Friday, February 14, 2014

Being Indian

'Bruised Souls' By Nirupam Borboruah

My husband faced his first instance of racism 22 years ago in Assam. His Assamese father-in-law had just picked him up from the station and was bringing him home, pointing to some shanty huts on the way he said casually, these “Biharis” have come and made this once beautiful place dirty and filthy. The poor chap didn’t know how to respond as he was a “Bihari” born and bred and a proud one at that.

My husband has done his post-graduation from the iconic Delhi University. The campus was full of “harries” (Biharis) as they were referred to as in the 80s.They were the target of jokes and taunts by the local Delhites, these sometimes got pretty violent too

I am from Assam (and people disbelieve this as I am not remotely mongoloid in looks) and my friends from the other north-east states often called ‘chinkies’, ’Nepalese’ or even ‘Chinese’ in the D.U campus, were always presumed to be very casual and western in their life-styles. I had a friend from Nagaland, mongoloid features and all, she was the most introvert and shy creature I have ever come across. She never opened up to strangers, weighed her words and checked her behavior. She was solemn and serious on all occasions. Now this was contrary to the mind-set that the people had about the tribes of Naga land. They presumed she would be the typical north-east types-casual and easy-going, out to have fun, very ‘western’ in dress and outlook. Alas she was but the exact opposite.
What parallels do we draw from these examples? 

That Indians are prejudiced about everybody. Just because someone is from a certain part of the country, we are biased about them. We joke and make fun of people from anywhere. We have zero tolerance to those who are different from us. We are chauvinist in our attitude to anyone who is not from our caste, region, religion, community, who speak a different language, or who look different. The more the difference between ‘them’ and ‘us’, the more judgmental and dogmatic we become. We harbour narrow-minded opinions and views about the ‘differences’. We are sometimes hurtful and mean, and sometimes as in the case of thousands of Nido Tanias with violent consequences.

It may be someone from south then it’s “Madrasi” and they are fools, unless they are from Kerala then they are ‘kali-pilli nurses’. 

Punjabis (Sardars) are stupid and their stupidity strikes at 12 noon mostly! I lived in Punjab but never witnessed it and I pity the many Sikhs who are named Banta Singhs. 

Gujarati’s are gaudy and spend-thrift! And so are the Marwaris! Bengalis are snobs and argumentative. And the gibes continue, engulfing almost everybody!

We feel so proud and superior that we mock and make fun of anyone who is even slightly different from us. Yes we are xenophobic, bias and chauvinist and full blown RACISTS!!!

Life is tough in India being an Indian!
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