Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 'Gelf' Malayalee.

Everyone knows Nancy, who writes at Reflections. Mom of two, exuberant and perpetually young at heart, all her loyal followers knows the names and hobbies of her beautiful daughters like their own. For example she could write about a simple power cut in her home so interestingly, that by the end of it you’d realize that power cuts are actually fun. She turns around any situation into a party. Each and every post of hers has left me smiling and feeling better. After some persuasion, I got her to write a guest post on my blog. Yay! She was busier than a bee all these days due to personal reasons, which I hope she will put it up on her blog soon, but she remembered my request . Thank You Nancy !

 I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did… !


The Gelf Malayalee!


In the 1970’s & 80’s a tiny state in South India witnessed a mass migration of its people to the gulf countries. The discovery of oil and shortage of man-power in the gulf was like a prayer answered for  many young men faced with bleak job prospects in their home country.
Every man took whatever job he got, worked hard and sent home almost all the money he earned to pay up debts, to educate and to marry his siblings off into good families. After a decade or so the family woke up to the fact that he was also unmarried and scurried around to find him a suitable girl. They got him married to a nurse/pharmacist/physiotherapist[select any one] and sent both back to the desert. Both husband and wife worked day/night shifts, scrimped & saved to educate their children + send money to their folks back home, all the while aware that they were better off than many of their countrymen.

The way the post is moving you can be forgiven for thinking I’m kind of glorifying the Gulf Malayalees’[GM] achievements. Seriously I’m not. Oh all right maybe a little. But my post is not about their trials and tribulations in foreign land….it is about a few traits all the Malayalees living in the Gulf share whether they like to admit it or not;-).

#So jumping right in, let’s start with food…..the Gulf Malayalee’s eating habits did not undergo any major transformation because he was living in the Middle East[ME]. Rice and the usual curries were made in his kitchen as traditionally as it was made in his tharavad[family home]. His only weakness was Kentucky Fried Chicken. He never, ever got fed up of it. He ordered it for birthdays, anniversaries, when guests dropped in, for farewell parties, in fact he is even known to carry KFC home when he went on annual leave. The next time you travel in a plane from UAE/Qatar/ Kuwait/ Bahrain/Saudi to Kerala and happen to smell KFC, remember you heard it from me first;-).

# As soon as the GM got his residence visa stamped, his first priority was to get a driving license. His first car was a sturdy, practical model because at that point owning a car itself was a huge achievement.  But as time passed he unconsciously nursed a secret desire in his heart. In his eyes the ultimate status symbol was a Mercedes, which of course was way beyond his means. So he did the next best thing. He bought a second-hand Mercedes and proudly drove it around till the end of his stay in the ME. Not much has changed even today…..his children who are all grown up now have a thing for 4 wheel drives mainly Prado & Range rovers.

# Another dream the GM worked hard to achieve was his ‘own’ house back in his home country. He lived frugally and saved hard to make this dream come true. No matter what his job in the ME, the house he built for himself came under the category of mansions. It would have a huge hall, 3-4 bedrooms with ‘attached’ bathrooms & 2 or 3 kitchens depending on his means. Not to forget all the light fittings, plumbing material and sofa/bedroom sets he carefully cargoes in from the Gulf. Now for the saddest part…..this house would remain unused for the better part of the GM’s life. By the time he decides to go back to live there for good, his children would have settled down elsewhere leaving him & wife to use just 1 bedroom & kitchen with the rest of the house shut off to avoid further wear and tear.


#Another peculiar quirk of the GM…….he talks nostalgically of his hometown every chance he gets; how he climbed trees, bathed in rivers, walked 8 kms to school every day, how his home town was the best and how he yearned to go back. But that’s all he does….he just talks. When it comes right down to it he delays his going back using every excuse he can find. Simply put, he is afraid to give up this comfortable life and start all over again. But he’ll never, ever admit this, not even to himself.
Other regular quirks associated with GMs’…

# At any given point he’ll boast about the number of visas he has taken for others and how they prospered because….only because he took their visa and made their life.
#The GM’s luggage when he went home for vacation was sure to contain among other things huge tins of Nido, Tang, Galaxy Chocolates, Reynolds pens, Fa Soap, Nivea cream, Yardley Powder, Axe Oil and countless bottles of Tiger Balm to distribute among relatives, friends, neighbors, the church priest, the village doctor, the midwife who helped bring him into the world…..the list is endless.

# Unless he was a professional, nobody back home knew what exactly he worked in the Gulf as…..he could be an office boy, carpenter or a delivery boy slaving day & night for his Arab boss but when he went home on annual leave he wore a gold chain thick as a rope around his neck, a gold bracelet adorned his wrist and heavy rings on his fingers that everybody assumed he had a great job in the gulf.


# Before the Gulf Malayalee goes back to his home country for good, he makes sure by fair means or foul his children too are well-settled in the same place he made his life. It’s another story that the children are eyeing US, Canada and even India[something GM parents simply cannot comprehend] to settle down…

Like I said, that’s another story.

Does anybody want to agree/add value/defend the subject of the post???

Anybody who knows a Gulf Kashmiri/Gujarati/Bengali/Tamilian can also give their take:-).

[This Gelf Malayalee claims to be no expert on the subject and writes[tongue-in-cheek] based solely on personal experiences & hearsay.]


26 comments:

  1. hahahahah this made me miss the fake perfumes and soaps and Tshirts I used to get when my Gelf Ungle used to visit us once in 2 years.
    How aptly you brought out all the traits!!
    Great guest post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Red handed, I'm sure you are thethi-thariking ur gelf ungle....that perfume had to be original. Gulf countries show zero tolerance for fakes. Ungle wd have never taken the risk. Which brings me to another point, we gelf malayalees keep a respectful distance from the police/law;-).

      Thank U for reading and commenting:-)).

      Delete
  2. Hahaha... the gelf Indians willll never stop flaunting themselves just like i will never get tired of reading your posts. Hilarioussss! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If u have it, u flaunt it is the motto of a GM;-P.

      Thanks Ashish for reading and commenting:-)).

      Delete
  3. I can see a disrespect to all GMs in the above post. Please respect the hardship and sufferings GMs are having there.. People on those days are forced to go out of there so called small beautiful state to feed their siblings and parents..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarath, I'm so happy to see a comment siding with the hard-working GM. U r absolutely right, many families have survived because one of their members went to the Gulf and improved the lives and life-style of the rest of them.
      But I'm puzzled why you have referred to Kerala as a "so called beautiful state"??? Kerala is a beautiful state, period:-)).

      Delete
  4. In Tamil movies, some good comedy scenes are centered around gulf-returnees. Vadivelu, especially, has essayed that role to perfection. Have a look at the comedy scenes from a movie called 'vetri kodi kattu' from Youtube, if any of you can understand Tamil :)

    Destination Infinity

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe even we have these kind of scenes in the malayalam movies and we laugh so much watching them.

      Will check out the movie you are talking about DI....with Vadivelu doing the role I'm sure it must be a scream:-D.

      Delete
  5. Yes, yes, and yes to alll!! I know loads of Gulf Malayalees But the one I talk to the most is my cabbie. He has so many stories of bathing in the river and climbing trees!
    I would want to talk about the Gulf NRI and what a pampered lot we are here. How the Arabs have spoilt us and we just can't go back home now... something that we talk about alll the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So agree with you Nisha....the environment is so safe and protected with everything at our finger-tips, I keep thinking that I'm not equipped to deal with the real world anymore;-(.

      Thank U for reading and commenting Nisha:-)).

      Delete
  6. Hahaha I know atleast, wait for it, a million Gelf ungles. Someone once told me that malayalees are split into two kinds. The Gelf ones and then the 'Nerse' kind.

    Lovely guest post, I'm gonna check out Nancy's other posts now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know abt the nerse lot but always keep in touch with gelf relatives, they'll make sure you are never out of deo's or body lotions;-P.

      Thank you for reading and commenting Soumya

      Delete
  7. Brilliant analysis!! In Mangalore, the gulf uncles marry a girl and leave her behind to look after the family. Over time, the girls have started living with their own parents while the husband visits in a year or two and spends lavishly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was the same in Kerala too. Earlier men left their wives behind because they didnt have 'family status' but now the situation is different I think, most men get family visa and take their wives back with them.

      Thanks for reading and commenting Maithili:-)).

      Delete
  8. Loved the analysis Nancy. And, hopefully you're back with this guest post. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Uma, so nice to see you after a long time:-)).
      All credit goes to Anita for this effort of mine and I'm hoping too*fingers crossed*;-P

      Delete
  9. Oh Nancy, first of all a big thanks for Anita's persuasion to get you to post here. Its a pleasure to read your posts and this one is no different. I just reminsced the memories of my Gelf ungles and andies :-) :-) how true!!

    BTW, missed you in blogsphere and you better start blogging again. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm beginning to wonder what kind of memories my nieces have of me;-D

      I missed all of you too Vincy:-)).

      Delete
  10. good to read a post from u nance. you make it fun regardless of the subject. the first para tells me you can be a serious writer too if you want to be. once you are out of your relocation? mode hope to see more of you not just in blogs but newspaper, journals, magazines..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dear Lan, you've always been good for my ego;-). Thank U:-)).

      Delete
  11. Does anyone want to agree? I agree whole heartedly. I have seen it all/experienced it all. (I am not a GM) That "leaving him and his wife to use one kitchen of the Manson" is so true (and so sad) The only thing that has changed of late is getting things from there, as the same things at the same rate is available here in India. I say it would have been more beneficial if they could use the money for the development of the state (than building those mansions)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get what u mean Haddock, initially we too planned to take everything from here but whatever amt we were saving on the items was levelled out with duty/customs/cargo charges. Then there are also the risks we must consider while sending a cargo. If u are wondering, we did send cargo but minus the electrical appliances....what's the use of being a GM without sending atleast 1 or 2 cargoes in our lifetime;-P.

      Delete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nancy Chechi , you got and covered everything well :)

    you could have added the pic of that Mamookayas GM also :D

    Like "Arabi saw a beautifully designed wedding card in his breif case and thought he is a well educated guy :D " ...dont remember the movie name though :)

    ReplyDelete