Does my public display name seem very unusual? nonsensical? After raking through my grey cells for a nice name for my WordPress website, I thought, why not create a name which will represent my identity or in other words explains who I am? And so the name Malelhi (Malayali + Delhite).
So the first blog is going to be kind of my introduction and the topic is my struggle to figure out my identity while growing up in the capital city in a traditional yet not conservative Malayali family by which I mean we went to Church without fail on every Sunday and received sex education at home. In case you don’t know who is a Malayali and wondering what the heck is she talking about then let me tell you, Malayali is the term used for the natives of the South Indian state – Kerala ( yes, there are South Indian states other than the much popularised and stereotyped city of Chennai portrayed by Bollywood).
My parents came to Delhi because of their jobs, fell in love and got married and a year later, had me and this is where the story of my bi-cultural or dual culture upbringing begins and also my identity crisis. My mother tongue is Malayalam but the preferred language is Hindi since that is the language spoken by the majority in Delhi and the language I have grown up in. I prefer to abuse either in Hindi or English. Any given day, I will choose Kadhai Paneer (cottage cheese and one of the famous North Indian dishes) over the good ol’ ‘sadya’ (literally means ‘feast’). I rarely watched Malayalam movies, clueless about the Malayali actors and singers except few superstars and before you make another stereotypical comment – the list does not include Rajnikanth since I do not like him (hate me if you want). I do not share a typical cousin bond which you can usually see in exaggerated comical videos with my extended family back in Kerala so now comes the million-dollar question (at least for me) – where do I belong?
In Delhi, I have been shoved into the stereotyped category of ‘madarasi’ a slang used for those who belong to the state erstwhile city of Madras now known as Chennai but unfortunately used as a term to address the entire South Indian population by the Northerners and back in Kerala, I felt distant and to some extent alienated since I cannot accept the restrictive Malayali culture (before you bash me, let me clarify that I am not talking about uber-chic cities such as Kochi or Thiruvananthapuram). I was confused and reluctant to accept the Malayali DNA present in my body and the language which I can read, write and speak but not very comfortable to talk in.
So let’s cut the long story short, it took me time to accept the Malayali side of me and now if you ask me to introduce myself, I will say, “I am a Malayali, raised in Delhi!”. So the DNA is that of a Malayali but the heart is that of a Delhite.
Let me know if you ever faced the dual cultural background crisis or your thoughts on the article or any positive criticism.
If you like what you saw, then check out my wanderings (TRAVEL) and ponderings. Oh! I forgot to give my name – Its ISHA POLSON (yeah, with the wrong spelling )
“I speak three languages,write and dream in one”
- My own version of the verse by Kamala Das