Just switch on your Television and change the channel to some Malayalam Channel like Surya, Asianet, Kairali, Amrita etc. I can bet you on one thing. During the breaks between any soaps, or movies or reality shows you will see atleast one gold related advertisement. If you are lucky enough then may be even three. That is the status of Kerala. Every other week you can see an advertisement in the local newspaper or the TV channel, inviting the locals to join for the inauguration of another branch of a gold chain, with top Mollywood actors and actresses cutting the ribbon.
Its not just Rice or Liquor the Keralites are greedy for but Gold. You can see even the elite groups among the men stopping their SUV’s to run and fetch a bottle of their favourite brand of liquor from a BEVCO outlet. The women flock almost cause a stampede in the Jewellery store.
I am a Malayali girl but born and bought up in the North. My father too is like me. But like I said GOLD greed is in our DNA. He too wants to marry his daughter off with a minimum of 100 sovereigns of Gold (not kidding). My family says it’s not dowry, but something which I take to the family as my share and to be used for mine and my husband’s (idiot’s) future. It all starts as soon as a baby is born. Kiddie gold bangles, rings, waistlets, anklets, earrings etc keep coming irrespective of the gender of the baby. I was even fed a bit of gold paste during the ceremony of my first solid good ingestion. So you see, it’s in my blood too.
Some months back we specially visited Kochi with the intention of buying Gold, for my wedding which will be five to six years down the line.
Amma- “Antiques never go out of fashion Mole! Oh god!! I did not eat my breakfast, I am so hungry. That reminds me we should buy some biscuits too.”
Poor Me- “Yeh I know this place where you get good Oreos or Butter cookies.”
Amma- “I was talking about gold biscuits mole!”
So me and my parents entered Bhima showroom at Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kochi. The entire street is lined with jewellery stores (poor Mahatma Gandhi had nothing to do with this). I enter the Huge two floored store with different sections and believe me ‘baffled’ would be an understatement. I saw equality for the first time of my life! People from all sections of the society are running around with big stacks of Gandhi Paper in their hands (Now it hit me why that road is called Mahatma Gandhi Road).
I see this man, probably a fisherman in an old worn out shirt and lungi with a thick bundle of notes in his hand. He had just bought a necklace worth 1,50,000 Rupees. Every section of the society, any cast, any district, any status, rich or poor, fisherman or businessman, all fighting to buy gold and that too the best.
Artificial Jewellery is frowned upon here. Diamonds are secondary to gold for an average Malayali family. If you are a girl and your neck and ears are bare and devoid of even a tiny gold, you are attested as poor. I come from the land where people do not mind spending the rest of their life under debt by taking loan after loan just for stacking up gold. I come from a land where show-off is done in terms of displaying of Gold. I come from the land where women stand in bus stops wearing thick gold chains and bangles (thanks to the immense chain snatching, it has reduced). I come from the land were woman are gold mines. I come from the land which buys and sells quarter of the 800 tonne Gold sold all over India. I come from the land where ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD.