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We blend so well and yet stand apart…I only wince a bit when I’m called something that I am not-The Girl from the North.
“Mamma, are we Hindi?” Stumped!!!
Before I could even fathom how to reply pat goes the first brat “Yes we are Hindi, right Mom?”
Why do you two always ask such difficult questions, I moan!! “It’s so easy mom” We are not Tamil right, so we are Hindi! Everyone in school calls me that.”
That’s another stunner! I didn’t know these kids faced this discrimination at such young ages. Miss Naïve right? How could they not be a part of this great divide? It’s all around us.
“Hindi is a language that we speak”, I say. You both hardly speak any Hindi too. How can you be a language?”
“So, WHAT are we then?” they ask in unison. I think I need a paracetemol here!!
Cut to a dozen or more years back when I moved to Chennai, South India.
“You’re North Indian, right?”
“I’m from Mumbai”
“North Indian, da” a colleague would say introducing me.
Again I’d clarify- “I’m from Mumbai”. I could be talking to bare walls and it would have pretty much the same impact- Zilch!
On the west coast of India and almost half way up is Mumbai, the gateway to both North and South India. The co- ordinates are 19.0760° N, 72.8777° E. That is the geographical location but to anyone from Tamil Nadu- Any person who doesn’t belong to the 4 Southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh; include Telangana now is, ‘A NORTH INDIAN.’
A few days back a lady in my apartment block asked me- “Hey did I introduce you to that friend of mine-She is from your place… just like you.”
“Yes you did. She’s from Surat, Gujarat.”
“Yeah! Just like you North Indian.”
So here goes- “I am a North Indian”. When you can’t beat them… join them.
A funny thing I noticed which I never did before was when I went back home after my marriage. The same distinction existed everywhere. Anyone who belongs to the 4 or 5 Southern states mentioned above was called a “MADRASI “.
You’ve become a madrasi! My cousins would tease me when I professed my love for idlis and Nei Dosa.
The kids are teased each time we travel to Mumbai! Their attempts to converse with the other apartment kids in their anglicised and accented hindi makes them “Madrasis”! Hindi here, Madrasi there…. They ought to be confused!!
“We are Sindhis” – I begin to explain but give up as the origin of Sindh being in Pakistan brings out a contemptuous- “I’m not Pakistani!!” “Never”! That’s sorted… or still unsorted!!
Born in Bengal, brought up in Mumbai and married into the South. I am like my country- diverse and unique. The Victoria Memorial, Gateway of India and Marina Beach are all special with beautiful memories. There are so many like me. I meet them every day. They’ve grown to love their sambhar rice with ghee and podi as much as they love curry chawal and aloo parantha. We blend so well and yet stand apart…
I only wince a bit when I’m called something that I am not-The Girl from the North.
Image Via Pexels
Hi! I'm Meeta Chablanii- an animator, illustrator a freelance fashion designer and a full time mom to two little brats. My journey of bringing them up forms the backdrop of most of my posts. read more...
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