First things first—not all South Indians are ‘madrasisʼ. Shocking as it might be, turns out the South of the freakinʼ Indian subcontinent isnʼt made up of one kind of people.
Also, no such thing as ‘madrasisʼ. There is a place called Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, formerly known as Madras. People tracing their roots back to this part of the south are called Tamilians. Got it? Good.
And then there are Kerala, Hyderabad (and now Telangana State), Karnataka, all states of South India. (Plus, the Union Territories, but no one cares about those except when theyʼre planning vacations. Love you PondiLakshwadeepAndamanAndNicobar!)
Now that weʼve cleared that up, letʼs jump right in. (Also, disclaimer that stereotypes are just for funsies, donʼt be one waste fellow and get offended.)
It is rumoured that Malayalis have a secret radar that helps them seek other Malayalis out. And once they find that other mallu, theyʼre unstoppable.
The mode of communication will instantly switch to Malayalam, which will then instantly attract anything between 10-50 other Malayalis.
Theyʼre proud of their people.
Youʼll be hard pressed to find a group of people who show up in huge numbers to support their statesmen like the Malayalis do—just go to any Thaikkudum Bridge concert and youʼll know what weʼre talking about.
Of course, when a state is called ‘Godʼs Own Countryʼ (rightly so), you know that its people are going to be the proud kind. Plus, their sex ratio tips in favour of women (1058 females for every 1000 males), which is automatically a win. And as important as the ratio, they also have beef fry.
You wonʼt find a group of people who consume more rum in one sitting (maybe the fact that they have to source it from tiny liquor stores where everyone from their uncle to their uncleʼs wifeʼs auntʼs husband will be standing in line, has something to do with it). You also probably wonʼt find people who can talk about local politics, film, and philosophy more heatedly, and suddenly break into mallu songs and hug each other in the same breath.
The only other thing that theyʼre this nostalgic about is growing up in the Middle East. Appams and Milo forever!
Random words to shout around Mallus to make them happy:
Cheta, Chechi, Old Monk, Appam, Kuwait, Dubai, Avial.
Nothing makes Kannadigas happier than people attempting to learn Kannada.
Truly, it doesnʼt matter how bad you are, or how much youʼre butchering the language as you attempt to learn—just the fact that youʼre trying will have everyone from your Kannadiga friendʼs parents to the auto driver who took you to their house, glowing at you and praising your attempt. Of course, the effect is exactly the opposite for anyone who refers to the language as ‘Kannadʼ. We donʼt even recommend you try it.
Youʼll find the people of this state planning extensive road-trips.
For history and cultural vibes you have Hampi (also for organic vibes).
For nature and wildlife, thereʼs Kabini and Bandipur.
To live out your hippie fantasies, thereʼs Gokarna.
For still more beaches, slamming seafood, and Pabbaʼs, thereʼs Mangalore. (Fun fact:
Mangaloreans have a moral duty to mention Pabbaʼs every time the topic of ice creams comes up. Try it and see.)
For the pandi curry, the sprawling estates, and all the good things that come with hill stations, thereʼs Coorg. (But do we really need any more reasons than pandi curry?)
For a perfect example of city planning and crying over what Bangalore could have been, thereʼs Mysore. (Also an excuse to eat at Shivaji Military Hotel.)
And of course Bangalore, to go drinking at brewpubs (cough) and complain about how long it took you to get there.
These days youʼll find Bangaloreans aggressively defending the weather. ("it might not be the same as when I was a kid, but itʼs still better than other states ok?")
Theyʼll also be the first ones to make a drinking plan, the ones who have trouble choosing between the only three activities you can do in Bangalore—watch a movie, watch a music show, go bowling, the ones still not used to the fact that pubs are now open beyond 11_30pm, and the ones who somehow always end up at Empire or Imperial for dinner after.
Random words to shout around Kannadigas to make them happy:
Bob, Magga, OC, Pecos, traffic illa, meter.
Their ultimate, forever-bragging rights rest in the fact that the ultimate Superstar Rajni, a veritable god of the 70mm and beyond, calls Chennai home. All discussions and debates should ideally end there.
But weʼll continue for the sake of jolly, and Mango Dolly.
All Tamilians are born with the innate ability to gauge the exact fluffiness of idlis, and the perfect ratio of milk to decoction in filter coffee. Some gifted fellows can tell by just looking, no need to taste and all. And theyʼll never waste a chance to turn their cultured noses up at your feeble attempts at matching Madras Filter Coffee standards.
(Rumour has it that rigorous training by their paatis from an early age is the cause for this.)
Take a Tamilian out of Tamil Nadu, sure. But you canʼt take the...well, you know how it goes. Precisely why no matter where they are, (Chennai, Delhi, or Silicon Valley), theyʼll somehow manage to watch every Rajni movie first day-first show, have no conflict in openly supporting Chennai Super Kings regardless of the fact that they havenʼt lived in Tamil Nadu since before the IPL began, and try to convince you how Dhoni is actually Tamilian, no matter that heʼs really from Ranchi. (But really, heʼs Tamilian, ok?!)
When they get a little tired of finding ways to source some solid alcohol, because it is a bit of a task there, they usually just jump into a car and drive to the ‘Luru for some good quality beer. (And weʼre happy to have them.)
Random words to shout around Tamilians to make them happy:
Rajni, Superstar Rajni, Thalaivar, Baba, Padayappa, Kanchipuram saree.
Andhra Pradesh/ Telangana State
If youʼre unsure about whether someone is from Hyderabad or not, the easiest way to find out is by listening—at some point during the conversation theyʼll brag about how the biryani they had at some place was rubbish compared to the biryani back home. And in that instant, you will know. (That, or just look for the ladissss glittering from head to toe in opulent sarees and even more extraordinary jewellery at weddings.)
But biryani isnʼt the only thing they talk about. The peeps of AP and T love their food, and this pride is not misplaced—there is a whole bunch of fantastic food on offer here, and only a fool
would restrict it to biryani.
By all means, come for the biryani, stay for the double-ka-meetha.
The other thing they love talking about is how the weather is now as pleasant as (if not more) than Bangalore. A miracle of nature that seems to take place only when theyʼre there, and never when someone from Bangalore visits.
They also wax eloquent about their superior infrastructure, but youʼve got to give them that—the roads are a treat for any driving enthusiast. Probably also why youʼll suddenly be shocked by some fancy sports car zipping past you. Theyʼll surprise you with the ease with which they can start a sentence in English, switch to Telugu, and somehow end it with Hyderabadi Hindi.
Itʼs a linguistic marvel. And possessed only by the people of this state.
Random words to shout around AP & T peeps to make them happy:
Haleem, biryani, “weather is better than Bangalore, ra", potta, potti.
Although if you ask us, and we admit we might be a tad bit biased, the best way to truly and easily gauge the sheer diversity of the southern part of the subcontinent is by sampling the cuisine.
Thatʼs why the menu at The Permit Room is curated as an attempt to represent South-Indiaʼs diverse, centuries-old culinary heritage, with a bit of a quirky, eclectic twist which pays homage to the now pop-culture status that all things from the subcontinent now enjoy.
The only proper way of doing this is by really actually getting into the details of the seemingly endless dishes.
After all, itʼs the evolution, history, geography, and quirks of a culture, all served on n a platter.
Images courtesy: 123rf.com, shutter stock.com, fototalia.com