malayali's subtle art of giving a പുച്ഛം™
As a card-carrying member of the Malayali community, let me shed some light on our little-known traditional pastime - പുച്ഛം (pucham).
Puchcham, which translates to contempt, scorn, abhorrence, or looking down upon others, is a subtly ingrained trait in Malayalee society and culture. While Malayalees are proud of their intellectual achievements and social progression, there remains an undercurrent of snobbery and elitism against those seen as "inferior."
This pucham manifests in various ways. For starters, Malayalees tend to dismiss or criticize people from other Indian states as unsophisticated or uncultured. Physical attributes like complexion or linguistic abilities are sometimes used as excuses to feel superior. Even within Kerala, certain castes or classes face indirect discrimination and microaggressions due to deeply rooted notions of hierarchy.
On the surface, Malayalees advocate for equality and social justice. However, scratch beneath, one finds inherent biases against those lacking status symbols like educational qualifications, social connections, or financial wealth. There is an obsession with displaying outward markers of "development" and "modernity" to prove one's own elevated social standing.
Even friendly teasing and jokes among Malayalees sometimes reinforce the second-class status of certain groups. The casual prejudice becomes normalized as a part of culture and upbringing.
For many decades, this attribute of pucham used to shine in popular culture, too.
Overall, shedding the ingrained cloak of pucham will be a long journey. But with open and honest reflection as a society, Kerala can move toward being truly inclusive instead of exclusionary in its famed progressivism.
Oh wait, did I just demonstrate പുച്ഛം in this very article?