When my wife and I made plans to shift to Chennai from Delhi and when she later moved to Tiruchirappalli, our friend K S Narayanan said, "Go lady, and imbibe true culture!" After spending seven years in Chennai and Tiruchirappalli we found that statement quite meaningful.
Have you heard the word Pandi mentioned while someone is referring to a Tamil? Then the one who said it must be a Malayali. And the tone would have been bordering on ridicule. Once, I too was part of the Malayali crowd mouthing that. Today I am wiser, having experienced the Tamil culture. The Tamils give you respect that you won't get in any other part of the country.
Even when we know the fact that Malayalam language evolved from Tamil or manipravalam, which was a mix of Malayalam and Tamil, why do we make fun of a people who have claim to one of the oldest civilisation in the Indian sub continent? The word Pandi must be a short form of Pandyan, one of the oldest Kingdoms in the country. The Pandyas of Southern India are believed to have been founded around five to six centuries before the Christian Era
While the Tamil language evolved in the third century BC, Sangam literature is dated from the 300 BCE – 300 CE, Malayalam had its origins in the ninth and tenth Centuries with remarkable development in philosophy, literature, education and the fine arts.
While the people of Kerala are losing their culture to other dominant ones, our neighbours have been able to preserve their culture, language and way of life. Go to Tanjore right in the middle of Tamil Nadu. It is the repository of rich culture that is quite Dravidian. The Big temple or Brihadeshwara temple is the right icon of true Dravidian culture. And the Srirangam temple of true Bhramanical order.
On the other hand, Malayalis are aping the westerners unabashedly. And the people of the state shares some of the psychological disorders of the Swedish or the Americans.
While I am not one for clinging to old ways of life, should we be so unabashedly materialistic?
Today, the great career for the Mallu is that of code cruncher. He/she is a churning out software to run the utilities and what not of Western nations. And, if you are not an IT professional earning in dollars, you haven't arrived. You dig?