Surviving the stereotypes
Getting out of your comfort zone is the very first step of discovering the real you. I was given that golden chance or so I wanted one badly, right after I graduated and also I am easily bored. The impatient wait for my call letter drove me crazy. But the day came, when I was asked to join. I was intently, hoping that I will be going to Chennai. That was my destination to start off with the entire get-outta-the-comfort-zone journey. But the universe had other plans for me. The call letter flashed the name “Navi Mumbai”. I clearly remember the day. I stepped out of my home with my mom to go shopping; my friend called as I was descending the stairs to the gate. His voice was frantic. “Shruthi, check your mail immediately, the Whatsapp group of LnT is bombarded with your college members message saying you have got your call letter.” I thanked him and hung up the phone. With all my facial expressions my mom knew. Moms have the super-power of finding anything that’s going on with you, I tell you. She rushed to the door to unlock right ahead of me and switched on the WiFi. I was fretting, nervous, excited, all the collywobbles started churning my stomach from inside; heart-beat rate – immeasurable. I kept refreshing my G-mail inbox. 1.. 2.. 3… There! Got 3 emails. With the prayers and deep expectations I was looking forward to the word “Chennai” in the email. Alas. It was “Navi Mumbai” instead. The call letter email flashed the wrong word. Tears started to well up. My mom was jumping in joy instead. She said, “3 months in Mumbai are going to be an adventure for you, why you crying? Wipe them off and let’s go shopping now”. Well, I somehow made up my mind that, it’s going to be only 3 months and to deal with all sorts of encumbrances that comes in my way of finding myself.
Long story short, I have been in Mumbai for one and a half years now. It has kept me happy. Well, most of the times, but the dealing of encumbrances that I vouched to myself? Well, I have been only passive-aggressive in terms of dealing with it. It is good for the people I always surround myself with, or so I think.
The thing is, many people mistake me to be a Non-South Indian (I could have put it in the usual way people think who is, when someone is from another place than Mumbai, but I don’t want to give in to their way of putting things.) because of my name, my complexion and my Hindi accent. You think I feel proud when they do that? No. Not even in heaven’s hell! I realized, being me is a part of also defending my roots. But I didn’t know until I got out of my state, where you come from is used to define who you are. I mean, really? How that gets to do with who I am? Putting this madness aside, other typical stereotypes. Such as?
- Food habits: People, yo people who aren’t from Tamilnadu! Hi. Yes, I love rice. Got a problem? When I don’t have a problem with you having chappathi EVERY SINGLE FREAKING DAY, why would you have a problem with me having rice every day? I am tired of answering, “yes, I like rice.” I have rice because that FILLS UP MY STOMACH! I eat to feel full. I don’t need to eat for you. Should I? Heck no. Just because you see only me consuming rice doesn’t mean the whole of Tamilnadu only eats rice. 1!=100! Would you eat rice every day if you are made to live in Chennai and give up eating chappathi? I hear your mind voice “no” straight up! So deal with it. DO NOT judge me when you are already in the same trail stand and eligible for the same prejudice. I miss my freaking home, I miss my land’s food and I might have several inexplicable reasons that I do not want to say.
- Geography Masters: Boy, how do I even begin this? When I say I am from Tamilnadu, you ask me, “Where in Tamilnadu?”. I will appreciate answering that question honestly. But do not ask, “Chennai?” Chennai!=Tamilnadu. We have 32 districts. There cannot be a possibility that ALL THE SOUTH INDIANS that you know are from Chennai ONLY. By the way, Pondicherry is near TAMILNADU, a union territory. Not a state. I hope I made it clear.
- “Introverted”: All South Indians aren’t shy or introverted. We have a handful of extroverts too. Characteristics are rooted from genes, not from where they are BORN or BROUGHT UP! So, the next time you say, “South Indians are too shy and it is difficult for them to get along”, watch out. Because you are making it hard for us even if we want to mingle with you guys.
I will illustrate it. I am being invited for lunch, with me as a sole person being a non-native speaker. What do you do? Converse in English. Yes, I understand Hindi. I talk a bit too. But Marathi? There is no necessity for me to learn it. When you are ill-mannered enough to talk in Marathi when you have a non-native speaker with you, knowing that she knows Hindi and can understand the same, you expect her to get along with you? That’s like, making a person who doesn’t know swimming, remove the lifebuoy and swim in an ocean with a bunch of people who knows swimming. The lifebuoy being the broken hindi.
- The miscellaneous stereotypes such as commenting on a South Indian’s dressing, one’s inability to say yes to boozing, smoking, clubbing and judging he/she is old-school and isn’t modern, all these, goes without saying. There are more, but I personally came across only these. Guess there’s more to it than just these.
You people need help. How? Get out of YOUR comfort zone and live in Chennai or Banglore. I bet you wouldn’t dare to do that. Until then, you wouldn’t know even a teensy bit of what they go through in the process of fulfilling their dreams/goals, their responsibilities shouldered on behalf of their family, living in the moment – enjoying life at the same time. If you cannot and are not ready to even think of doing this, then don’t judge a person who has come to live in your place far away from where his roots are, just to ridicule/prejudice him/her. It only creates sour memories to remember how the people treated him/her even when he/she enjoyed living in your place. This rant doesn’t stand for the one who is willing to explore outside one’s comfort zone. Try to be empathetic and compassionate. If you cannot, SHUT UP. Because, silence can do wonders. Despite all these, I still live here. It would be a lie if I said I hadn’t thought of going back to my home because of all these, once and for all. But hey, would not that make me, you?