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Yenna Rascalla: South India for non- 'Madrasi' dummies

By Mrigank Warrier

Yes, you who revel in South Indian stereotypes. You who believe that we ‘Madrasis’ actually say ‘Yenna Rascalla’ out loud.

Read, and learn.

1. Geography: ‘South’ is a direction; Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are states. Hubli is in Karnataka, Hooghly in Paschimbanga. Tirupati, Tirunelveli and Thiruvananthapuram are not baaju baaju mein. And Sri Lanka is more than a paddle-boat ride away.

2. Languages: ‘Andu-Gundu-Naaru-Gundu’ may have profound meaning in modern Haryanvi, but is gibberish in Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil and Tulu. ‘South Indian’ is not a language – Tamilians will comprehend Telugu the day Mamtadidi spouts Gujarati. It kills me when you blurt out ‘Illay Illay Po’, and howl, as though what translates to ‘No No Go’ is somehow tremendously funny.

A film like Chennai Express perpetuates meaningless stereotypes.

A film like Chennai Express perpetuates meaningless stereotypes.

3. Pronunciations: Do not attempt to sing the Malayalam lines from ‘Jiya Jale’. Notice how even Lata Mangeshkar didn’t? Touch the tip of your tongue to your epiglottis, and maybe you can pronounce Kozhikode correctly. Dossa is a dreaded don, Saambhar, a species of deer – neither is meant to be eaten.

4. Names: We have house-names (Pilavullakandi), street-names (Thekkeparambil) and first names (Usha), to make us easily traceable (I suppose). The suffixes ‘-an’, ‘-swamy’ and ‘kutty’ are not meant for indiscriminate attachment. Some of us do have names that do not run into the next line. Yes, we have the Balamuralikrishnas. But we also have the Raos.

5. People: who speak Kannada are called Kannadigas, not Kanadians. Yes, we’re pretty good at English. No, we aren’t all nerds. We’re conservative. We’re liberal too. Figure it out.

6. Appearance: Living closer to the Equator doesn’t scorch our skin; we too can boast of Vanity Fair. Chidambaram is an oddity – many of us have been known to venture out in pants. Our women have better things to do than ravage flower buds and oil bottles first thing every morning. Lola Kutty, I hate you.

7. Professions: All Shettys do not run Udupi joints. Every Shiny, Molly and Mary does not a nurse make. Despite the exodus to the Gulf, there are still Malayalis left in Kerala. We’re nuts about engineering, just like the bhadralok are ga-ga over journalism. Vijay Mallya makes beer. A certain Raja makes money.

8. Religion: ex-President Kalam was born in Rameswaram. Cochin Jews date back to 70 AD. Shravanabelagola is a Jain pilgrimage destination. Thomas the Apostle introduced Christianity to the Malabar Coast. And I do not wander with a zebra-crossing pasted across my forehead.

9. Food: Idlis are strictly breakfast items. Forgive the Bongs for their mustard oil and us for coconut (oil and other products). Dining off banana leaves is quaintly enjoyable. We may be messy eaters, but that’s because we love our rasam-rice. Don’t you?

10. Arts: Rajni:Kollywood::Salman:Bollywood – entertaining, not enlightening cinema. Heard of Adoor Gopalakrishnan? Don’t beat Carnatic music till you’ve tried it – play MS Subbulakshmi at dawn. And if you describe Kathakali as that ‘mask-wallah dance’ one more time, I will Chammak Challo your arse to oblivion, okay?

Mind it.

Mrigank Warrier is a reluctant South Indian, erratic blogger and final-year medical student living in Mumbai. This post was originally published on his personal blog.