Sunday, March 16, 2008

lingua mallua

My Favourite movie ever (that is after Borat) is ‘Company’. Yes, I know it’s a surprising choice, but it genuinely is a good movie. (click here) Apart from being a well made Ram Gopal Varma movie, the reason it is so special to me is the presence of Mohanlal. Now, even though I have the classical mallu surname ‘Nair’, I can safely say my maternally dominated upbringing has not let much mallu influence seep into me.(FYI, my mom is a tam-bram) All the same, I have made enough trips to Kerala, watched enough Asianet and even drunk kallu (locally brewed toddy made from..What else. COCONUT!) to know my Mallu roots well enough.
Coming back to ‘Company’, the mallu drenched accent of Mohanlal made the movie watching experience even more entertaining. Try this – in the movie, the police under the Commissioner – Mohanlal, raid the goons’ hide out but they seem to have been tipped off and have flown off to Hongkong…..
Mohanlal to his sub ordinate : “Suna haim woh log Hong-gong gaya haim. Chalo unko pekadne mein to hemara plan flob ho gaya, lekin kam se kam ungo kundry ke bahar to bhech diya!”
(I have heard they have fled to Hong Kong. We may have flopped in our plans to catch them but at least we have made them leave the country.)
The above dialogue epitomizes the Mallu diction : The uniqueness of Malayalees is that they speak all languages in Malayalam.
By the way there are a few people who have taken this mallu accent thing far too seriously. Check this out.
Now even the non observant non south Indian can pick the regular ‘sero’ , ‘zimbly’ or ‘comblete’ but it takes a true mallu to notice the subtle nuances of Malayalish (Malayalam+English…well, it sounds better than Engalayalam!)
Speaking of Hong-gong (Hong Kong), apart from the regular Mus-kett and Thupai (Muscat & Dubai) , there are quite a few places/countries which have been rechristened by Mallus. As I have learnt from a few uncles and my father too,
Zimbabwe is now – Simbaagway
Switzerland is now- Syusserlent
Bangladesh is now – Bengeladesh
And for some odd reason, all – I mean ALL Mallus – even my cousins who are as old as me , are in a time capsule in 1972 and refuse to acknowledge the fact that Sri Lanka is no longer known as Ceylon (or See-lone).

Another Mallu quirk is the prounounciation of the ‘qu’ syllable. It is clear to me that getting this pronounciation right is impossible for anyone from Kerala.
All of us have heard the Saddam Hussein attacking Kuwait joke, so I wont go there again. But the other words have never ceased to amaze me.
Exquisite – es-kyus-sit
Quickly – kyuk-lee
Quintal – kyun-del
All ex students from SVJC (Swami Vivekanand Junior College) will agree with me that back in college, we had an overdose of Malayalee professors in college – from Babu Saar and Unnithan in Maths to The Sir John in Biology, Mr. George who taught in the commerce (‘com-airs’ for Mallus!) , Rama and finally Mrs. George for Chemistry!
And one particular memory of Mrs. George was her pronounciation of the Avogadro’s number. I would always look forward to the way she would reel off the Avogadro’s number ….6.023 x 1023
Here it comes…...”Six poind sero two three…..into….tendrupaar tondy three”.
The part of ‘ten to the power of twenty three’ was kyuk-lee (quickly) compressed into what we heard as ‘tendrupaar tondy three’. Mindblowing!

No south Indian can ever not hear the name of the suburb ‘Sion’ being pronounced as ‘Sa-yawn’ at home. And I still snicker and giggle when I hear my granny say “mu-lend” for ‘Mulund’. (Im still pervertedly smiling as I am typing this part!)

Sigh….if only I was a true bred mallu who had not been corrupted by the silly ways of English schooling in Mumbai.