Saturday, August 11, 2018

Kerala Diary 2 - Ordering food in Hindi

Most people in Kerala (the small state tucked away in the southern tip of the Indian peninsula) speak their local language of Malayalam even if they know English. Many locals might understand Hindi (the most widely spoken language in the country) but they aren't comfortable speaking it. Which means, basically it's Malayalam that's the predominant language of communication in Kerala.

So today evening, at a restaurant in Ernakulam (in central Kerala) when I had to speak in Hindi to order food, I could not help thinking how drastically this state and its people have changed.

Over the few years, there has been a number migrants from the north of the country (who know only Hindi) moving in to Kerala because of increasing job opportunities.

It's only a few months since this waiter in the restaurant, who is from Darjeeling, in West Bengal state, has been in Kerala. He says he can understand Malayalam but not speak fluently. I switched to Hindi when he replied to me in that language.

I spent some time talking to him, a very affable person. And for a moment I wondered if I was in some north Indian city!

I am sure he will soon learn to speak Malayalam, just as many locals, who know only Malayalam, can now speak Hindi very well.

Incidentally, I spotted menu in some small hotels, written in both Malayalam and Hindi.

This shows how a society enriches itself with migration and consequent intermingling of people of diverse backgrounds and skill sets.

Rains abate

It was a relief to see sun shining bright today morning while I travelled by a bus from North Paravur to Ernakulam. News also came in that rains have abated, water levels in dams across the State of Kerala have seen a drop. That's a major consolation.

However, the National Disaster Management Authority of India has warned that there are possibilities of rain in as many as 16 States across the nation in the coming few days as a depression develops over the Bay of Bengal.


  1. Hi Pradeep - the monsoon type rains you tend to get in the Indian subcontinent must be devastating ... life giving at times, but appalling at others. I'm glad they've abated for now.

    The integration of peoples is so interesting in this day and age - and which languages will survive and for how long ...

    Thanks for the interesting post - Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary, Yes, rains have abated now; though not fully ceased.

  2. The migrant labour is widely prevalent in all cities of Southern states in restaurants,bakeries, grocery shops, in housing colonies as watchmen,courier companies and such like.Their number is increaing possibly due to scarcity or unwillingness of local labour and willingness of migrant labour to work at cheaper wages. It may also lack of opportunities in Northern states.
    Good that rain has abated and recue/ rehabilationactivities in progress.Generally epidemics follow floods.Preventive steps in affected areas cannot brook delay.

    1. Hi KP, That point about epidemics is a good one. Hope the government and people are taking precautionary steps.

  3. Migration of languages is fascinating.