It was only after I had spent five years doing my engineering in the deep south of India that I realized that, contrary to the perceptions in the north, all southies are not the same. They are very distinct from one another in fact.
The Tamils from Tamil Nadu are crafty, disciplined and street smart. If you are contending for a promotion along with your Tamil colleague, you will have to lure him into a dark alley and shoot him or else he’s sure to get the job, not you. Tamils are generally ebony black, blunt nosed and thick-lipped, except for the Iyengars who are unusually fair and sharp-nosed. Did the Viscount Canning’s troops have something to do with that? Hey, you mind yore own business, okay? A Viscount was too busy a man during those days of the British Raj to worry about what his horny men were up to.
The Goaltees, the folk from Andhra Pradesh, are quick tempered and rough mannered but mama mia, their cuisine is out of this world. Ever heard of Chicken-65, Andhra style, maiming hot and dry? Right now I could carefully plan and execute a murder for it, its that good. Have it with a plate of steaming hot basmati, churned butter(ghee) and purp podi(a powder, ingredients dubious). Wash all that down either with Hercules XXX-Rum(if you happen to be masculine in gender) or buttermilk(if you are a wimp).
And Andhra women? Gee, whatever I tell you about them will be woefully inadequate. Most of them have that thing which we recognize as ‘classic Indian beauty’. Exceptionally sensuous and pretty, they are well-endowed too. The only place where you’ll find original Kyushu Satsuma vases hanging from folks’ chests is Andhra Pradesh, no kidding.
Satsuma vases always come in pairs
Let’s move on, to Karnataka now. Fairer-skinned and good looking folk, these are a gentle and cultured people. Their openness has led to their capital, Bangalore, being the most multi-cultural of all Indian cities. Karnataka is probably the only South Indian province where one can get away with speaking in Hindi. They have great classical music I’m told, though my poison is Pink Floyd, let me tell ya.
Women from western Karnataka (Mangalore and Coorg) are exceptionally good looking with sculpted features and light eyes. (Vasco Da Gama once told me that he and his men dallied there longer than necessary). Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, considered to be among the world’s ten most beautiful women, is from this region. She had made even Vladimir Putin go all gooey. When I think of that poor bozo, Abhishek Bachchan, her hubby, I’m reminded of that Dr.Hook number, ‘when you’re in love with a beautiful woman….its f—in’ hard’ .
And now about the South Indian province that is definitely my favorite…Kerala whose folk are called Malayalees. Deep, deep south. Quick-witted, smart, highly creative and just plain brilliant, these guys are among the brainiest anywhere. They could be ruling India but for their unpredictability, impulsiveness and the rebellious streak within. Their cuisine is laced with coconuts and they even cook in coconut oil. Yuck! I’d give Malayalee food a pass if I were you.
But ask me what I like best about Kerala and its their attire. Men get away with a veshti, a thin cotton ankle-length wrap-around that they usually lift up till their knees. No underwear. They must be Quick-Draw McGraw fans. The lack of undergarments is a contagion. Women don’t wear bras either and they’re not trying to be cool, mind you. They’ve just never worn bras, period. And if you think the Andhra women with their Satsuma vases are big, the Malayalees have 10 kiloton plutonium devices, tabarnac!(that’s Quebecois French slang for ‘no kidding’).
Satsumas always come in pairs
Malayalee women have this thick, wiry, matted hair in short wavy curls and while they are not as good looking as the Kannadigas or the Goaltees, they are known to be wild and insatiable in bed. The smell of coconut hair oil can turn you on, trust me. Spend a night with a Malayalee woman and you’ll feel like a sugarcane stalk at the exit end of a sugar mill roll. I’ve felt it one or two times. You don’t just wake up the next morning, put on your t-shirt and say ‘have a nice day’ and walk out. You survive the experience and barely live to tell the story to your envious classmates, with knees that wobble and an immediate need for blood transfoozion.
Speaking of Malayalees, reminded me of Naughty Kutty, a classmate. Kutty is a really popular last name down there and generally means ‘small’. I haven’t checked but I’ll take their word for it, though why they have to advertise their size, I’ll never know. It’s like Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy. Hey, we don’t want ta know, okay?
Naughty Kutty, true to his ilk, was brilliant. In his First Year, he would often sit with Third or Fourth Year students and help them prepare for the terminals. He had this way of breaking down problems into their very basics.
But no matter how much raw intellect he actually possessed, he always managed to royally f–k up his exams. His method at arriving at the solution would of course be perfect but the last step would invariably have an error, the result of a mind racing ahead of the movement of his pen.
If you screwed up your test too, you landed up at Kutty’s room after the exam. You’d find solace there. Kutty as usual would be sitting there, morose, chain smoking Charminars, fiddling with the dial of his tiny radio. You’d walk in and break the ice…..
“Hey..” he’d respond. He’d slide his Charminar pack over to you. You’d inhale deeply.
“So? How was it?” you’d wouldn’t be able to contain yourself, you needed the fix, you needed a brilliant guy to tell you he messed up, the same as you did. You needed that to make you feel good. You looked outside in the corridor. There was a long queue of similarly parched guys, all waiting for their fix.
“I f–ked up the m—er ch-d β1 value.”
“What value did you get?”
“45.00” You lied. The correct answer was 91.67. Shaggy confirmed it. Shaggy Chettiyar was always getting everything right and he was a schmuck. You’d actually got the right answer yourself but didn’t have the heart to tell Kutty and make him even more miserable.
He raised himself. “Got to visit my appachchi for dinner. She has rice puttu, appam, fish curry, ladies finger kichady and pineapple pachady tonight. Its Onam. She can set another place at the table.” He looked at you. He actually liked you or there was something ulterior in this.
You had visited Kutty’s aunt Sukanya the previous onam. Malayalee food is a coconut megalomania and you wished you could, like PC Sorkar, make it disappear while it was en route from your plate to your mouth. Kutty’s aunt however was a sweetheart and he had a particularly cute cousin going to Stella Maris who had shown you a pimple that was growing under her left arm the last time you’d dropped in. It didn’t matter to her that you were studying engineering, not medicine. Stella Maris chics were nuts about IIT guys.
Maybe Ms. Pimple would be available for a night show at Blue Diamond, afterwards. Sukanya auntie would be happy to see you two together. She had a weird philosophy- that Malayalee girls should have Bengali hubbies. That way they would have child prodigies, she’d say.
You accepted the Onam dinner invitation. You would be failing in your dooty toward your friend if you didn’t check that pimple out tanight. And it wasn’t as if the pimple was in the middle of nowhere and you’d need a GPS, was it? At 18, life was wide open.