North Indian IT professionals talk about their tryst with Kerala

For centuries Kerala has been a favoured destination for people from all walks of life and now that it has declared itself an ‘emerging’ State it continues to draw many, especially those in the IT field. As a result, there are quite a number of techies from other States who work in Kerala.

“When I was told I’d be transferred, I was given the option to choose either Delhi or Thiruvananthapuram. I chose the latter,” says Mumbai-native IT professional Preetam Prabhu, who works for a multi-national company in Technopark. Preetam and his wife, Nindhya, who hails from Chandigarh, have been residents of the city for the past eight months and are finding it a “pretty good” place to stay.

Their feelings are mirrored by another Mumbaikar, Nilesh Chandrakant Nevgi, who works at Toonz Animation. “I love everything about Kerala… It’s the ideal place for a nature lover like myself. It reminds me of my ancestral place in Sawantvadi district of Maharastra, which borders Goa. In fact, it’s not only the tranquility that’s the same. There are similarities about the cuisine too. I was pleasantly surprised to be served kanji , which is the same as our pej . In the language too I have found similarities. I bought a Malayalam learner’s guide and of the 900 or so words in the book, I’ve underlined over 250 words that have its roots in Sanskrit, each of which kind of means the same in Hindi/Marathi,” he says. Words such as… “Well, words like kalyanam and buddhijeevi , which I love peppering into conversations!” he says with a laugh. “I try to speak Malayalam as much as possible. But here everyone seems to know English so there is no such thing as a communication gap,” he adds.

Techie Rajkumar Singh, who hails from the Bastar district in Bihar seems to be more than well-versed with South Indian culture and language, having lived this side of the Vindhyas for the last several years, ever since his college days at Sastra University, Thanjavur. After a couple of years at Technopark, he is now based in Infopark, Kochi, where he works in the human resources department at an MNC. “My wife, Rashmi, and I are very fond Thiruvananthapuram. In fact, Rashmi liked it so much that she was disappointed when I was transferred. Kerala is so unlike Bastar. It’s refreshing to wake up to greenery every day. The people are very nice and hospitable to outsiders. Even the infrastructure is better than Bihar. We feel at peace here,” he says.

His colleague Saurabh Kumar from Patna agrees and adds: “Life is so cool and calm here. I like the way how Malayalis are very cooperative – even auto-drivers whom I tend to drive insane with my terrible Malayalam pronunciation!”

Techie Shikha Kulshreshta, who hails from Agra, and who has lived across the country in places as different as Bikaner, Pondicherry and Patna (wherever her Air Force officer father was posted) also finds Kerala a balm for the soul. She’s been in the city for several months now. “It’s a peaceful and beautiful place,” she says. However, like most of those used to a cosmopolitan way of life, Shikha finds the city a tad too laidback. “I like the peaceful life. But after a while it tends to be a bit too tedious, especially for youngsters because there seems to be little life outside of work. As a capital city, one would imagine that the city would be more cosmopolitan. I love shopping and it’s frustrating that you can’t find what you want here, especially branded stuff. Also I can’t wrap my head around the taste of coconut oil, which seems to be used in all dishes,” says Shikha.

Preetam and Nindhya say that they had a tough time setting up house. “It’s mighty difficult to find skilled workers,” says Preetam. Saurabh, meanwhile, finds Kerala lacking in restaurants serving authentic North Indian vegetarian fare, a feeling shared by Rajkumar: “Save for a couple of Punjabi dhabas, there is very few options to dine out. I like rasam and sambhar and idli and dosa, but not everyday!”

Nita Sathyendran

In celebratory mood

Deepavali is around the corner and elsewhere in India, festivity is in the air. A number of techies can’t help feeling homesick what with the rather lacklustre celebrations in Kerala. That’s why some like Shikha are planning to celebrate with their families back home. “Like always I’ll be getting together with my three siblings, this time at my brother’s place in Pune. The festivities begin with Danteras, where we usually buy utensils and/or silver/gold. On chotti Deepavali we light lamps and on Deepavali day we burst crackers and have a Lakshmi puja in the evening.” Preetam, meanwhile, is tied down with work on Deepavali and can’t go home. “In Mumbai, Deepavali is a big celebration. It’s a time to celebrate life with family, friends and society. We burst crackers, wear new clothes, play cards, have a Lakshmi puja … I’m going to miss it all. So I’ve decided to hold a Deepavali celebration here.”