Monday, December 19, 2005


Bride is all ours now to torment. *wringing hands with glee* We’ll take her home and make her cook at 5 am in the morning in kerosene stove and grab all that gold and stove it away in our lockers. Then my mom will ask her to sweep and swab the house and I will ride my Kinetic on the floors and she will have to start all over again. Of course, all this while she will have to be in her saree. *hehehe* Note to self: Buy kerosene stove and hide servant maid.

My lovely thoughts were interrupted by my brother’s panic attack, “Guess what, I will have to go to the Mallu people’s family home in the village and spend the first night there!!! They being matriarchal and all. Could you and Pi stay with me and see to it that they treat me well?”

‘What?! Do you have to get pregnant too?’


‘What about dowry? Shall I bring my check book just in case they push you in a kerosene stove?’ I was worried.

My dad obviously wasn’t concerned about my brother’s safety. All he could brood about was his family name getting wiped out completely. Any assurance that my brother wasn’t going change his maiden name didn’t seem to comfort him.

Pi was kicking himself for not marrying a Mallu. ‘I could have been inheriting property from both sides! And all that gold too.’

Pi and I stayed over with the brother’s Mallu in-laws in a pretty village called Mannapara. Rolling rice fields, huge ancestral house, lovely temple, great food (couldn’t recognize any of it), sweetest people, great hospitality… time went by quickly and gaps were bridged as if they didn’t even exist.

My mom talking in Tamil with a Mallu accent thinking they understood, was amusing. The weird part was they did understand.

Ammuma (the solid granny who controls everyone and everything in that house..every Mallu family has an Ammuma who is equally strong) wanted to know why I don’t have kids yet.

Bride’s mom asked me if I light the lamps for God everyday. I said ‘No’. Audible gasp from the audience, but she was quick to add,’ But you have a good heart. You did the Katrina relief thing and all. That is great.’

‘Easy for you to say, aunty. You are not my mom or mom-in-law.’

‘You are just like my daughter and I will bug you to light lamps everyday.’
Yikes! This bridging gap thing was uncalled for, seriously!

Pi was treated like God had himself descended in Mannapara. ‘I leve benana jibs.’

And lo, one fella was dispatched in a jiffy and there was 6 kgs of banana chips for him to nibble through the afternoon.

‘Pi cheta, there are a dozen more packets in your room for you to take home.’

‘Wow, Scooty!’ Pi crooned looking a normal Scooty which has become a novelty to us NRIs. The Scooty was handed over to Pi to whiz around in the fields till his heart burst. He was thrilled.

So was I, as we entered the ancestral home. A 400 year old ettukattu tharavaad, complete with furniture of the yore. Ammuma’s cradle, a dresser with tilting mirrors and ornate carvings. Teakwood doors that were 10 inches thick. Dark wooden pillars that could probably fetch thousands. Ladles, brass vessels, lamps, grandpa chair… this house was very grandiose with its 40 rooms. I was glad I got to see something like this so intimately.
I loved this system where they protected and cared for their women. *sigh*

Wait till you come to our house, girly!


Zoheb said...

‘I leve benana jibs.’

AAARRGHHHH!!! Don't get me started on banana chips. Ask for ice cream, get banana chips. Ask someone to get sweets from Mallu land and they get banana chips. Say that you are hungry. Get banana chips. Say you are not hungry, still get banana chips. I don't know why they do those things to the bananas. Cruel people.

anantha said...

hmm... appadi ippadi nu.. Palakkada thottu aduthu.. oru kook gramam.... :)

shub said...

lol @ the last line! :D
super post alpha! and about tryin to talk tam with a mallu accent n trying to pass it off....been there done that when I was in kerala!

B o o said...

Whats with treating the Maapillai(son-in-law) like God everywhere we go? His house, our house, friends house, my sis's in-laws house, my sis's in-law's in-laws house,...! How come we dont get to be treated like that anywhere however down-to-earth(!) we are?

LOL at your mom talking Tam in Mallu accent! Moms have to do that to us. :)

Kris said...

Being an iyer bought up in kerala, and who speaks tamil with a mallu accent, i can very well relate to the situation...the series has been really engaging...gr8 work.

Pallavi said...

I am sure it must have been fun..i love visiting my ancestral home.. i tend to forget the fast paced world and just relax.. and congrats to your bro...

Rhyncus said...

A 40-room ettukattu tharavad??? I sure hope they are making money by renting it out to all them film crews!
And did you light the lamps for God today?

alpha said...

Zoheb: Bolna tha na, I will ship some right away. Didn't know your stomach grumbles at the mere mention of it.

anti: It was in Palakad district was the cookest gramam ever.

shubie: thanks machi, how be you?

boo: in a way its ok..that takes all the attention off us. Who the heck wants that many banana chips anyway?
*thats the way I console myself*

kris: thanks. Iyers in Mallu land have become too modern with naming their boys looks like.

pallavi: Would love to see pictures of that place.

Rhyncloo: I think they need that big a house to keep all the money they already have.
If the electric diya in my house counts, yes I switched it on.

fillerman said...

Mallu Nairs are (were, to be accurate) matrilineal...not matriachial.... How many times do I have to tell you that alpha? While the lineage and property flows through the mother's side and through women, the eldest male (karnavar) is the head of the household. Fortunately for me, this practice has mostly been abandoned. Otherwise, my sister will be in line to inherit ammuma's house and I would be watering the coconut trees.

alpha said...

Fillu boy, My brother was the one who wasn't aware of this big difference (according to my narration)I always understood your system. *I never admit to mistakes, how many times do I have to tell you that*

anantha said...

It was in Palakad district was the cookest gramam ever.
Ya, I actually know the place you are talking about. I, i.e my dad probably has some relatives in the area. He seems to have some relative in every small village in the Palakkad district, so much that you'd wonder if Palakkad district is wholely owned by the family. Sadly, it isn't :p

KJ said...




Anonymous said...

hey alpha welcome back... i am anon, but i read all ur posts and was wondering where u had gone off too... love the posts on the kerala experience... being a good tam brahm girl turned not-so-good by marrying a kerala christian, i went through a much worse fate...;) but got fed lots of banana chips in the end...

Anonymous said...

i like benana jibs... yummlicious... and thankfully, i have a mallu for a best friend who keeps me well supplied.
kungrats to your bhai.
lucky fella didnt haveta sit through the mad homams... uh?


Anonymous said...

i louve benana jibs too. and 40 rooms? woah. your bro's wedding posts makes fun read. keep them coming :)


Anonymous said...

how about pix of the house and the rice fields???


fillerman said...

Another question, since I have never seen an ettu-kettu from the inside. Do all 40 rooms open into the central courtyard? Were there 40 rooms per courtyard... or was it 20 per? Photos please...

alpha said...

kj: :) Thanks. Now you need to point out which one is you in the Dubai meet pics.

anon: Wow, your stories might be something we all shud blog?

toinksie: not soo soon..what all torture brother had to go thru... Any dumbass would take homams to this!

pomps: thanks. wait till you tell me to stop.

m: pictures at your request maam..sometime as soon as Pi parts with the laptop.

fillu: Don't ask me dude..didn't see the floor plans. From what I could gather, not al rooms face the courtyard..the courtyard itself was not as big as you would envision. It was probably a 24'X12' with some 8 pillars around it. So for some 40 rooms to look into the courtyard would be an engineering feat unless all the rooms were 2'X2'.
The house has been divided between two of the family members and hence the courtyard. So there are some ugly modern additions like the partition wall and blue grill in the front for safety.
In spite of all that, it's a very lovely place, quite well maintained. Most of the rooms are locked. We had the keys , so we walked in. You could get lost there. Could have looked like a million dollars if it was palmed off to some kerala tourism department, which is the irony of it all.

Amethyst said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amethyst said...

Charming narration

Thought only palaces had so many (40) rooms. Is your bro married to a royal family?

PS: Guess I deleted the earlier comment inadvertently.. Had to key it in all over again. Sigh... When am I ever going to be techno savvy?

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Lowely post! It's weird though how mom's slip in to the whole local lingo tho! My dad is from Palghat and my Mother switches from Tanjavur rowdy to Mallu Mami in no time. It's scary... also puts bressure on my sis and me to do this same.

alpha said...

amethyst: Thanks. royal family? not really..i belive the ancestor dude was a warrior of some sort. there is a tiny idol of him with a sword.

shufy: thanks.. I didnt feel any pressure from my mom..thankfully.

30in2005 said...

I have not stopped laughing for all the time it has taken me to read all your posts about your brothers wedding (had to take a break when the OJ I was partaking unattractively came through my nose!). U'r blog rocks!

I am a useless half mallu and my other halfs family refused a mallu wedding for all the same reasons: white munduveshti, no fire ceremony, only 3 circles instead of 7, blah blah blah! But oh what joy this sounds!

The only mallu thing my better half will eat is benana jibs though!

alpha said...

30in2005: thanks for dropping by..half mallu or full mallu that will produce half-mallu kids. We better get this straight before we move on.

30in2005 said...

Alpha, always a pleasure to drop by. I'm only half mallu so any future kids will only be quarter mallu....the product of national integration!

Ravi said...

Damn good post!
Here's an old mallu PJ you can unleash on them the nxt time you are there
Why did the mallu chicken cross the road?

Twilight Fairy said...

somehow I could never leve benana jibs..sigh..

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Rationale said...

Akka, this was great! You wont imagine how MUCH I had to stifle my laughs when I read this at work. Still havent showed it your bro though! :)

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