(function() { var c = -->

21 September 2011

The Lament of the Gelf Returnee

Confession: This post is not mine. I play only the role of the narrator, the sutradhar if you will, but it was too good not to share. Okay, so the background is thus:

There is a forum that my husband frequents, where there is a discussion of many things 'south-Asian' (for want of a better term). Serious discussions these, by people who are mostly in academia, and bherry bherry intellectual. Mostly. Once in a while, however, (and that is mostly) they let their hair down and come up with intellectual discussions such as this. As far as I can tell, and remember, I'm hearing this second-hand, there was a comment on the forum about Malayalis being 'hot'. To which, one of the posters responded with the following anecdote:
Oh, it's not the Malayalis who are hot, we're really very cool people : it's the place. Once while travelling on the Bangalore-Ernakulam train, our co-passenger was a Gulf-returnee rigged out in an Eskimo-style anorak with fur trim, all zipped up to the chin. In Palakkad, he took the zipper down a couple of notches and remarked to the world in general, "houff, kandri verri hote".

To which, my husband, who probably a) had nothing much to do that day b) was frustrated with fixing bugs in someone else's software c) was momentarily insane d) was just being himself (you pays your money and you takes your choice) decided, on the spur of the moment, to respond in verse. And while it may not be 'poetry' it definitely rhymes, and there is a nice lilt to the chorus. I'm still trying to figure out which tune to set it to - it may serve as a marching song for all Malayalis everywhere. Of which, by the way, I am one, so, to all Malayalis out there who *may* take offence, hey, relax. Have a chai. 

I cannot even lay claim to the title; that is all my husband's doing, right down to the accent! 

The lament of the gelf returnee

I was travelling in a train
And as it snaked through the plain
I turned to the lot
who I felt shared my pain...
And I shouted this refrain
Chorus: Ouff, Kandri verri hote.

I unzipped my windcheater
And said, "turn off that heater"
To the sun, who cared not a jot
It kept at the thermometer
Driving it higher..
Chorus: Ouff, Kandri verri hote

I said "I, what a fool
To leave the gelf which was so cool,
where I used to lie on my cot.
Und switch on the AC.
Und dring, water ice and whiskey."
Chorus:Houff, kandri verri hote..

Oll this fun in the sun
Is really overdone
Unless you cook it in a pot
With kippers and karimeen
And forms of chemmeen
Chorus: Tra la la, Houff, kandri verri hote

So all my Malayali brethren
And I'll include Sir dabbler among them
Think this thought
Do not live with this folly
Let us be cool and jolly
Let it all hang out.
Let us stop being Indian
And become Canadian
Err, is this a slip Freudian?
©Sadanand Warrier 2011

ps: My husband says that the refrain has to be shouted to relish it completely. 
pps: I wonder if posting this will encourage him to write more doggerel! 
ppps: I refuse to be held responsible for any of this.


  1. Anu, gosh, I have a Malayali neighbour who talks *exactly* like this! It's amazing! I am sorry I'm not politically correct but I giggled over this.

  2. I was just replying to your comment on Word Play. :) Oh, feel free to be totally incorrect. I am a Malayali by the way, and so is my husband, and heck, if we can't laugh at ourselves, then who are we going to laugh at? Besides, I love the accent!

  3. p.s. What is 'karimeen'? And 'chemmeen'? I got that they are probably some food, but what exactly?

  4. They are both varieties of fish. Apart from that, I really have no idea (I'm vegetarian) about karimeen so I googled and voila! All hail the Compu-devam - 'karimeen' is called Pearlspot (according to Wiki) Oh, yes, even I know that Chemmeen is prawn.

  5. I wondered what this was about when I saw it in my feeds today morning! Brilliant, Anu! That really hit the spot! I was feeling rather murderous toward a client, so this was some much-needed comic relief. Writing does run in your family, huh?

  6. ROTFL, Anu!I hope you don't mind but I've just e-mailed it to my husband at work. He is having a rough day, poor man, and I think he needs a nice break. This will be perfect!

    ps. Please ask your husband to write something about the UP Mathurs. I'd like to see Rishi's face if something like this were written about them. I know. I'm wicked.

  7. I emailed your comment to Sadu, Sridhar. I think he's rather embarrassed that I put it up on my blog. :) I'd told him I wanted to send it to dustedoff. He says 'Thank you' by the way.

  8. Feel free. I'm glad it made people laugh. I remember laughing helplessly as I read it the first time, so... I'm happy that others share that zany sense of humour. I'll pass on your request to my husband. I'm not sure Rishi will appreciate it, though. :)

  9. Hi Anu, Rishi here. Tina has been telling me of your blog and about your film reviews and song lists. I have always meant to visit this blog, but never got around to it until now. But Tina emailed me this poem and boy, how I laughed. So much, in fact that some of my colleagues wanted to know what I was cackling about. So I shared it with them, and even the Mallus in the crowd crowed over this! Tell your husband a deepfelt thanks for the nice belly laugh. Oh, and I have NO issues if he decides to take off on us Mathurs. :)

  10. Hi Rishi, welcome aboard. I'm glad you enjoyed this. Sadu is (I think) slightly embarrassed that people have liked something that he took about ten minutes to toss off. He says he doesn't know enough about the Mathurs to write satirical poems about them. :)

  11. :-D :-D :-D

    Anu, I can't wipe that grin off my face! This is hilarious. Your husband's a genius. Loved this, simbly and absolutely loved this.

  12. Hi Rishi, posted a reply once before, but it seems to have been eaten by the Gooly-gooly witch :( Anyway, welcome aboard, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think Sadu is getting a bit embarrassed now. This is something he just happened to have dashed off. I did pass on your message - he said to say he doesn't know enough about the Mathurs to pen satiric poems on them. :)

  13. dustedoff's comment got swallowed by blogger for much the same reason as my response to Rishi. So, with her permission, I am cutting and pasting it from my dashboard.
    On 22/09/11 dustedoff wrote:
    :-D :-D :-D I can't wipe that grin off my face! This is hilarious. Your husband's a genius. Loved this, simbly and absolutely loved this!

  14. Houff, kandri verri hote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    BTW what does it mean! Most probably that it is too hot! ?!
    yeah, kandri verri hote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    BTW after your short hibernation, you seem to be totally in the drive now! one post a day. I can only say:

    Jokes apart, I admire your productivity!
    So many good things to read and so less time! :-(

  15. Don't you have any Mallu friends? :) Yes, it's 'Country very hot' if said with a very thick Malayali accent.

    And this was not my post, meanie. It was my husband's. :(

    But thanks for the song. As long as I keep my eyes shut, I can pretend it is not Manoj Kumar she is singing to.

  16. I had lots of mallu friends when I was in Bombay. I just love the deep rolling accent! Really!
    now i have one! But we mostly talk about her trouble with her parents rather than about the language! ;-)

    "As long as I keep my eyes shut, I can pretend it is not Manoj Kumar she is singing to."

    Hum sab to wohi karte hai na!

  17. I am beginning to appreciate the Mallu accent more, now that I'm in the US. :)

    I'm sure there must be *some* Manoj Kumar fan out there who is going to take offence at this. Honestly, I didn't mind the man much before he became Bharat Kumar - then, all those annoying mannerisms began.

  18. This is hilarious! I am still laughing over the "kandri verri hote"! I am a kinda Malayali, which means my origins are in Kerala, but I have lived everywhere but there, and my hubby is much more Malayali than I am, but he also grew up everywhere (and a few years in Malayalam medium), and I say, well, not kandri verri hote, but "Oof, this is a furnace" the minute I land in India and the first blast of hot air hits my face!

  19. Lalitha, it *is* hilarious, isn't it? My husband and I are Malayalis but he has only lived in Bombay; I have lived in many different places *including* Kerala - so I guess we have every right to laugh at ourselves. :)

  20. This category reminds me of the Panchtantra story where a game of stone-throwing by the children happens to be a death-knell for the frogs in the pond, as we enjoy your tongue-in-cheek narrations of Shri Sadanad's laments with a sadistic pleasure!!!!!

  21.  :) Thanks, Ashokji. I'm usually laughing so much that I'm not even sure what I'm writing.


Back to TOP