Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fighting Stereotypes

Stereotypes are annoying. At least to me. Maybe, this is just a rant. Maybe not. Anyway, these are a few stereotypes I think some people associate me with.

Stereotype #1- Just because I'm from the south of India, doesn't automatically mean I'm from Chennai. Tsk tsk, basic geography! There are other cities around too, you know.

Stereotype #2- Just because I'm from Kerala doesn't mean I have an ungle in the Gelf. Oh wait, actually I do. Not just an ungle, my parents too. Why, indeed I myself studied there! The point is, not all of us speak with a so called Mallu accent, so please don't feign surprise and ask But how come you don't have an accent? (This drives me to my next point- even if we speak with an accent, the rest of the country doesn't really use Queen's English, right?)

Stereotype #3- Just because I am a girl from the south doesn't mean I have to be trained in Carnatic music or Bharatanatyam. It all boils down to interest and passion. As for me, ever since I can remember, I have been dreaming of the day I get my book published!

Stereotype #4- I studied commerce after the grade 10 board exams. Not because I wasn't 'intelligent enough' to do science, but simply because I wanted to. There's a difference, see? And, please, 'all hard working and intelligent students take up engineering or medicine'. Really? Which era are you in?!

Stereotype #5- 'Oh you're doing accounting. But that's so boring!' (Actually it's audit, not accounting- as if that's going to make a difference!) Anyway, that is simply someone's opinion, and even if it is boring (which it isn't, by the way) it's my choice. At the end of the day, I'm happy with the field I have chosen, and that's what matters the most.

Stereotype #6- This happens, especially when I go back to Kerala for the holidays. I try my best to speak fluent Malayalam, and my family knows it's quite difficult, since I have never stayed in Kerala, as a result of which my spoken Malayalam sounds like a version of Ranjini Haridas' on Idea Star Singer. (I try to convince myself that it's slightly better than that, but whoa, what a comparison would that be!) And then people say, 'Ayye, endhoru kashtam. Malayalam ariyilla le' , somehow classifying me amongst those jaada people who proudly proclaim that they speak 'only English and cannot understand the mother tongue', when I know that I have really, really tried to learn the language on my own. (I learnt the language, watching Thatha read his Mathrubhoomi paper, and tracing the names of films on Asianet, and like Shashi Tharoor, who wrote about learning the language in his India- From Midnight to the Millennium, I too gave up after reaching the kootaksharams.)

YES, I feel better already after ranting out against these stereotypes. I have encountered at least five to six different people questioning me on these lines at different stages in my life, so they're definitely not one-off encounters! The problem with stereotyping is that it refuses to acknowledge the person one really is. I am me. I have always been me. I would rather be me than someone else's version of me.

Post Script:
You don't know Ranjini Haridas or Idea Star Singer? OMG.
Ayye, endhoru kashtam. Malayalam ariyilla le translates roughly to 'What a shame! You don't know Malayalam right!
Jaada is a colloquial term that is used for a person who shows off. Something similar to the Tamil peter.
Kootakshrams are joint letters in the Malayalam script.

I just noticed, I have been asked why I don't have a 'mallu' accent when I speak English on one hand, and why I have a jaada English accent when I speak Malayalam on the other. What irony!

18 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Oh my! Yes, had forgotten. Everyone assumes we add in coconut to everything. Yes, we do- right from hair oil to cooking oil. But that doesn't mean we live and breathe coconut! hmph. http://divyathemostuseful.blogspot.in/2011/04/essential-mallu-food-guide-for-non.html
      This, from Spaceman Spiff, should explain :)

      Delete
  2. Welcome to the club, sistah. I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked why I don't have a Mallu accent while speaking English and Hindi. In fact, I have written a whole post ranting about it.

    And #4, I totally understand. When I decided to study English Lit inmy BA, one relative uncle who I was meeting for the first time in my life asked whether I took english because I couldn't clear the engineering entrance. :/ People just couldn't get the fact that I took English because I WANTED to, and not because I HAD to. Pfft.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I swear it's so irritating, spiff!
      Yes, #4 is almost always asked by someone you've met just like once in your whole life! So annoying- and they have the nerve to say things like, 'Oh your field is so easy. Our engineering is not like that!' Well if it was so easy, why didn't they take it up?!

      Delete
  3. Nice post Sruthi:) #2 very true: it's not only with an accent; I have come across people asking 'you from Kerala? But you don't look like a Mallu'!! (as if it's all my fault).
    #4 Typical stereotypical mentality of our people. Way to go!!!
    #6 Hats off to you!! you have learnt to read the language all by yourself making me feel guilty:(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. #2 Hahaa, amma, I guess people expect to see curly hair and kasavu saree all the time.
      #4 Hmm, it's sad to see that the stereotypical mentality still exists >.<
      #6 :D HA, beaten you there!

      Delete
  4. Nice post :) As a journalist in India I have often been told to look like one. It was not enough that I was getting new bylines everyday but I had to dress in long brown kurtas and carry a jhola bag. Just because I liked to dress well meant I was not serious about my career. So annoying stereotypes are everywhere!!!http://www.travelstoriesandmore.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Couldn't agree more, dhan chechi! I didn't know that one needed to look 'like a journalist' to be a good one. It's almost like saying all those who were spectacles are automatically considered more studious or hard working :/

      Delete
  5. Haha I know what you feel like! Though I am not a south Indian, being a punjabi, I know what it feels like when random people think just knowing the words "assi" and "tussi" and "dasso" are enough to prove that one knows Punjabi.
    AND I have another one. You tell people you're in the science stream and the first thing they ask you is.. "Oh! beta engineering karni hai?" It's ridiculous! Anyhoo, following you up :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ruhani, welcome to my blog! Very glad to see you here :)
      I can imagine how ridiculous it is- automatic assumption is that science means engineering or medicine. :/
      Hope to see you here often! :D

      Delete
  6. Nice post, Stereotypes can really be annoying. I've been subjected to a few such questions myself actually. Sad part is, almost everybody is a victim of stereotyping. It takes a really mature and open mind to see a person as an individual as opposed to part of a 'group' with pre-determined characteristics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you sumi! :) Yes indeed, it takes a lot of courage to challenge status quo and go against the tide. Sadly, people are often questioned for taking unconventional paths, rather than being encouraged for not following the same old expected route.

      Delete
  7. ha ha... I bet what irony... :)I think it happens with almost... people suddenly start using punjabi words with me... why! (you can guess why :))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello there, thanks for dropping by my blog! :) Hahaa, people always assume things. That's the problem with all this stereotyping!

      Delete
  8. We are all victims at some point or other... My son once said that a colleague asked him if he was a madraasi... and he said, I is a Kannadiga and the guy said, " Arrey...mere liye Mumbai se south rahne wale sub Madraasi hai!" And Karthik immediately said..." Are you a pakistani? Mere liye, Mumbai se oopar rehne wale sub Paakistaani hai!" A bit harsh... but it shut the other guy up...
    I am a victim of stereo typing... Want to know where and how?
    http://verboseviju.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/08/victim-of-stereo-typing.htm
    That's life... We accept the foibles of people and move ahead shaking our heads at such ignoramuses....

    ReplyDelete
  9. OOPS!... A typo... "...and he said he was a kannadiga..." I must have been really distracted..

    ReplyDelete

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fighting Stereotypes

Stereotypes are annoying. At least to me. Maybe, this is just a rant. Maybe not. Anyway, these are a few stereotypes I think some people associate me with.

Stereotype #1- Just because I'm from the south of India, doesn't automatically mean I'm from Chennai. Tsk tsk, basic geography! There are other cities around too, you know.

Stereotype #2- Just because I'm from Kerala doesn't mean I have an ungle in the Gelf. Oh wait, actually I do. Not just an ungle, my parents too. Why, indeed I myself studied there! The point is, not all of us speak with a so called Mallu accent, so please don't feign surprise and ask But how come you don't have an accent? (This drives me to my next point- even if we speak with an accent, the rest of the country doesn't really use Queen's English, right?)

Stereotype #3- Just because I am a girl from the south doesn't mean I have to be trained in Carnatic music or Bharatanatyam. It all boils down to interest and passion. As for me, ever since I can remember, I have been dreaming of the day I get my book published!

Stereotype #4- I studied commerce after the grade 10 board exams. Not because I wasn't 'intelligent enough' to do science, but simply because I wanted to. There's a difference, see? And, please, 'all hard working and intelligent students take up engineering or medicine'. Really? Which era are you in?!

Stereotype #5- 'Oh you're doing accounting. But that's so boring!' (Actually it's audit, not accounting- as if that's going to make a difference!) Anyway, that is simply someone's opinion, and even if it is boring (which it isn't, by the way) it's my choice. At the end of the day, I'm happy with the field I have chosen, and that's what matters the most.

Stereotype #6- This happens, especially when I go back to Kerala for the holidays. I try my best to speak fluent Malayalam, and my family knows it's quite difficult, since I have never stayed in Kerala, as a result of which my spoken Malayalam sounds like a version of Ranjini Haridas' on Idea Star Singer. (I try to convince myself that it's slightly better than that, but whoa, what a comparison would that be!) And then people say, 'Ayye, endhoru kashtam. Malayalam ariyilla le' , somehow classifying me amongst those jaada people who proudly proclaim that they speak 'only English and cannot understand the mother tongue', when I know that I have really, really tried to learn the language on my own. (I learnt the language, watching Thatha read his Mathrubhoomi paper, and tracing the names of films on Asianet, and like Shashi Tharoor, who wrote about learning the language in his India- From Midnight to the Millennium, I too gave up after reaching the kootaksharams.)

YES, I feel better already after ranting out against these stereotypes. I have encountered at least five to six different people questioning me on these lines at different stages in my life, so they're definitely not one-off encounters! The problem with stereotyping is that it refuses to acknowledge the person one really is. I am me. I have always been me. I would rather be me than someone else's version of me.

Post Script:
You don't know Ranjini Haridas or Idea Star Singer? OMG.
Ayye, endhoru kashtam. Malayalam ariyilla le translates roughly to 'What a shame! You don't know Malayalam right!
Jaada is a colloquial term that is used for a person who shows off. Something similar to the Tamil peter.
Kootakshrams are joint letters in the Malayalam script.

I just noticed, I have been asked why I don't have a 'mallu' accent when I speak English on one hand, and why I have a jaada English accent when I speak Malayalam on the other. What irony!

18 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Oh my! Yes, had forgotten. Everyone assumes we add in coconut to everything. Yes, we do- right from hair oil to cooking oil. But that doesn't mean we live and breathe coconut! hmph. http://divyathemostuseful.blogspot.in/2011/04/essential-mallu-food-guide-for-non.html
      This, from Spaceman Spiff, should explain :)

      Delete
  2. Welcome to the club, sistah. I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked why I don't have a Mallu accent while speaking English and Hindi. In fact, I have written a whole post ranting about it.

    And #4, I totally understand. When I decided to study English Lit inmy BA, one relative uncle who I was meeting for the first time in my life asked whether I took english because I couldn't clear the engineering entrance. :/ People just couldn't get the fact that I took English because I WANTED to, and not because I HAD to. Pfft.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I swear it's so irritating, spiff!
      Yes, #4 is almost always asked by someone you've met just like once in your whole life! So annoying- and they have the nerve to say things like, 'Oh your field is so easy. Our engineering is not like that!' Well if it was so easy, why didn't they take it up?!

      Delete
  3. Nice post Sruthi:) #2 very true: it's not only with an accent; I have come across people asking 'you from Kerala? But you don't look like a Mallu'!! (as if it's all my fault).
    #4 Typical stereotypical mentality of our people. Way to go!!!
    #6 Hats off to you!! you have learnt to read the language all by yourself making me feel guilty:(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. #2 Hahaa, amma, I guess people expect to see curly hair and kasavu saree all the time.
      #4 Hmm, it's sad to see that the stereotypical mentality still exists >.<
      #6 :D HA, beaten you there!

      Delete
  4. Nice post :) As a journalist in India I have often been told to look like one. It was not enough that I was getting new bylines everyday but I had to dress in long brown kurtas and carry a jhola bag. Just because I liked to dress well meant I was not serious about my career. So annoying stereotypes are everywhere!!!http://www.travelstoriesandmore.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Couldn't agree more, dhan chechi! I didn't know that one needed to look 'like a journalist' to be a good one. It's almost like saying all those who were spectacles are automatically considered more studious or hard working :/

      Delete
  5. Haha I know what you feel like! Though I am not a south Indian, being a punjabi, I know what it feels like when random people think just knowing the words "assi" and "tussi" and "dasso" are enough to prove that one knows Punjabi.
    AND I have another one. You tell people you're in the science stream and the first thing they ask you is.. "Oh! beta engineering karni hai?" It's ridiculous! Anyhoo, following you up :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ruhani, welcome to my blog! Very glad to see you here :)
      I can imagine how ridiculous it is- automatic assumption is that science means engineering or medicine. :/
      Hope to see you here often! :D

      Delete
  6. Nice post, Stereotypes can really be annoying. I've been subjected to a few such questions myself actually. Sad part is, almost everybody is a victim of stereotyping. It takes a really mature and open mind to see a person as an individual as opposed to part of a 'group' with pre-determined characteristics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you sumi! :) Yes indeed, it takes a lot of courage to challenge status quo and go against the tide. Sadly, people are often questioned for taking unconventional paths, rather than being encouraged for not following the same old expected route.

      Delete
  7. ha ha... I bet what irony... :)I think it happens with almost... people suddenly start using punjabi words with me... why! (you can guess why :))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello there, thanks for dropping by my blog! :) Hahaa, people always assume things. That's the problem with all this stereotyping!

      Delete
  8. We are all victims at some point or other... My son once said that a colleague asked him if he was a madraasi... and he said, I is a Kannadiga and the guy said, " Arrey...mere liye Mumbai se south rahne wale sub Madraasi hai!" And Karthik immediately said..." Are you a pakistani? Mere liye, Mumbai se oopar rehne wale sub Paakistaani hai!" A bit harsh... but it shut the other guy up...
    I am a victim of stereo typing... Want to know where and how?
    http://verboseviju.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/08/victim-of-stereo-typing.htm
    That's life... We accept the foibles of people and move ahead shaking our heads at such ignoramuses....

    ReplyDelete
  9. OOPS!... A typo... "...and he said he was a kannadiga..." I must have been really distracted..

    ReplyDelete