As opinionated and individualistic these two species may be - the Bengali and the Malayali - there are some things that we do have in common with each other. Don’t believe us? Just read on...
1. An obsession with fish
Salt water, sea water - we don’t discriminate on grounds of origin. And we love our prawns too. And crab. And...well, actually, that whole category of consumables called “sea food”. A meal without fish is like a meal we didn’t eat at all.
2. Communism, of course
We may not be Communists personally speaking, but we have at least one family member who is a card-carrying party member. If you’re convinced that your family doesn’t have one such, trust us, someone’s keeping secrets.
3. Actually, we find it very difficult to stay away from any form of politics
Let’s face it: we are very opinionated when it comes to politics anywhere. College, state, nationwide… Start a debate, and just watch us jump in. The better-trained ones of us just know how to hide it better. But we’re always politically aware, and proud of it!
4. We love rice
Biryani, pulao, plain rice, masala rice, ghee rice, fried rice - it is all very important. Yeah, we eat rotis too, but mostly on sufferance. Or when we’re bored of rice. Or feel carb-conscious.
5. And talking in our mother tongue(s)
Have you ever seen two Bengalis get together and NOT speak in Bengali? Or two Malayalis bumping into one another and NOT lapsing into Malayalam? No? Us neither.
6. Reading too...
It’s the national pastime. What? It isn’t? It should be! Newspapers, magazines, books, blogs, Twitter feeds - consuming any form of text is THE thing to do. All those people who say things like “I don’t really read” - there ain’t no Bong or Mallu among them for sure.
7. And eating with our hands
Another passion. Cutlery-less eating. There is no food eaten delicately off a spoon that tastes as good as even the remnants of gravy licked off our fingers. We have, on occasion, even been known to eat noodles without forks. (Chopsticks? Spawn of the devil!)
8. Oiling our hair is a habit ingrained from childhood
No, no. It’s not the gentle champi we’re talking about. We mean a good old-fashioned soak-your-head-in-a-tub-of-coconut-oil kind of oiling session. Meant to be done overnight. All good girls get their hair oiled. Every third day. We only break away from these greasy shackles once we leave our homes. (And some of us have even been known to leave our homes just to break away.)
9. As is the firm belief that we must write and speak “good English”
Get together a bunch of English-language journos, editors, writers. Now take a poll. We bet at least half of them will be either Bengali or Malayali.
10. Plus, the expectation of studiousness in general
Let’s not deny that at least some of us have suffered acute pangs of conscience while growing up for not being good at maths. And that the words “brilliant student” merited a high degree of appreciation and covetousness.
11. We also believe in alcohol in the afternoon
Or any other time of the day. Not for us these sundowners and “too early to have a drink” nonsense. :P