The other day I was watching Chak De, yeah yeah the Shahrukh Khan starrer which introduced us to “Women's Hockey”. It also proved that Shahrukh Khan can play a better role where he doesn’t have to open his arms in the air, or dance in sarso ke khet. It was a good watch. I quite enjoyed the scene when the players are introducing themselves with their names followed by the names of their respective states, pissing off their new coach, our Hero. He finally makes them realize how they are representing a country and not a state anymore. Quite bollywood I must say. Nonetheless, the movie was such a break from some non sense movies that bollywood has been shoving down our throats, off late. Par real life mein aisa hota hai kya? I doubt.
If you are an Indian and are living in a state/place/city away from your hometown (which may also be a place where you originally don’t belong to) you must have at least come across one of these statements in your lifetime.
1. Our city was far far better before “outsiders” crowded it.
2. The city was cleaner before, thanks to the “outsiders” who make it dirty.
3. You “outsiders”, you live in our city, take away our jobs, and show us attitude.
4. Oh! God the pollution has increased, thanks to “outsiders”.
And my most favourite, "these outsiders live in our city and abuse it too." J I have heard this one umpteen number of times. There is no exhaustive list; it can go on and on. We Indians, always try to find an easy way out. And the easiest thing to have ever been done is “Blame”. We blame the govt, the neighbor, the auto driver, the man driving next to you, the school teacher, the paper wala, doodhwala, the domestic help, the spouse, the in laws and the kids too, sometimes that inanimate table and chair too. I have started refraining from Facebook these days because it has become a strong medium of people to blame each other. And I am guilty too. I am sure sometime in my career as Facebookian (that’s a new term), I must have also blamed someone. Sad!
Thankfully, I don’t carry the guilt of calling someone an outsider, directly or indirectly. I have been sane enough to refrain from that. My soul doesnt carry the heavy burden of being a racist. Thank goodness for Maa Baap ke sanskaar or gurujaon ka asshirwaad. ;) (That’s what one of my aunt says when I do something that she considers right.) J
So what is that I am trying to say? Simple, I want to understand who is an outsider in India and who is an insider? Going by the current trend and tides, I understand that anyone who is not a local is an outsider. Insider is the one who speaks the local language, who belongs to a community that for generations has known to be from that particular city, who has a particular last name, etc etc. If not then, you better accept that you are outsider. No debates. No no it doesn’t matter if you share a bond with the place, or if you love the city more than home, or if you are working your best to make it a better place, or if you are a law abiding citizen. Told you right, it just doesn’t matter. You are an outsider and that’s it. Sorry to break your bubble but I just can't help it.
The first time someone called me an outsider, I cried buckets, sobbed like someone had snatched my identity. It was like someone invited me to feast on yummy rasgullas and then all I was served was long, green, spicy chillies. Okay, bad example but that’s exactly how I felt. The spice was so strong that I can still feel a tinge on my tongue, sometimes okay most of the times.
How could they call me an outsider? I growled. I am an Indian, and I am living in India. This is my right. My constitution gives me the right to do so. But who was I fighting with? With my own people. They were mine. Their passports were made in “India”. Their identity to the exterior world was that of an Indian. They spoke a language that so many other Indians spoke. They were the same crazy people who thronged the streets when India grabbed the world cup. They were the same people I walked with silently holding a candle in my hand when a daughter of my country was violated. They were the same people who took matters in their hands when the city I live in needed help to preserve its lakes, its heritage. Yet! I was an outsider. I was slapped with it on my face or punched hard.
And mind you, I am not talking about the “uneducated-ganwaar-anpadh log”. Here I was with the “elite - literate - class - padhe - likhe - log" who thought so. In fact very recently someone told me that “they are the most down to earth and easy people to live with”. No denying that however saying that we are better than the rest sucks. However, what can you do to correct it? For ages we have been programmed to believe that we are the best. See, all our states are divided based on the languages of the masses; our politicians have enforced a culture which glorifies a particular language and demeans the other. People kill each other in the name of language, religion, caste, creed, community etc etc. Sadly, we are still following that. We are refusing to look at the world with open eyes and an open heart. We have toiled so hard to eradicate casteism from our country which specifically meant that the so called higher caste people are better than the ones in the so called lower caste. But then we are still stuck with our differences. When will we learn to celebrate our differences? So much for our Prime Minister’s “Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat” campaign.
I also know of people who live in developed cities and make fun of the no so developed people and the states. Then, how on earth can we progress as a nation? Then how the hell are we different from these so called politicians who make use of divisive politics for their ulterior motives? And then we sulk ki India aisa kyun hai? I don’t want to get preachy; please it is not my forte ;) All I know is that no individual is known or rather should not be known by his religion, caste, creed, or community. They don’t choose it. They are just born there. But this little thing is tough to be accepted by many.
So, finally I have gracefully accepted it and silently snubbed the logical Indian that lived inside me. So if now people call me an outsider I smile and say THANK YOU. Thank you to make me realize, we still have a long way to go. Thank you to make me understand that mere education cannot open the minds of certain individuals. Thank you for opening my eyes to the sad state of affairs in my own nation…Thank you, now I know that when I bring up my kids what I shouldn’t teach them. Thank you, so much. I also call some of these “we are the better community” or “we are better people” Morons in my head multiple times. This is racism, crystal clear.
Hey, I was just thinking how does it work in inter caste or inter community marriages? Perhaps, this insane thinking that “we are the better breed” kills so much of love in the society. And how would couples in love from different communities address each other? Something like, “O my wife- from- the -better community, what’s up for dinner? Or, Oh! My “best- language-in-the-world-speaking –husband” let us go for a movie. Seriously? J
R and I speak different languages, belong to different communities. Thankfully we were sane enough to love our differences too. Did I tell you, my mother in law is a bong and she addresses me as “mei” in Bangla. I know of so so so many Indians who have developed love for a language foreign to them. I know of Indians who love feasting on dishes that are prepared in communities different from theirs. And I know of friendships which have stood the test of time, irrespective of their differences. Such people restore my faith in humanity, in Indians. In fact both my best friends speak languages that I don't know. One is a Bong and the other is a Kannadiga. They have showered so much love on me in spite of the differences in our culture and language. I believe, some love needs to be injected in the society. We have a lot more to learn from our movies than just the songs, sigh!
This topic is quite stressful; trust me. I suggest, let us breathe deeeeeeeeply and relax. Time for some good news.
India's shining star - the unbreakable, Mary Kom has won gold again for India. Ah! Such a proud moment for India, for her, for her family, and for all of us, isn’t it?
Oh! By the way does she belong to your state or community or does she speak your language? ;)
So from an Outsider (I am not from Manipur) to an Insider (she represented India and not just Manipur) a hearty congratulations to you, Mary! You go girl, go conquer the world! More power to you.