Kerala depends on its expats for most of the moral , financial and literary growth. The flow of people out of Kerala has started long ago, primarily for seeking jobs. Over the decades, the flavour of location kept changing from Mumbai, Delhi to Chennai , the Gulf countries and Bangalore ( of late the U.S) . In the early migration, Mumbai stood as one of the most preferred destination. Unlike Delhi, where most of the expats were on the PSU jobs or central govt service, Mumbai was common man's paradise. Ultil the early 70s Mumbai continued to attract many Keralites. It was the trouble that erupted with the rise of Shiv Sena, this flow of Keralites reduced to Mumbai. Chennai , was the preferred destination for many a lower section of the crowd, setting up tea and vegitable shops and around late 70s the desert dream and Gulf mania gripped Kerala. The Y2K lead opportunities and the need for Software engineers, made Bangalore the most preferred destination in the recent past.
It is thus, important to understand that every Keralites, carry a part of Kerala within him when he migrates, living off the nostalgic memories of the distant land. The last half of 20th century gave us enormous literary classics, in Malayalam, produced from these parts of the country. Some of the big names in Malayalam Literature ( there are quite a few names), have spent a large part of their life in Mumbai or Delhi. On the other side, every family in Kerala can boast of some one of their close relative, residing in most of these metros, hence making these names like Bandra, Andheri, Chembur, Goregaon , familiar to them as if they are some part of Trissur or Palakkad.
Smt Jyothirmayi Shankaran, brings out the daily snippets of the life in Mumbai, in this recently published book Mumbai Jaalakam. There are no dearth of books that cover the Mumbai story at varied topics and influence. Mumbai had been part of the literary read for most of the 'reading' Keralites through the works of Anand and others. There had been stories and legends passed over friends get together and other informal meetings. But seldom, had there been an attempt to get them told in a basic form of narration, meant for general read.
Jyothirmayi Shankaran, does not deploy the high brow language, and there is no pretensions of any intellectual debates. These are the observations and readings of the common man. This are the impressions of some one living this life, and not that of a traveller. Like every common man/woman, she takes up issues with the way authorities are handling various functions, the fear of safety, the tussle with the auto/taxi drivers, the rise and fall stock market, the Bollywood, the separate world of the sub-urban train, the effect of terrorism, the local importance places and their significance, the festivities and the Gods. These are not the notes on Mumbai alone, its the tale of every large metro in india. Mumbai had the advantage or disadvantage of going through them ahead of the rest, often leading them in many a progress.
These are written over the period of Dec 2007 to March 2010, and, I understand, was published in the online magazine Kanikkonna under the same name. It was now compiled into a book and was published, by the same group. Easy and quick read, and barring few places, she shows a lot of command over the use of language and style.------------------------------------------------------
Mumbai Jaalakam ( 2010 )