

And I love long posts. The longer, the better. 'Gassing' is a talent acquired over 4 years of Engineering college exams.

ChUcK

uioplk2 said...

i get your point chuck,but don't go so head-on on kerela.i come from west bengal,a land known for its bhadraloks,i.e. civilised educated people.but the fact is that it isn't much different there.people speaking english are ridiculed in the hostels over there as well.
->andy4u@pagalguy

sajini said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
craving to love life said...

dude,...blog's gud,....but it was a lil too strong on every mallu,...take ur frens circle,...sreelekha,jeslin,vishnu,me,...v have spent the whole life as mallus,...studied in kerela thruout,...but v don fit into the category u termed as keralites,...ur blog din do justice to ppl lik these....m views dude,...

lil kid said...

you couldn't be more right on this..i had the same experience as you described, multiple times...and to make a crappy situation even worse...my college was like 99% mal speaking ****tards...
nice blog dude....right on!!