Everyone knows Nancy, who writes at Reflections. Mom of two, exuberant and perpetually young at heart, all her loyal followers knows the names and hobbies of her beautiful daughters like their own. For example she could write about a simple power cut in her home so interestingly, that by the end of it you’d realize that power cuts are actually fun. She turns around any situation into a party. Each and every post of hers has left me smiling and feeling better. After some persuasion, I got her to write a guest post on my blog. Yay! She was busier than a bee all these days due to personal reasons, which I hope she will put it up on her blog soon, but she remembered my request . Thank You Nancy !
I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did… !
The Gelf Malayalee!
In the 1970’s & 80’s a tiny state in South India witnessed a mass migration of its people to the gulf countries. The discovery of oil and shortage of man-power in the gulf was like a prayer answered for many young men faced with bleak job prospects in their home country.
Every man took whatever job he got, worked hard and sent home almost all the money he earned to pay up debts, to educate and to marry his siblings off into good families. After a decade or so the family woke up to the fact that he was also unmarried and scurried around to find him a suitable girl. They got him married to a nurse/pharmacist/physiotherapist[select any one] and sent both back to the desert. Both husband and wife worked day/night shifts, scrimped & saved to educate their children + send money to their folks back home, all the while aware that they were better off than many of their countrymen.
The way the post is moving you can be forgiven for thinking I’m kind of glorifying the Gulf Malayalees’[GM] achievements. Seriously I’m not. Oh all right maybe a little. But my post is not about their trials and tribulations in foreign land….it is about a few traits all the Malayalees living in the Gulf share whether they like to admit it or not;-).
#So jumping right in, let’s start with food…..the Gulf Malayalee’s eating habits did not undergo any major transformation because he was living in the Middle East[ME]. Rice and the usual curries were made in his kitchen as traditionally as it was made in his tharavad[family home]. His only weakness was Kentucky Fried Chicken. He never, ever got fed up of it. He ordered it for birthdays, anniversaries, when guests dropped in, for farewell parties, in fact he is even known to carry KFC home when he went on annual leave. The next time you travel in a plane from UAE/Qatar/ Kuwait/ Bahrain/Saudi to Kerala and happen to smell KFC, remember you heard it from me first;-).
# As soon as the GM got his residence visa stamped, his first priority was to get a driving license. His first car was a sturdy, practical model because at that point owning a car itself was a huge achievement. But as time passed he unconsciously nursed a secret desire in his heart. In his eyes the ultimate status symbol was a Mercedes, which of course was way beyond his means. So he did the next best thing. He bought a second-hand Mercedes and proudly drove it around till the end of his stay in the ME. Not much has changed even today…..his children who are all grown up now have a thing for 4 wheel drives mainly Prado & Range rovers.
# Another dream the GM worked hard to achieve was his ‘own’ house back in his home country. He lived frugally and saved hard to make this dream come true. No matter what his job in the ME, the house he built for himself came under the category of mansions. It would have a huge hall, 3-4 bedrooms with ‘attached’ bathrooms & 2 or 3 kitchens depending on his means. Not to forget all the light fittings, plumbing material and sofa/bedroom sets he carefully cargoes in from the Gulf. Now for the saddest part…..this house would remain unused for the better part of the GM’s life. By the time he decides to go back to live there for good, his children would have settled down elsewhere leaving him & wife to use just 1 bedroom & kitchen with the rest of the house shut off to avoid further wear and tear.
Other regular quirks associated with GMs’…
# At any given point he’ll boast about the number of visas he has taken for others and how they prospered because….only because he took their visa and made their life.
#The GM’s luggage when he went home for vacation was sure to contain among other things huge tins of Nido, Tang, Galaxy Chocolates, Reynolds pens, Fa Soap, Nivea cream, Yardley Powder, Axe Oil and countless bottles of Tiger Balm to distribute among relatives, friends, neighbors, the church priest, the village doctor, the midwife who helped bring him into the world…..the list is endless.
# Unless he was a professional, nobody back home knew what exactly he worked in the Gulf as…..he could be an office boy, carpenter or a delivery boy slaving day & night for his Arab boss but when he went home on annual leave he wore a gold chain thick as a rope around his neck, a gold bracelet adorned his wrist and heavy rings on his fingers that everybody assumed he had a great job in the gulf.
# Before the Gulf Malayalee goes back to his home country for good, he makes sure by fair means or foul his children too are well-settled in the same place he made his life. It’s another story that the children are eyeing US, Canada and even India[something GM parents simply cannot comprehend] to settle down…
Like I said, that’s another story.
Does anybody want to agree/add value/defend the subject of the post???
Anybody who knows a Gulf Kashmiri/Gujarati/Bengali/Tamilian can also give their take:-).
[This Gelf Malayalee claims to be no expert on the subject and writes[tongue-in-cheek] based solely on personal experiences & hearsay.]