Thursday, August 15, 2013
From all over!
A few days ago I said that I had the unique disadvantage of being only Indian but that was loaded with sarcasm. See, I have utopian ideas about the country we live in, where people don't fight over states, people don't care if you are from Haryana, Gujarat, Karnataka, Punjab or Kerala because it doesn't matter to them, it shouldn't. We're people, we're a diverse people, we have different cultures and traditions all of them beautiful and in their essence the very same.
This state pride business gets on my nerves mostly because I see how people are mean to each other based on which state they're from. How can you justify your anger against some person because his mother went into labor in some geographic location you dislike? Does that make any sense to you? I can't stand that people hate customs from other states and why exactly is that? You don't get the logic of most of these customs because you haven't asked. From a traditional style of dance that you may find boring to a certain wedding ritual that you find rather stupid, it's all there for a purpose, if you'll only bother to educate yourself. (Again, let's leave out sexist traditions because across India you will find many, ALL of which need to be removed). I will not even bother with religion because the the whole dynamic of liking people changes. You are from this state and this religion, Hate+ extra hate! I'm not kidding, when I hear people who've lived in the south blame "Northies" or "Chinkies" or when someone calls the all south indians "Madrasi", when south Indians are stereotyped, It's offensive. You know why? Because people say "Madrasis" with a hint of anger! When they say "Gujju" or when they say "Bong" "Punju" they are being condescending, they are associating people directly to a certain stereotype! If you think that all south Indians have an accent or that all Gujratis are money minded, or that all Delhiites are spoilt brats, all Haryanvis brash, I really can't see how we can qualify ourselves as 'one country'. Even when people fit the stereotype, the question is can you hate them for it?
I know language is an important thing, but having traveled, mostly in the South, I've seen people who will not endorse each other, not help. Why is that? What is so wrong about you saying 3 words in a language that is not your state language? Why do you think that the essence of your mother tongue is somehow diluted if you speak in another language. Why is it important that I talk to you in Kannada ? or Tamil or Hindi? Why can't you be a decent Indian and not waste precious time hoping that I will magically learn a foreign language just to be able to communicate with you while I plan on living here for 2 days? C'mon! Not done. Not in the spirit of being one nation at least.
Part two of my story includes the fact that I come from various part of India, family origins begin in the North and and head into the south. Having grand parents whose fathers had jobs all over India, my grand parents lived in places like Delhi, Shimla and Pune. This was at least 80 years back, but when you live in a place for some time you carry it with you, immaterial of whether they spent most of their later life in the south, they carried a part of all the places they lived in with them. Same thing with my parents. Parents who lived in almost every part of K'nataka. Now, interestingly, As a child I had been exposed to a multitude of cultures solely because my parents were exposed to it. They saw people, learned from them and brought it to me.
Having origins in two states M'rashtra and K'nataka, it makes my life a little different, culturally. I speak both languages fluently and I have no issues fitting in, but the problem is people ask me where my loyalties lie. And then it gets ugly. People from Maharashtra ask me if and how and why I know Marathi, I say I know it because it's my mother tongue. The next question is how or why live in K'nataka. I simply fail to see the question there after. If you want me to put down the state I live in, impossible. Look down upon a state that hasn't really done anything evil to me, why would I? No, I can't.
Part 3 of my problem is that I have friends from all over and I cannot for a minute bring in my state or my language when I talk to them, I cannot make friends with people like that. Call me what you will, but I think only shallow people care about what part of the map you call home. My best friend speaks Malayalam she is from Kerala but lived in Bombay, My other bestie is from Rajasthan, my closest friend lives in Mumbai, Another amazing friend is from Delhi! My roommate and very close friend was from UP and another was from Assam. I knew somebody who was from Punjab but settled in Karnataka for longer than I have. Part of my family lived in Gujarat, I know friends who call Calcutta their home, I know friends who live in Hyderabad even though they are from Karnataka. Chennai folk who love Karnataka. Kannada folk who love living in Mumbai, my friends who've made Pune their home, When I think of how wonderful these people are and how they've gone about doing their own thing, I cant help but wonder, why can't we make a strange city home for someone who isn't from there? Why should they seek out other people from their own state just to feel like they have company. Why should the first question on anybody's mind when someone says they live in a flat be "So your roommates are from the same city as you?" Why isn't it just "So how are your roommates?" Why are we so stuck to our state labels? You know what, I'm mighty proud of the state my mother delivered me in, but if that's a reason for me to hate a genuinely good human being solely because her/his mother chooses to speak a certain language or wear her saree differently or decided to have her kid there. Then I'm sorry, It doesn't work for me. I can't hate someone because I'm incapable of understanding diversity in a country that is KNOWN for it's diversity.
Oh! BTW let's leave politics out of this too. Politics and politicians will do anything just to get you to say yes to their opinions. If you hate someone because your politician says so, I can only give you a look of contempt. I will not be hostile to people, that's my general motto in life and I don't expect people to do the same for me though. I've been disliked plenty for this state thing, but I've been loved more too. I have plenty of reasons to hate people, but for god's sake! language and state they come from aren't one of them. I'm from all over and I cannot belong to one if it means hating the other.