What Every Malayali Neighbourhood Looks Like

One of the first things we look out for when we move to a new house or plan to build a house is the neighbourhood status quo. Are the neighbours ‘nammude type’? Will they be friendly? You have to take all this into account fr they are going to be an almost constant presence in your life from then on. Here’s a look at some Malayali neighbourhood scene that you might relate to.

The ‘they know your paramb better’ scene

While you might have forgotten to check if your ‘vaazhakkula’ has ripened or if it’s time for you to call the ‘thenga parikknna chettan’, worry not! Most often your neighbour’s nose is planted in your paramb. You get updates about which plant needs more watering or how you can make your chrysanthemums bloom better. They have opinions, suggestions, and recommendations for every inch of your land, whether you need it or not.

The ‘edthotte, parichotte’ scene

They are the type you wish went grocery shopping more often than they actually did. An occasional “kariveppila parichotte chechi?” is often welcomed because it never ends there. You get to catch up on all the latest neighbourhood gossip in less than 5 minutes! It only gets nerve-wracking when ‘kariveppila’ shifts to ‘biriyani chemb’ or some of your mom’s prized cutlery. And try asking her why she can’t just say no to them. All moms have the standard reply “Enganeya venda nn paraya?!” We don’t know if it’s cute or just incredibly annoying.

Before you call KSEB, ‘appuram koodi onn nokkatte!’

The very first thing you do when there is a power cut is to check if your neighbour’s house has electricity. It’s all good if you can’t see a light ON in their house as well. But be prepared for the tension that whips up, if God forbid, you see their lights ON! Then ‘vepraalam’ takes over and you start bugging KSEB to determine the exact cause of the power cut.

The waste management tharkkam

Some neighbourhoods have great kitchen-waste management techniques which are most often panchayat initiatives. But there are always people who still ‘believe’ in burning them no matter how many times you express your discomfort with the fumes! They always respond with, “Verenth cheyyaana chechi! Korche ullu, ippo theerum.”

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Treat sharing

How we wait for Eid, Christmas, or Onam to have our neighbourhood aunty’s masterpiece of a dum biriyani, or plum cake, or that lip smacking paalada paaysam! And then you piss your mom off when she tries to replicate the dish by shaking your head and saying, “Auntyde athrem perfect aayla, ennaalum OK aan!”

And we don’t really have to wait around for festivals, to be honest. Board exam results or neighbour aunty’s son’s daughter’s first birthday is more than enough to make a box of laddu or slices of fresh cream cake come our way!

Your pattikutty-sitter or chedi-sitter

Whenever you have to go stay over at a relative’s house or you land up in a situation where you can’t manage to get back in time for your doggy’s lunchtime, neighbours are always there to help you out. They come and feed your animals and also water your plants when you are away. And no matter how annoying they are, you always are grateful that they exist when it comes to moments like these!

Emergency meetings about random aunties and their ‘gelf’ husbands

The planned gossip conferences are formally called ‘kudumbashree yogams’. But then there are these unplanned yet juicy talks that crop up out of the blue and make your mom forget that she had something on the ‘adupp’. These talks range from how Mr. Menon became the head of the ward despite locals being against him to how Mrs. Kumar flaunted a ₹5000 saree at a party the previous night, which apparently her husband got her from the ‘gelf’. Its like a ‘vaarthakal otta nottathil’!

Chakka-maanga priceless bonds

Malayalis live for the chakka and maanga season. Admit it! And how our eyes gleam when we see our neighbour’s ‘maavu’ laden with golden mangoes and we secretly know that a share of that will land in our tummies pretty soon! We are also extremely generous when we have an overdose of ‘chakka’ and we end up giving a half or so to our neighbours out of sheer love and not just because, “Ho! chakka thinn mathi aay, korch avrkkum kodkkaam!” You know it if you know it!

Neighbourhoods and neighbours have always been a lively part of our lives. We mostly went to school in the same school van as our neighbour’s kids, most often our mom and neighbour aunties go grocery shopping together, and our dad and the uncle next door have heart to heart conversations about which car is worth buying and why stock market investments are tricky. And we have all had moments with them where we silently thank our lucky stars for their existence. True that, we have had our own share of disagreements with them. But as someone once said, “Sneham ulladthe paribhavam ullu!”

You might also like: Sensory Pleasures In A Malayali Household

So what are some common scenes from your neighbourhood?

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