If you read this phrase with the same intonation borrowed from your malayali encounters,  welcome to the bandwagon of wannabe malayali lovers. I’ve always had this fascination for Malayalam, the language of God’s own country. As clichè as it gets,  my first malayalam movie “Bangalore Days” got me instantly trying to mouth little words in an attempt to learn the language. After a couple of movies and a slight crush on Nivin Pauly, I started to express my liking for the language primarily by changing my ringtone to a malayalam song. Even today, when a Spotify shuffle brings me to that song, it reminds me of the phase I was smitten by the language. In the following days,I resorted to speaking broken malayalam even without a slight show of embarrassment. My school tour was ninety percent of me and my friends trying to speak malayalam which was mostly tamil with hints of our target language. We spoke malayalam in Ooty and we were still proud of it!

“Evede pore?”, I’d ask. “Njan room ku povam”, my friend would reply. I can still see myself laughing at our antics and us choreographing to the songs of “Premam” which had just been released then. How I had sprained my leg and walked sideways for two days after attempting “Rockaankuthu” is a reminder of my not-so-great dancing skills. But anything for Nivin, right? 

When college brought me closer to malayalam, my younger self gave me a hi-fi. By then, I could understand malayalam – if spoken slowly (See, ‘I have conditions applied’ with whatever I do). I took great pride in it, mind you! Even before I knew, my playlist was filled with malayalam songs. Till today, every rain would not be justified without “Mizhiyil” on loop, sometimes tearing me up. “Payye Veeshum” would always make me reminisce the innocence of a first year student with happy dreams of college. 

 When I say parottayum-beefum is my go-to comfort food, please don’t take it lightly. Finding enough money to get one from my college canteen would make my dopamine levels go from zero to ten. From satisfying my 11:00 a.m hunger pangs to being my 7:00 p.m cravings, we’ve come a long way. I’m still on a quest to find the most authentic parotta-beef combo. As of now, it’s a kiosk in Nungambakkam which had my hands smelling of curry even the next morning. 

   Kattan Chaya , Kattan Kaapi and contentment go hand in hand for me. Multitude of times where I’ve felt that “this moment, right now, is enough” always had a kattan in the frame. The perfect recipe for kattan Kaapi, I was told, was to add jaggery instead of the white sugar and wait for it to dissolve and work the magic.After a series of trial and errors later, I can say I can brew a good cup of kattan.  I got to utter “Chetta, rendu kattan” in an rustic tea stall with the mountains of Anaikatti wondering why I was grinning with excitement. To be sipping the Kaapi on a nippy evening whilst watching the wilderness around, has to be on top of the “experiences you should have” list. 

Some authors have their hearts hidden in the words they write. My favourite pastime is unearthing the same. Coincidence wouldn’t be a right word if I say that some of my most prized authors are from Kerala. Arundhati Roy, while writing of Ayamenem, got me walking along the backwaters as the water lazily grazed my feet. I stood in the streets watching the rallies understanding what they were for. Sometimes, I would secretly engage in conversations with Rahel too. As I read the translations of a writer I adore, I secretly envy her for weaving music out of the languages. But in two seconds, I’d be thanking her under my breath, for the same.

Except for the one time I happened to be in the outskirts of the state, I’ve never been to Kerala. I haven’t tasted puttu kadala. My mouth still waters and waits for coffee and pazhampori. The backwaters have never grazed my feet. But everytime I see them in Aaromale, my eyes widen wishing to be there at that moment. 

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