22, Female, Kottayam
July 2, 2013 7:13 AM   Subscribe

The Malayali Nurse on the Moon
She is everywhere, so it becomes difficult to see her. At some point you have to squint to see past the chimera that is the Malayali nurse. You have to ask why even Libya — broken, bullet-scarred and currently in possession of 14 psychiatrists for the whole nation — a better choice than any place in India? You have to ask why she chooses nursing at all. And if we don’t see her as a martyr to the family coffers, who is the woman emerging out of the smoke then?
posted by infini (13 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
am.. i having a stroke? is this some form of english i haven't come across? is this some kind of markov chain magazine?
posted by gorestainedrunes at 7:42 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

am.. i having a stroke? is this some form of english i haven't come across? is this some kind of markov chain magazine?

Ironically, I have no idea what you're talking about.

A really interesting article. The idea that a hospital in Tripoli can provide relatively better conditions for Malayali nurses is fairly arresting.
posted by billiebee at 7:50 AM on July 2, 2013

Fascinating article - who knew that Libya at the moment ranks up higher than their homeland(s) for job conditions.
posted by halcyonday at 7:56 AM on July 2, 2013

I really liked this article, although I wish it had more of a focus. I would love to read more about the education certificate problems with hospitals or about how in a place I think of as more traditional, the idea of women as equal, if not primary wage earners.

Fascinating, but I want more.

Although I do wish I knew the slang they use.
posted by Hactar at 7:58 AM on July 2, 2013

Agreed - I wish I had a glossary or a map link for some of the terms and places mentioned. This is probably what it's like reading American magazine articles in India though. Where is this "Missouri" they speak of and what is an LPN?
posted by maryr at 8:19 AM on July 2, 2013

Although I do wish I knew the slang they use.

I could help with some of the slang or mallu injokes, used to live with them during my college years - first year sharing a house with 5 others, as mentioned in the article and then cohabitating with bf for 4 years. tl;dr Just Ask!

is this some form of english i haven't come across?

Yes, its not American or English. Otoh, I do agree the article could be better structured

but I've seen this kind of lack of focus even with writing out of other ex colonies, creative writing really isn't taught and should be, tbh, now that the whole world is coming online and finding their voices
posted by infini at 8:26 AM on July 2, 2013

Transnational masculinity: Indian nurses' husbands in Ireland

I have met many young Christian men in Kerala whose ambition, like Philip’s, was to migrate by marrying a nurse. If the matrimonial market used to be harsh on nurses a few decades ago, the picture has changed and nurses are now on high demand. The stigma attached to this profession in India has certainly not completely vanished, but in
Kerala, nursing has become a real chance to enhance one’s career opportunities. While visiting matrimonial websites, it is easy to check how much they are looked after by prospective grooms. However despised may the commonly named USA nurses be by the highest class/casts (George, 2005), they tend to represent the key to the Western dream for loads of young men belonging to the Christian Malayali middle class who don’t envisage the possibility of a bright future in their own country. PDF

posted by infini at 8:37 AM on July 2, 2013

gotcha. i went back and actually clicked the about link and figured it out. pre-coffee dementia.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 8:37 AM on July 2, 2013

Thanks for sharing this. The semi-hallucinatory quality of the writing is effective for me, and apparently lack of structure is something I am very comfortable with.

Several years ago I spent a slightly distracted pre-dawn vigil in the Kochi airport waiting for a friend to fly in during a Kerala-wide transportation strike (I think I paid a guy triple to pretend he was a friend and not a taxi driver so we would have a ride to the hotel).

I remember being confused at all the flights coming in from the Gulf, and then learning about the diaspora.
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:26 PM on July 2, 2013

Thanks for posting this. It is always interesting to see and be reminded about other people and other cultures outside of the western nations, especially so when the language is the same but different.
I had to google Malayali to work out where these woman came from.
I would never have imagined so many Malayali or even other sub continent women being nurses in Libya. Such a shame in so many ways that the North African nations seem incapable of training enough of their own people; it's not as if they don't have either the oil or the natural gas money to do so.
Or is this more of the fundamentalist nonsense keeping women out of the workplace?
posted by adamvasco at 2:20 PM on July 2, 2013

I don't think its a regional or cultural thing to have a shortage of nursing professionals. Finland is trying out importing from Spain while over here in the ASEAN its the Filipinas who are most popular.

I suspect its a matter of supply and demand and opportunity - densely populated, economically challenged yet highly literate state on one side (Kerala reached 90th percentile literacy of men and women decades ago as opposed to the rest of India even today) and skills shortage on the other. Even the US has a nursing shortage. I believe its mostly Filipinas plugging that demand.

Culture and religion do seem to matter in that so many traditional religions have restrictions on unclean or blood or touching other religions/genders/etc that I suspect that is where Malayalee christian (and the Catholic Filipinas) found they could fill the vacuum.

Here are some links. (I too am surprised to see such quality of research and such a body of work, I originally just linked an article received via a friend)

Daughters of the Malayalee Diaspora: Syrian Christian Nurses from Kerala India
Jaisy Joseph| Harvard Divinity School

Often leading to large North Indian cities, the Persian Gulf countries, and to the West after the expansion of the global market for nurses in the 1960’s, these women developed different skills in order to effectively negotiate and adapt to each new context. Furthermore, in contrast to the more precarious situation of contracted work in the Persian Gulf, the United States enabled more stability and, therefore, encouraged settlement. Nevertheless, once in America, these women redefined their roles within the different spheres of work, home, and the church community in recognition that they must now lay a foundation for future generations outside of Kerala. Certain decisions were made and skills acquired at each stage of the migration process with regards to accommodating to ever new levels of autonomy and responsibility, which often lie in tension with traditional patriarchical values. Thus, this paper will follow these nurses along the most commonly desired migratory path to the United States and examine how they renegotiated gender in accordance with their cultural and religious worldviews.

While the latter link is more of an extended abstract, the first link is pretty comprehensive and includes the research done on changing roles and status/standing of the young women who are now breadwinners.

I would hazard a guess that the patterns we see with Keralite nurses are also those that maybe showing up in the IT industry's young women from elsewhere. That tentative first step out until confidence lets you fly. An example of a mashup, that you'd recognize would be Padmasree Warrior of Cisco.

Warrior is a Malayalee surname
posted by infini at 9:51 PM on July 2, 2013

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