Thursday, November 22, 2007

being a 'karela kutty' -Part I

I'm told I've always been a handful as a kid.
The kind who send terror waves down their parents' spine at the thought of taking them out to any social gathering.
The kind whom I always frown at, as an adult.. like that pesky kid next door!
Bet they must be true, if all those audio recordings of my chattering as a 2 year old are anything to go by!

Papa still shudders whenever they show glimpses of the movie 'Chemmeen' on TV..he recollects very vividly the embarrassment at the movie hall when his 3 yr old wanted an explanation for 'why is that uncle beating that lady?' at the top of her voice! n he just had no other way out than getting the hell(err.. that would be ME) out of there!..
At the Museum park, I would just walk up to pluck a Nun's nose and announce that I'm going to throw it away to the crows!! (how I wish I could've done that to some similar specimens later, during my convent school life!)

But they say, more than anything else, my fave pastime was to entertain people, telling them the story of paavakka kuttan. Apparently, the hero of the story is this guy who was born out of a paavakka (bitter gourd/ karela). His unique ability was to point to anyone's (primarily, all the villains who try to poke fun at him about his unnatural birth) nose and say some mantra, n lo! the recipient turns to a bitter gourd!

little did i know that someday after a good couple of decades, I'd find myself at the receiving end of that joke! on an extremely cold December day, I find myself heading for Chandigarh.. reason? i took up a job with this company's office in Mohali..
you think that must've been a tough decision to make, considering the hopeless North-South culture divide we have in our country n all that? I'd say the decision wasn't any tough as compared to the kind of questions I got to wield from concerned well-wishers!
'You know chandigarh is infamous for it's high crime rates?' she didn't share her source of info with me though! I would've loved to quote it here!
'Are you sure you want to go to the Surd land?'
'My God, Usha, would you be taking the photocopy of a plain paper and faxing it to me with a stamp on it?'
'I've always believed there was something terribly wrong with you, but you cant be so crazy, can you?'
'Have you totally lost it?'

Over there, one of the toughest things I had to do was to educate people that "Karela" as they used to call that tiny stip of coastal land in the southern end of the map of India, is actually "kErAla"! After a zillion attempts, I realize that there's no point in convincing some people about the misplacement of 2 alphabets, who still use "then" in place of "than" and "accept" in place of "except". Talking about which reminds me of the incident when I overheard a female colleague shouting out to another male colleague to 'massage' her in the evening! after a moment, and a string of exclamations running through my mind, I realize she was referring to "message"(as in sms)!

Now that's about some Northies for whom the whole Southern peninsula is Madras..
pls. note: the earlier comment was not to poke fun by generalizing all Northies.. That was just about a small cross-section of people.. the rest of them were a very informed lot, you know.. most of them knew for sure that the most common mode of transport in Kerala was boats and that every family owned one..
during a post-lunch walk, my curious colleague from Bihar asks me: 'hey hey, tell me na, d'u guys really have boats n all in your house?'
me: 'yeah, actually we have 2 boats in the boat-shed outside our riverside house. One, we use it to go visit our neighbors and all.. and the other one, solely for fishing when we feel like having some fish fingers for snacks! cool, no?' grin.

--ok ok.. easy, my Northie friends, me no getting too biased on this one.. you know I luv you a lot to speak too low of you.. I'll be updating this space with the Southie's perception of Northies soon.. in another post.. Trust me, when I started writing this, I realised that it was overshooting the normally acceptable length of a post (you know me.. this happens to me always, my long mails are proof enough), and hence, had to mutilate it into parts!

And then there was this huge chunk of Southies (mostly AP guys) at my workplace there, who again had a li'l skewed perception about mallus... "oh you are a Malayalee?" they ask me..
"kutty??" n a biiig broad smile.. I guess, I can better classify it into a kind of evil grin..
for them, mallu girls are referred to as "kutty", just the way the Punjabi girls are called "kudi"s... now I take all the pain to educate them too that kutty doesn't exactly mean a girl.. but it doubles up as a non-gender-biased suffice to many mallu names.. not only that, it also cuts across all religions, castes and creeds.. we have moideenkutty, govindankutty and even georgekkutty...
"Lolakkutty too!!!" a wide grin.
"ofcourse yes! ah, now you are learning fast!" I grin back..
(more on mallu nomenclatures, later)

And thus I got pushed into donning this new identity.. that of a 'Karela Kutty'
No prizes for guessing who had the last laugh at that.. yes, of course, my Mummy-Papa whom I used to totally pakaofy with my Pavakkakkuttan story long back!
whoever said, 'what goes around, comes around'! :o


  1. haha so now u r a pavakkakutty .. :D ... the boat thing was a killer ....

  2. @dimple: danx, dups! :) as usual, ellaam vidhiyaa!

    @santosh: guess wot, even i'm waiting for that!

    @anjusha: thnx for stopping by to comment, pills! :) even i was surprised when that boat conversation actually happened! the last thing i could've expected was a query about the kind of fishing nets available. I would've had to recommend him some imaginary crash courses for fishing in Kochi! :P

  3. karela kutty.. - That definitely was funny!
    I think all of us country cousins have our share of stories - most ften than not, about oursel ves.

    For me it was "I'll have that cock please" - well, i swear that was made up, but the legacy lives on till this very day. :)

    Good read!

  4. hhey hilarious.. tht ws indeed funny... the boat epiDOSE... thot tht u r about to stop teasing the northies, where u actually were putting more of salt in the wound..:) nannayitundu karela lady..appreciated the flow of humour...

  5. @rejil: um glad u liked it.. n thnx for stopping by to comment!

    but hey, this wasnt actually meant to offend anyone.. only i've tried to present some conversations which had happened with a pinch of humor... now i wonder whether it seems more on the lines of sarcasm.. (i tried my level best to keep it neat, though!)

    but thanks to u, im reminded of the fact dat i need to come up with the part2 soon, before the post is misunderstood!