In my early 20’s life threw a curve ball and just like that I was displaced from the comfort of my home to a far flung area ,, in the foothills of Himalayas .
I never cared about how I dressed , how my hair looked like and makeup,,,, was a zero or a NULL ( in technical language 😉 ) !!!! . In fact I was branded as reserved , weirdo and so on,,,,. Those were the days when one and only one thing just chewed up my brain ,,, TO make a MARK …. Yes , you heard it right.
Things remained this way until one day ,,, I was sitting on a corner chair and waiting for my dinner to be served in Officer’s canteen. A fine old gentleman was sitting diagonally opposite to me along with his young assisstant. After exchanging a few pleasantries he just shot a bullet ,,, ” You being an South Indian eat Rice all day , How come you haven’t lodged any complaint about the being served Roti’s here ? ” .. I was just struck by a lightning bolt . Then came another bullet ” South Indians drink coffee , why do u prefer tea ? ” . This young fella was smiling viciously at me and threw a disgusting look at my 4meter wide shawl hung around me like a willowing tree . Ok ,, I was now trying to control my urge to break the fine borosilicate glass into two and smash it onto his face . 😉 Although it never happened , missed that soul gratifying action 🙂
I belong to a part of India where climate is different so is the kind of food ,, just so that it can be in sync with mother nature . That doesn’t mean we are rice guzzling elephants or SAMBAAR drinking demons . This gentleman’s remarks turned my intestines inside out .
I learned the local culture , mastered Hindi language in more than 4-5 dialects , changed my dresses to jeans and t-shirts , applied makeup , never ever asked for south-indian items on the menu when I went out with colleagues or friends . All the Mondays, Thursdays fastings were followed like the other unmarried girls of North India , peeled away my bindi ( which is unauspicious way down south ) . Every miniscule detail changed ,,, YES thats all , and ,, I justified myself by saying “WHEN IN ROME BE A ROMAN ” . Eventually I have become a person that… Unless until a person I met becomes detective on my background ,, he could never ever get a hint that I don’t belong to the place i.e the northern belt ,, where the gorgeous Ganges flows .
This innings ,, sort of continued even when I changed cities . I had just become the sponge imbibing everything which came along my way ,,, to prove myself ,,, u will ask me ,, to prove WHAT ??? . I didn’t wanted to be BOXED . I wanted to make friendships, aquaintances beyond and above my brand. I wanted be identified as a person ,,, YES an individual with an independent brain and soul. This all vanishes away as soon as the exclamation props up ” Huhhh u r from south India ” .
AND NOW ,,, in #Shahrukhkhan style I have just opened my arms ,, threw away my reservations out of the window. 🙂 . I am myself again , dishing out my mom’s age old recipes , learning hymns , mythologies , and folk stories intertwined with my native language . Shocked ??? , right 🙂 , my kiddo is the trigger .
When my mom used to say that “I learnt along with you , on the road of nurturing” ,,, I wondered what she meant !!!!! . I have just begun to understand her words these days.
My son asked me the difference between two commonly used words in my native language ,,,, I was dumbstruck ,,,,,…. These are the most commonly used words and never crossed my mind to understand them .
Yes Kids ,, do wonders to our lifestyles ,, their out of box thinking swindles us more than in many ways we can imagine.
Now I m proud of the lineage I belong to , a clan of academicians who boasts in collecting rare precious books than anything else. Now I don’t go on explaining to each and everyone the difference between a “PANDIT ” and a “BRAHMIN” . You know I sort of grew up ,,, 😉 ,,, Ohh no not OLD ( hahahaha!!)
It’s extremely difficult to fight Stereotypes , South Indians are this ,, East Indians are that , Gujarati’s are this and what NOT . I guess people can’t grow beyond this ,, hollow inside ,, glitter outside.
Still today I face many harsh words and heart pinching insults about the region I belong to ,, but now I do laugh in my inside ” Fools , u just can’t compete with me ,, I saw the world and experienced it in ways you can’t imagine and YOU are the frogs in a well ” .