Closet Regionalism

Uhm...What was it the last time?

Circa 1994:

Venue: Couch at my paternal grandmother’s home. My aunt was looking over a picture of mine in a family album and she said out of love “He, is so handsome like an amrikan .My mom blushed and I did not correct her. Partly because rarely do I get compliments as I was an infant terrible.

[15 years later.After genetics and puberty had taken their toll]

Circa 2010:

 Venue: A Chinese take away on the 18th cross. I was waiting for my food.

Cashier [Chinese] asked me “Are you a bangali [bangladeshi]?”.

Me: No

 Cashier: Where are you from?

Me: India

Cashier: What is the difference?

 Me: Oh, none at all. Like there is no difference between a Chinese and a Tibetan.

[Political sarcasm, did not work. sigh!]

Now let’s compare the two reactions between my aunt and the pesky cashier. The former compared me to a country which my country tries so hard to ape and the other not so much. I would have accepted a comment with glee if some one said “Oh, i thought you are European”. Because my stereo type of them is “Pretty good looking people” and i would be a bit disappointed if some one pointed at me and said “Look there an Indian”. There is every chance that I might be dissappointed as we did not play the guess game.

For a more relevant example i shall describe the turn of events in my college SIES.It is a south Indian institute. I being a [hard core] south Indian as identified by friends was constantly mocked and ridiculed for hailing from the nether parts of India. The irony was that most of the times this crap was thrown on me by friends who were south Indian themselves. And they were the folks who would say “I was born and brought up in mumbai, so i am not that kind of a south indian” so fast before you can say fetch. The idea of regional tolerance goes like this.

If I joke about your community, you must take it with a pinch of Nacl and appreciate my sense of humor. However if you were to mock comment about my public in MY LAND, ill kick your ass black and blue and cry wolf over regional profiling. And the logic to their sentiment more often than not is.

“Hey you cannot come into my land and mock about my people and it is unfair”. In truth it is unfair if you cannot take a joke on your community then better don’t mock others.Grow a pair.

Again I cannot insist this enough, I do not pledge my allegiance to any community or creed. So I am not pro-any community. Also I don’t believe in my community bestest philosophy. All I cry is a right for cynics like me to be given the right to mock everyone: P

Extend this attitude of myopic humor/tolerance to realms of religion, caste and creed and voila you have a keyhole view to a majority of Indian diaspora.

 There is a concept called traditional day, where folks dressed up in dhoti’s, lungis and madisars [saree]. There were a few who were in limbo mixed up metallica t shirts with pristine dhoti’s. [Hello rajiv]

They were the very folks who refused to be identified as a “southie”. The same guys who mocked my mp3 collection it had a lot of Tamil tracks, put “dhanesh likes idli without sambar” [Raghu, that was a good one J] as the screensaver on IT lab 😛 were parading in their finest garbs of hypocrisy. I went to the college dressed up as usual in tee and jeans. When they ganged me up and asked why I wasn’t wearing a dhoti. I said we dress in casuals in my home town; we are a “progressive” bunch.

Well again sarcasm never won me any friends. 

Now this is just an observation not any kind of delayed rebuttal or vendetta.  I hold a lot of my friends in high stead, but every one needs a hobby don’t they.

I am not parochial, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with identity; it is selective identity which amuses me. Go be a nazi or a member of ku klux klan for all I care.We expect all our regional values and cultures should be treated like exotic objects.

Stop back patting ourselves with superlatives such as “Our community is the most vibrant [north Indian], most intelligent [south indians/bengalis] and most brave [Punjabis] etc…For the the record what I mentioned above too is regional profiling. Not all south Indians are cerebrally gifted and not every dude in Punjab is hercules.

The truth is what holds sacred to us, need not be to others. As a south Indian to me,a few of our traditions are sacred and most are down right ridiculous. Who ever thought of celebrating their daughters Ahem-”coming of age”is a good idea.I sincerly pity the girls who went through the trauma.

Identity crisis lends your head very vulnerable. MTV is recruiting.

 ********************************************************************************************************************

Rebuttals for cliched comments:

  1. I am tolerant with all mockery as long as it is civil and I do not accept with your analogy.

              Me: Good, the post is not about you so stop getting offended.

     2. Why is mockery so important to you, can’t you be normal for once and enjoy the diversity which our country?

           Me: God wired me this way, the right to dissent is very important for me 😀

      3.  My community and my fellow people have done enough to the cause of society to make our country proud. So why should I think about the negatives that plague our society? Why can’t I focus on the positive?

           Me: Focus on the positive.

That is what a date rapist would say. I mean “honey it is right that I violently raped and abused you. But think of the nice dinner and that scotch we had earlier”. Introspection might not be pleasant on the eye, and it might not attact foreign interest.

BUT

Collective social conscience is what maintains the equilibrium between being progressive and being imperially obstinate.

– Self

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