The GLOBAL MALLU: An Identity Crisis
One age old adage which I have found to be conspicuously true is that anywhere in the world you can find a mallu. The general take on the state is that “ee naadu nannavilla” which means that “This place sucks!” which is why expats (nurses, engineers, docs, unskilled or anything you want) are our primary export product! You name it; we have got the guy for the job. Remittances from global capitalism are carrying the whole Kerala economy contributing a fifth of its GSDP. The fact is that the Keralites simply believe in going places. The best qualified (grads basically) generally romance the US and European countries and the second rug (Some qualified but more non grads) fantasize the Persian Gulf nations (fondly known as ‘Gelf’ is a stress on the ‘e’). Docs and nurses go everywhere. Mallus started finding nirvana in making the dumbass ‘Arabi’ rich. All said and done the way the society and system works baffles everyone. This write-up tries to discern how the hero expats (esp. Gulf guys) of yesteryear have found themselves in a serious identity crisis and how the social equations which brought them to a pedestal eventually gave them a raw deal. Read on.
How the Story Begins:
Today one Keralite worker in six works overseas and a half of them are in the Persian Gulf. To understand these expats we need to go through their typical story. Essentially a jobless and branded ‘useless’ guy who is despised by the society get a call one fine day from one of his gulf friends citing a job opportunity. He is thrilled, like he has achieved nirvana, his family is proud, the girl next door sends a flying kiss and his neighbors uphold him. Then all we know is how he became great overnight, comes down once a year with perfume and candy, invest big time in concrete in thin air and get hitched good eventually (considered a price catch!). He becomes the local celebrity and local mallus hero worships him. Even the educated Kerala society has to put up with his vainglorious talks as only he has the greenbacks.
The Other Side of the Coin:
The flipside of the story is poignant. The guy with 4 flats and a german luxury car in kerala lives in a 500sq ft space with his wife and 2 kids. His job sucks, the uneducated ‘Arabi’ boss treats him like dirt, he hardly has a social life and keralite women go shopping draped a these obnoxious things called burqas. You see, sarees and gold don’t really make sense anymore, shopping is no more thrilling and life is a suffocation. The fact is that gulf families are institutionalized. First they hate the place but stick on to make the bucks, then the get used to the filthy life and finally they have no existence without the gulf identity. A pretty depressing viewpoint I must say. All this suffering is undergone for 30 days a year of superhero status! True story!
How the Cookie Crumbles:
Interestingly, the economic and social revolution in Kerala after the 1996 Liberalization and Globalization happened came as a bolt from the blue for the Gulf mallu. A deluge of investment poured into all industries instilling big time development. Employment became available for all local Mallus willing to work hard and the pay was good too. That’s when the ‘gulf man’ story turned on its head. Even the economic advantages of the gulf man are slowly being spiked out. Time came when “handsome, teetotaler, working in Dubai” kind of alliance ads became totally played out. The prosperity of Kerala has done them in. The gulf man has been stripped of his heaven born status and has become like anyone else. Theory says that there has to be social, economic or moral incentive behind every phenomenon. The ‘Gulf man’ story was fueled by the economic and social incentives. But contrary to expectation he lost his breather that the larger than life image once gave him and his new status became ‘Screwed up Big time!’. His situation at home became run-of-the-mill while his situation at work has remained poignantly status quo, if not worse! To top that he has become ‘Gulf institutionalized’ which makes it impossible for his ego to let him to the take same clerks job back home in Kerala. I even nurse the feeling that gulf champs are not even nearly as competent enough to take advantage our booming economic situation considering that they get over their current predicament.
Having said all this we must understand that ‘Dubai’ is the biggest fraud in the history of the earth. The emirate doesn’t even have any oil. They built state-of-the-art buildings and infrastructure using billions of borrowed greenbacks. More like a giant ponzi scheme! They expect people to buy their retard theory that tourism is going to get them running, load of crap if you ask me! Dubai is going to tank; it’s just a matter of time. Lots of ‘Gulf men’ having no choice are going to come back. That said, what I really feel is that whatever happens to the gulf even if thousands are retrenched, a job is always available to those willing to slog it out in gods own country. The point I want to drive home is that a filthy gulf job which robs off your soul makes no sense when you have all the options for a decent employment home. It all comes down to a matter of choice and its consequence; let’s hope the gulf mallu thinks wise.