A punjabi guy , let me give him a name , Jeetu , was disseminating great wisdom on how to categorize Indians to a group of new recruits . He drew a map of imaginary India with his hands in air . It appeared like Rhombus to me which was fatter at middle .
Let me reproduce his actual dialogues , which were in hindi .
Jeetu said “ यहाँ देखो भाईयों , यह INDIA का मेप है | सबसे ऊपर कश्मीरररररर उसके नीचे Punjaaaaabb | बाकी सब South INDIA ” in his heavily accented punjabi voice.
/* Translation :: “ My dear brothers , this is India’s map . On the top is Kashmir , below it is Punjab. Everything else is South India ” */
Unfortunately I was in that group , standing slyly listening to all this crap . I envisioned in my mind as if I have raised my hand and slapped strongly on his white cheek .After a while laughed silently at the vision of his cheek swelling ten times than his other cheek in my vision.
After a long lecture on how to classify Indians as North Indians and South Indians , he turned towards me , smiled a bit and said ” you are a U.P ( Uttar Pradesh ) girl , u don’t have any idea about South Indians , isn’t it ?? ” . Now this time I was awe-struck .I shook my head and revealed my real identity .
He tried in vain to convince me by saying that he likes Rajnikanth and Idaly Saambhar ( I can never understand why does all South Indians are branded as Madrasis ) . His subsequent attempts to woo me flowed down the drain like a helpless paper boat .
Like all other girls instead of going on a shopping spree , I just love to watch the gleaming windows decorated with flood lights which waste half of the electricity generated in INDIA .
On one chilly winter afternoon I was standing outside a big showroom gazing at the window decorated with lehengas ( bride’s dress in North India ) . A sales guy started tailing my back repeating and re-repeating all the kinds of new varieties available at this shop . After a while vexed by my indifference he said ” Madamji , just for once try this new type of Lehenga , you will be an adorable beautiful U.P ( Uttar Pradesh ) bride ” , unconsciously I said ” What ?????? ” . He said ” Yes Madamji , your bridegroom will become spellbound when he will see you in this dress” . I just ran away with head on heels vowing to myself that I will never visit to that shop and even ti that street again .
Luckily or unluckily , despite of working in North India , I have never faced any discrimination racially or gender wise . Still , utterly to my surprise here I am robbed and stripped of my IDENTITY . I do belong to a certain state which is certainly not MADRAS , of course my state lies south to the Tropic of CANCER and doesn’t speak HINDI as official language . Above all south Indians are not charred to death by Sun to have dead black complexion , many of them are really fair and some milky white too .
Sometimes I wish to scream on top of my voice that we don’t eat IDALY SAAMBHAR everyday , which is by the way spelt and pronounced completely wrongly .
I really didn’t suffer from Identity crisis like the protagonist in Kiran Desai’s ” Inheritance of Loss ” . Here the case is on the opposite end of spectrum . My IDENTITY has been erased.
I have been stamped and given a brand new identity which is not mine . I could never understand why does this happen to me till date .
On my supposedly last journey from office to my hometown , a Ludhianvi girl was waiting to catch her train which was delayed by four hours , we got into conversation and gossiped about food , especially paneer , dresses , India’s political situation etc etc.
While bidding goodbye she asked me “Which state you belong to ? ” .
She was speechless when she heard my answer . She pinched herself and asked me again to confirm whether I wasn’t kidding . I said in affirmative and sticked to my original answer.
She replied back ” You look like a U.P ( Uttar Pradesh) or a Pahaari (native of hills) girl , I never thought you belong to THAT state ” .
Now , this time I didn’t feel like slapping , I got used to identity stripping or you can say IDENTITY ERASING . 🙂