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.
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!