You can make anything by writing – CS Lewis
Far away from God’s own Country many Malayalees are making Delhi their second home. “Most Keralites came at around 1942 working in the supplies service of the army and today the numbers has reached around ten lakhs. There are 23 area committees in the city and around the NCR, to take care of the needs of our people. We can easily adapt anywhere that’s why you will find us in every part of the world. I am a Delhite not Keralite just with a little culture difference,” candidly says C Chandharan president of Delhi Malayalee Association which was established in 1949. Also are the other groups like Kerala Development Society, Gayathri Delhi, Kerala Muslim Welfare Association, Janasamskriti, Gurgaon Malayalee Association, and Delhi Malayalam Pentecostal Churches. They are mainly settled in the areas like Sreenivaspuri, Rohini, Ashram, Janakpuri, Uttam Nagar, Mayur Vihar, Kalkaji, Seema Puri and Mukherjee Nagar.
NT Anandan who is secretary of Gayathari Delhi says, “Back home we are very relaxed that’s why one will see all the manual labors are done by the outsiders. Adding to that many families have their members working in Middle East earning good money. But no doubt, the moment we are out from Kerala we work our hearts out.” Indeed they are everywhere especially government office. So much that there is a joke doing round in the capital, if you throw a stone into the Central Secretariat it will hit either a dog or a mallu. Let’s start the count, Shashi Tharoor minister of Human Resource Development who was among the candidates for the post of Secretary-General which Ban Ki-Moon holds now. “I am proud about our pluralism, our history of openness and co-existence, our creativity, literacy and our willingness to go anywhere and do anything to succeed,” says the Tweeter friendly minister.
Playing a vital role is AK Antony the current Defence Minister who started his political career as youngest president of Kerala Students Union. And there is Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, KG Balakrishnan present chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India and Chief Justice of India, National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, and Principal Adviser to the Prime Minister TKA Nair and GK Pillai the former Home Secretary of India. Some more names worth mentioning are KN Jayaraj, Nazeer Zeenalayam, Jaccob Pathuppally, and PS Prasannakumar.
Talking about the malayalee and the capital then we can’t just ignore the contribution of E. Sreedharan who is also called the Metro Man. He is not just the man behind world class Delhi Metro but also finished the job before time which is a rare thing in this country. Recently, did the community proud was Haritha V Kumar the topper of Civil Services Examination 2012. She is working with Indian Revenue Services in Faridabad. “I have been living in this city for more than forty years now. The best part about Delhi is that it presents a very creative and stimulating atmosphere for people like me,” says M Mukundan, who has written several novels and literary pieces, including the award-winning On the Banks of Mayyazhi.
Ambika Pillai a well known name in the field of hair and beauty. “I am proud to be a mallu babe. It is idiappam for breakfast for me. If I love Delhi for the business opportunities it presents, I love Kerala when it comes to holidaying,” says the beautician. After making Kerala proud in the world of modeling, Joey Matthews is trying out her luck with newly opened restaurant Kerala Express in Nehru Place. “When I first came to Delhi in 1996, there were these tiny places serving Mallu food, and I have realized that there is still a market for it. So here I am! Being a mallu, at the end of the day the dish that makes me happy is rice and fish curry.” There are many food joints around and doing well. Like The Spice Route at The Imperial Janpath, Kerala Hotel near INA Metro station, Kerala Food Channel in Kalkaji, Coconut Hut in Dilshad Garden, Kerala in Gurgaon, Kerala Restaurant and Kerala Café in Mayur Vihar, and Hotel Malabar in News Friend’s Colony. Their madness for coconut and curry leaves has not even spared Delhi!
(Published in Society Nov ’13, Page No. 116)