Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mallu Whispers

Ever played Chinese Whispers? Well, we Mallu’s play it all the time. With equally interesting results! Of course the ‘Mallu Whispers’ are strictly confined to the family and the whispered message is usually some scandal that a family member gets embroiled in, wittingly or unwittingly.

Take the case of TJ. A middle aged respectable gentleman. The poor man was on his way to Yeswanthpur market on his Kinetic Honda when he hit a middle aged vegetable vendor. She kicked up quite a fuss gathering a huge crowd. TJ had to part with a sizable amount of cash to stop her screeching obscenities to ten generations of our ancestors. A perfectly innocent incident but for the fact that it was observed by a relative from a distance. And it became a scandal.

Now a scandal is something a Mallu family like us, fears more than the plague, famine and pestilence.

‘The Scandal’ in my family comes in three categories:

Class I:

Somebody (in the large extended family or lef) elopes with somebody
Somebody (lef) leaves priesthood / convent
Somebody (lef) leaves the faith
Somebody (lef) marries outside the faith
Somebody (lef) has an extra marital affair etc.

Class II:

Somebody (lef) is disinherited
Somebody (lef) kills somebody
Somebody (lef) is a teetotaler
Somebody (lef) was caught in a scam etc.

Class III:

Somebody’s (lef) fly was open at church, marriage or other public spaces
Somebody (lef) made eyes at the neighbor’s daughter / son / wife / husband
Somebody (lef) rooster mistook the neighbours duck to be a er...hen!!
Somebody (lef) voted for the communists….. and other trivial matters

TJ's case was also scandal material though of Class III category. It reached Kerala in two weeks time. This happens with most Class III scandals. Class I scandals travel via STD only and Class II via email or word of mouth through sudden visits to relative’s homes in the guise of looking them up. Class III scandals travels at leisure without much hurry to reach its destinations. I shall not describe the arterial roads and towns or aerial routes to keep the narrative short.

The TJ scandal took the NH 7 and NH 17 (most of the time) to reach Kerala. From Bangalore it went to Hosur ( a wedding) then to Dharmapuri ( the brides wedding reception) and then to Salem ( relatives to the brides reception went to visit relatives in Salem ). After a days rest it took off again to Coimbatore (an uncle’s death and another potential Class I and II Scandal as he had willed his chicken farm to his daughter because his son had married a Jacobite). I shall not describe the journey of this scandal, due to lack of time.

At Coimbatore the TJ scandal took a break as relatives stayed back to help / console / gossip with the bereaved family. From Coimbatore the scandal resumed its journey resting in between stops and finally it reached my home town and spread like wild fire. From thereon exhausted and tired and worn it went by email to Europe and the US and the English did embellish the facts a little bit (just a wee lil bit mind you!). And when news was delivered abroad, it went something like this.

• TJ was carrying a young and nubile vegetable vendor on his bike
• His bike skidded and he and the luscious vegetable vendor ended up in a heap on the road.
• As he and the curvaceous vegetable vendor picked themselves up from the road the villainous husband of the sexy vegetable vendor arrived on the scene.
• The enraged husband of the gorgeous vegetable vendor then thrashed TJ.
• TJ had to part with a lot of cash to assuage the wounded pride of the ravishing vegetable vendor’s husband.
·TJ still meets the hot vegetable vendor


DD said...

Makes sense...even if you have no clue about a person and you know sthg scandalous abt him/her, you say it to others just for the heck of it (if u r a born mallu)...and looking at the freq with whch mallus booze (within and outside our literate state) and the no. of womens' clubs in Kerala, such 'stories' get arnd verry fast with extra masala added for ample effect!

Matter of Choice said...


this blog contains so many lessons for me!!

Out of the 13 items, 4 are religion-related (assuming communism is hated atleast partly for being faithless!). sounds like u have a burshaw family!!

and "killing somebody" is class II???. The entire classification seems to pay little heed to the ten commandments.

well, thankx for being jobless today. i was able to devote my "analytical" abilities to this blog :)


ps: whats this (lef)??

Unknown said...

Pillow whispers (Thalayana Manthram)...falls in critical category. The culmination of all grapewine.

The phenomenon was captured on silver screen by Srinivasan in the movie "thalayanamathram"). Some good movies that capture whisper moments are "gandhinagar II street", and many movies which has Sukumari in the role of the neighbour aunty.

Unknown said...

Grapewine data Interchange [GDI] standards followed in Kerala:

1. House wives share data across compund walls
2. Data from House1 is captured by an agent(servant, maid) and transfered to House 2. Multiple agents will take care of the remaining arrays.
3. Husbands act as Passive data marts
4. Many Data Interchanges start with the question "What is cooking in your house?" meant in "other houses"

scorpigle said...

A nice blog to get out of my monday blues... the digs at mallus never seem to end :)

Jiby said...

ooh u have spelled out some really bad mallu habits for the world to read but i think its all changing with our generation, though wht u wrote definitely shames our elders. coz we were away from our relatives, the gossipping wuz largely a one-way street and wud make their way thru std's and visits to tvm and very rarely the other way round. when we used to complain how less we got to see our relations, my mom wud say atleast she has peace of mind that way!

Jake said...

'shames our elders' ? eh wot ??

what shame ? it was just a write up about gossip.

humour, no?

everybody gossips man. even our generation really. dont tell anyone. its a secret.

Lost in trance... said...

whatever happened to the nubile veg vendor female? nobody worried abt her? =)

Adarsh A. Varghese said...

Simply superb! But is all this confined only to the mallus? I guess its more of the great Indian Gossiping Phenonemena.

chupru said...

psst.. , you know whaaaat there is lot more to this story. I was at the market when the incident took place, and you know whaaaat, After they fell........

It is in our blood. Like it or not every one of us enjoy the gup-shups, atleast faintly.
I DO I DO undeniably, I DO.

Praveen said...

Wow, great article as usual. I second you on the way you have classified the scandals. It does happen especially with mallu's dosent it? :)

zimblymallu said...

is that tj for thomas joseph? thomas john? thampi jose? thenga joshua? thankappan jinkalaka?
aiyo. this is what the story sounds like now?
lol. let me clarify...
for the record, my initials are tv and i didnt do it. no matter who saw me with the nubile streetcart seller.
at least, now we know we're all related somehow. dhoora bandham... although, for pentecostals, its a class 2 offense if you're caught with a 'small'.

Sujith said...

lol.. now its better that TJ settle in Zambia for the rest of his life. :)

N David said...

Truly mallu.. Three cheers to malluness!!

manuscrypts said...

...must be true...hehe :)

crossblade said...

I cant stop thinking of all possible combination of names for TJ..Thomas or Thankappan
poor guy had one hell of a time..I guess...
mallus shud teach the effects on Grapevine in big MNCs

crossblade said...

I cant stop thinking of all possible combination of names for TJ..Thomas or Thankappan
poor guy had one hell of a time..I guess...
mallus shud teach the effects on Grapevine in big MNCs

Pradeep Nair said...

You couldn't have got it more right!

-Poison- said...

it seems v keralites r fond of gossip, to the extreme.

nibujohn said...

but isn't it true that we love gossips? that is, if it is not about us. me personally thinks it is these nitty bitty things that make life beautiful.

and don't misunderstand me, i am not talking about gossips that do serious harm. but the ones that linger around, giving a good laugh to all of us, won't be that bad, na?

Matter of Choice said...

i luv gossips.... even though ppl say that "truth is stranger than fiction", fiction is definitely much more exciting :)

silverine said...

@dd:It's the mallu snowball effect I guess. Thanks for dropping by my blog.
@matterofchoice:Well the classification varies from family to family :)
@MADAN: That' neatly analysed. ;)
@Scorpigle: Thanks , we as a community know how to laugh at ourselves.
@Jiby: True with the advent of the color TV the Kerala gossip mills have become less productive.
@Jake, Adarsh Poison, Manu and Anoop:It's true that the younger generation also loves its brand of gossip.We mallus have more talented in this 'creative pursuit' though!If it is not malicious it is enjoyable.
@lostintrance: You didnt get it? The nubile gal was never the focus of this story. It was TJ much to his discomfiture :))
@Praveen, KD and Pradeep: Thanks!
@manuscrypt: It is true!
@zimblymallu:Your denial is on the www!:))
@injinuity: So they teach the effects of word of mouth data exchange in B Schools too? Interesting!!!
@ravishingnymph:lol welcome to the club.
@jithu and crossblades:Poor TJ. It could be you one day. So watch out!lol

hope and love said...

nice post silverine..
but we all gossip dont we..?!
benign gossiping.. one of the easiest way of bonding with a female friend..
men too gossip..
its so relaxing ..and one of the simple pleasures of life..
only when it becomes spiteful and malignant it becomes dirty..
i loved the way you have described it..
i blog under a psuedonym
the names and circumstances have been changed..
im only sharing few thoughts that crossed my mind hopefuly to make people think ..
txs for ur concern.. so swt of you.

flaashgordon said...

Sorry I'm late silverine,

Was real hilarious..hav fwded to some cousins of mine ... esp i liked the part where someone being a teetotaller is a big scandal. I'd love ur family...(any vacancies?)

However i dont think its specifically a mallu tradition to gossip. EVERYONE does it! Many POTENTIAL Ad agency visualizers in other professions; get their chance at creativity in such occasions. Its a healthy exercise like jogging; those dormant creativity specific gray cells get their opportunity in such situations. So tis needs to be encouraged !!

Cheers to TJ uncle

Visit me at


(soon to be a best seller and then a blockbuster movie. Read for free while it is free)

Sindhuja Parthasarathy said...

Forget the message,forget the "mallu" thing,the one thing that i liked is the subtle humor.......the not-so obvious attempt@making one smile,good narrative :)

Unknown said...

You are so hard to follow! I bet it's a maze inside your mind but you're probably freaking brilliant!

Kraz Arkin said...

Hail the mallu mafia.

Sreekesh Menon said...

If I laugh anymore I would be in tears. good post and i enjoyed reading this.

asliarun said...

That has to be the funniest post i've read in a long long time. heh

rk said...

Somebody’s (lef) fly was open at church, marriage or other public spaces
-athu kalakki.....

kochuthresiamma p .j said...

ha ha ha! terrific piece.
by the way what isn't a scandal in the mallu community?

Usha Pisharody said...

Lol! Very well said, though! You got it all captured perfectly!

M@mm@ Mi@ said...

nice post..what u said is true.by the tinme the gossip makes a few rounds,everything is changed..but,tell me d truth mallu girl...dont u enjoy a hot gossip almost everytime..? ;)I do...I always wait for some 'news'from my home.it goes like dis:hello,amme...enna undu vishesham?amma:ohh.enna vishesham..(hubby)okke enna parayunnu?"the hidden question here is "hubby avide undo..or else,I have some 'news' for u.if the hubby is present the call ends in 5 mins asking abt the baby,job and hubbys job..or else"u know what...appurathe biju..." the call lasts for almost half an hour..am happy knowing the wearabouts of my childhood friend.. ;)