November 22, 2002
Across the ocean

On reading this posting, I couldnít help but remember someone I met a couple of months back.

"Are you a malay-alee?" Mildly shocked, I turned to see this slightly curious white man. I was happy. For once, someone had recognized me as a Malayalee and that someone wasnít even an Indian. I am usually mistaken for a Tamilian/ Andhra-ite. Not that I have anything against them, its just that I am proud to be a Malayalee.

Coming back to the slightly curious white manÖ Now, I was totally shocked. It turned out that he wasnít merely curious. He was actually learning the language Ė Malayalam, through a South Asian Languages Program at the University of Texas. On his first visit to India, he somehow managed to fall in love with just the sound of this wonderful language and ever since, heíd been collecting resources to learn it. He was a bit disappointed to know that I could only speak the language and didnít know to read or write it. He readily gave me the phone number and address where I could place an order for the textbook he was using - Malayalam: A University Course and Reference Grammar. We spoke for a while about Kerala and its culture. He was also planning his second trip to India, this time just Kerala. He seemed to know a lot more about the small state, than I expected.

A little embarrassed about my ignorance of the language, I thanked him for the number and came back home intrigued by this manís genuine interest in a distant land. He was not the first American I met, who knew or liked India so much. There was something more. I havenít seen him after that. Think heís moved from the building or maybe, heís in Godís Own Country.

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