Happy Onam to all the wonderful people of Kerala. This post is kind of a personal love note to Kerala. I am writing this just out of sheer pleasure and love.
It’s wonderful to be a daughter-in-law of Kerala. In my mother-in-law’s house, I am not expected to do any household work. Whenever I visit my mom-in-law, I get to eat delicious food without cooking.
My mom-in-law is the best thing about my marriage. We share a very loving and open relationship. We occasionally argue and bang phones too. But you see, everything is fair in love and fights. I shall now refer her as Senior Mrs Menon (SMM)
With every passing day. my love for Kerala food goes deeper and deeper. Now, my smartphone has my MIL’s recipes of Erissery, Thoran, Inji Puli, Kadala curry and the like neatly typed on the ‘Note’ app.
One of the reasons behind me agreeing to marry my husband is his surname. I have always loved the surname ‘Menon’. My twitter handle is @menondeepika though for all official purpose, I have retained my maiden name. But I love the sound of Deepika Menon.
When I first visited Kerala as a brand-new bride, my husband’s aunt asked me, “Deepika, chor indaka?” And I got damn excited thinking that how exciting to have a Chor/Thief (in Hindi chor means thief) in the house in broad day light. Well, even as I was imagining to put up a brave fight against the visiting thief, I found out that chor in Malayalam means rice. And my aunt-in-law was just checking whether I will have rice or not.
My soul sister is also a Menon woman and she lives in Dubai. Last year, both of us along with my soul-brother went to Kerala on a holiday. I was in tears when I boarded the flight to return to Ahmedabad (where I live and work). That trip to God’s Own Country felt magical. I really miss those moments.
I feel my father instantly agreed to my marriage plans because he thought Malayalis are very intelligent people. (Husband will be happy to read this)
On a good day, I can finish off 10 parippu vadas at one go (Kerala’s famous snack). They are absolutely my favourites, I talked about parippu vadas so lovingly that Hussain (the man who was our navigator during our Kerala visit) offered to buy them for me.
I am a great sucker for Mallu sense of humour. During my first visit to Kerala, one of those cool aunts (with not so butter-tongue) told my husband that she’s very relieved to know that he doesn’t have a brother-in-law. She thought a wife’s brother generally has lots of nuisance value and little else to offer.
As a journalist, it feels great to be in Kerala because you see lots of people reading newspapers sitting in their verandah, garden or at roadside tea stalls.
My mom-in-law aka senior Mrs Menon during her growing up years in Kerala had a pet dog whose name was ‘Chundaran’ (such a lovely name to have). I asked mummy about Chundaran’s diet and was in shock when I came to know that he ate idli-chutney, upma and the like. He lived long and led a very happy life. My mom-in-law still gets teary eyed talking about her favourite Chundaran.
All through my years in Delhi, thanks to my curly hair, people thought I was from Kerala (stereotypes at its best). Well, destiny took all those questions seriously and made me a daughter-in-law of Kerala.
When we were living in Bengaluru, one day I ran down the stairs thinking that my husband was having a fight with the Malayali broker as I overheard them talking in Malayalam. Well, they were at their cordial best and having quite a polite conversation.
After listening to them, I stopped any effort to speak Malayalam. But, hey you can’t bitch about me in Malayalam in front of me. I understand the language well. But, now I seriously want to speak the language fluently. I hope to do it in this life —- My bucket list.
I now wear Kalumuthi’s (my husband’s grandmother) necklace. I feel privileged to carry a slice of history and family heritage with me though I never got the chance to meet her. I keep hearing stories about her life, her wonderful skills in whipping up delicious dishes and her pearls of wisdom.
My new love in life is karimeen fry. Aah, Kerala take me back to your embrace soon. I want my karimeen.