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Archive for the ‘Stereotype’ Category

Opened and Dissected Letter to a fellow Indian

It is sad that it took a bitter and badly written post to revive a blog which was in coma for a while. But I guess sometimes you need the right kind of emotion to bring you back from hiding. This is in response to this post. It has created frenzy all over the blogo-sphere. And well read it here if you haven’t already. And here are my responses are in red.

Dear Delhi boy,

Namaskaram from the South of India, or as you may like to believe, the countries south of the Vindhyas.

-Dear South Indian girl (since Ghetto-ising isn’t really my style, I shall refrain from calling you Madrasan),

Good evening from… well, an Indian. I usually am against being racist, because frankly I’m left with very few options, after being a part of so many cultures, and belonging to so many places having an army dad. And just to make things straight, I am part Punjabi, the rest of me I shall get to later.

I came to your city 2 years ago with a brand new job and a bucketload of expectations. My friends and family here thought I was completely insane to choose Delhi over more female conducive cities like Bangalore or even Bombay. I am very sad to report that your reputation of being an ignorant, chauvinistic oaf with the intelligence levels of an autistic 3 year old on crack precedes you and it hurts me even more to admit to this rather accurate description.

-First of all, I’m sorry about the fact that despite your desperate attempts to make Delhi-ites hate your kind, I still love South Indians. Some of my closest friends are South Indian, and even after reading your post, I still wouldn’t ‘generalise’ and look at them with suspicion, despite you completely reinforcing the unjustified stereotype against your kind. I’m sorry to report that I still haven’t lost faith in your kind despite this statement being exaggerated and downright derogatory to children with special needs.

Your reputation has travelled far and wide, to countries outside South India as well. And believe me man, it is not a pretty situation. I understand that your stone faded, ripped jeans, your V-neck cleavage showing t-shirts that reveal to the world that you have infact inherited your mother’s voluptuous shaved Punjabi bosom, are what you think maketh a man, but it does not. It only maketh for a man who gets a pity license to share his girlfriend’s bra. I write to you as a woman who has been brought up in a society free of any discrimination towards women so thanks to you, my living in Delhi is as safe as Hugh Hefner’s playmate of the year living in Jeddah.

-I understand how you feel. It is but natural that an age-old Indian fetish for breasts surfaces now and then. Quoting most psychology texts, the things we notice most in the opposite sex are the ones deficient in us. It happens. I don’t blame you at all. As for your society honey, at least I have the freedom of wearing shorts to college without being judged.

You meet me at a friend’s birthday, talk to me about nightclubs and your new SUV and when I look like I’m in desperate need of a barf bag, you think I have an attitude problem. I understand this completely. But let me remind you that I am from SOUTH INDIA and not SOUTH DELHI, so no ,I am not scrawny, I am not fair, I don’t have straight hair and my topics of conversation go beyond the Fendi I saw in last month’s Vogue.

-So Miss Southie, at least women here are allowed to nightclubs and not shoved out of them by some moral brigade trying to supposedly ‘save our culture’. Women in fact are welcomed into nightclubs with no cover charge. I do like Fendi, Gucci, or even flee market apparel, and at least I have the freedom to openly lust for them without being judged.

I am olive-skinned, have lower –back-length lustrous cascading tresses that sometimes make me look like I fell out Jim Morrison’s tour bus. Got a problem with that? Well just suck it up coz I was born into a society where a woman can whoop your Punjabi patoutie to pulp.

-So you want to be accepted for your self-degrading description of what I would have otherwise called beautiful, but cannot accept a man with a single physical flaw. Do I see hypocrisy here?

While your mother pretends to be very progressive but still cows down to the whims of her husband every single time, mine on the other hand was born into a matriarchal home where every single possession is in the rightful name of the girl child. Could you ever, my hunky handsome, cash throwing pig, imagine this kind of power in your society? So stop telling me that women are not treated like trash where you come from. Just shut up and admit to it. It’s just easier that way. And lest we forget that we’ve managed to curtail the number of rape cases despite not having a female Chief Minister. Amma ‘s body composition generates way too much heat for her get out of her AC room anyway, so don’t even bring that up.

-Congratulations for being born where you have, but I’m still not going to stoop down to your level and generalize. Both my parents are emancipated to the core. More than your society could ever imagine being. Despite my mother earning more than my dad I still live in peace and harmony and have the freedom to have a boyfriend (and for that matter even girlfriend) from anywhere in the world and openly discuss about him at the dining table.

And your English. Good Lord, what in the world is up with that? I don’t want you to ‘explain me’ anything. It’s like you need to go to primary school all over again. And call them your parents, not your ‘peerents’ or what your cooler, more happening brethren call them—‘mere mom-dad’. Like what are they? Conjoined twins? Are they joined at the hip?

-So how old are you? 5? Anyone can call their parents whatever they like till the time they’re given due respect, you have absolutely no right to point fingers at people’s existence being from an incestuous wedlock.

Your South India counterparts may not have your looks, but are way more mentally stimulating, a quality that eludes you obviously, but has been the single most sexy factor for us Southie chicks since the age of five.

-Why do you seem so apologetic about the looks you possess? Because what looks like a desperate attempt at being a ‘dark and proud people’, you come across as someone with a deeply embedded inferiority complex. Seriously, be proud of the way you are. And I mean genuinely.

I mean once again, who can blame you? You were brought up on Gurdas Mann and the heroic deeds of Devinder Singh Bhullar and the ever so fair concepts such as elections in Phugwada while we mere ‘black-colour waale’ mortals had to make do with Bharatnatyam classes, M.S Subhalakshmi and chess. Shame no?

-Just because Bharatnatyam started somewhere near where you live does not mean you’re the only ones who possess it, North India is flooded with people and institutes which teach Bharatnatyam. To top that we even have a wide variety of other dance forms to choose from. We have Kathak, Jazz, Ballet, Hip-Hop, and so on, and of course Bhangra and Gidda, which mind you need so much energy, you’d need to be the human version of the Duracell bunny to give a 10 minute performance in them. And as for chess… we just choose to lie low and channelize our energies into lesser sports like… well hello? Those are sports nonetheless, it doesn’t matter!

And yes, if by a slight chance, you do find my big dancer eyes attractive enough for you to prolong our conversations and meetings and if by an even slighter chance you fall in love with me and decide to marry me, you will have to wear a mundu and you will have to lie prostrate shirtless at the Guruvayurappan temple.

-You are a tad confused lady. Despite this whole supposedly witty and totally-not-exaggerated rant about the men of my kind, you still have hopes of marrying them? If any of the Delhi men do want to marry you, they would gladly bare it all and wear a mundu if needed.

A small price to pay for all the genuine independence I am giving up for you. And that’s the real thing, not what you see the Delhi girls at LSR and Stephen’s doing during their fake as hell protest marches coz ultimately they’re going home to a family who’re putting together money for Bobby beta’s bail coz he just ran over his girlfriend’s ex, by mistake of course.

-Woah! This is where I get vicious honey. I cannot help it if you were too busy trying your ass off to get into IIT and in the bargain did not get in and with the marks you obtained in an attempt to focus more on entrances you didn’t get accepted in some of the MOST prestigious colleges in the country where most people would give up a limb to get into. ‘Sour grapes’ is the best way I can describe this. At least the Delhi girls from LSR handle a break-up in a more dignified way than this. Oh and if not IIT you could probably try nursing school you’d blend right in (Yeah, how’s that for a stereotype? That’s how it feels).

I understand that I come from the land of ugly. I mean obviously Hema Malini, Sri Devi and Aishwarya Rai with their natural banal looks don’t even hold a candle to Priyanka Chopra after her two nose jobs and one lip reconstruction surgery. Not a chance in hell.

-Natural looks? I really pity your ignorance sweety but from a girl who is supposedly proud of her ‘South-Indian dark complexion’ it’s strange that every actress you have mentioned here is fairer than the other, not to mention the amount of tweaks and corrections their own faces have gone through. NO ONE, and I mean no one can ever look the way they do at their age without any correction at all.

But when you do come to ask for my hand, remember I am part Maharashtrian and part South Indian and NO, they are not the same thing. So please tell your family, not to drop racist bombs like “Arey woh sab toh ‘Sawth’ ke hi hote hai na?” And YOU—don’t walk up to mother in an attempt to make flattering conversation and say shit like “Aunty you don’t look like a South Indian You are so fair” In return she will verbally Texas chainsaw massacre your face so badly, your dead Dadi will haunt you the very same night, telling you how fleeing Pakistan was less traumatic. So don’t. Better still just don’t speak. Just glean and flex your muscles a little and keep smiling. Just whatever you do, don’t talk.

-Wow! You know if you just wanted to get married to a guy from Delhi so desperately, why didn’t you just say so instead of dropping subtle hints in a post where you’re simply trying to play hard to get? You could just talk to your family you know, they might just understand that you want to be with someone NON-South Indian. And of course since you invested so much of your precious time trying to crack IIT, I don’t blame you for lacking basic language skills, but let me tell you honey, there is a difference between being witty and being plain rude. Trivialising the trauma faced by people during partition is simply offensive and taking this too far. So yeah I guess it’s just better that you are not spoken to, because you’re simply not worth it.

You may not like our food, but then we don’t like you, which is worse. We may not be even that into food, but then that’s coz we have other things to do with our lives, like crack IIT or become writers, journalists, activists and do things that we are very passionate about. The South Indian woman has a voice and boy can she yell. So if you want to Sambhar ‘Chawl’ your way into my life, then you got to toe the line. Be way more aware than what your are.

-For your hatred towards food, I’d say, try spicing things up a little bit. And some sweet should do you good. At least it’ll make you a little less bitter. At least we could hope so. And as for South Indian food, there might just be more South Indian restaurants in Delhi than any other part of the country and they’re mostly located in the Punjabi dominated areas of Delhi because Punjabis love nothing more than a family of ten and some Rawa Masala Dosas.

Remember Delhi is not a country and we are not Black. If I ever hear you utter that name of that colour, I will Kalaripayattu your tongue out of your rear. Yes , that is the secret behind our awesome sex ratio. Just so you know.

-Yes Delhi isn’t a country. But it sure is more inclusive than any other part of the country and yeah, Delhi is NOT in Punjab. Please get your facts right or else it won’t be long before someone from the operation blue star lineage performs a Gatka on you (And again, that’s exactly how it feels).

For someone who is so confident of his physical abilities you really suck at luring an intelligent woman. Don’t send me text messages that say ‘happy guru purab’, you freakshow and if you want to be cute with your ever so charming (not) Punjabi advances, then don’t send texts that say “Dil laye gayee kudi Madrraaas di”! NO. It’s just not cool man.

-And again sweety, there is a difference between being witty and being plain racist. Is it that you have a problem with all occasions where normal human beings get a reason to feel happy or is this just a special case? And who are you to define what’s cool? I’m not even going to comment on that, ‘cause you’re just not worth it.

I may have have missed on a lot in this letter, but that’s ok because you’ll forget to read it and even if you do , you’ll get your cousin Jassi from Defence Callonny to translate it for you. And this letter can’t go on forever like the Punjabi male ego.

-It’s funny how you talk about ego when all you’ve done in this letter is tried way too hard to nurse your badly hurt ego.

So long my love, and here’s two steps of gidda just for you, just to show that I can be traditional and will not accidently kick your sister while doing so.
Love, hugs, kisses aka ‘muah’ (only I shall ‘muah’, you please don’t do anything coz you tend to forget that these are my lips and not a piece of Tandoori Chicken from Kakke- Da- Dhabba)

-As for the ‘muah’… do try some passionate kissing sometime. It’ll soften you up and lessen the frustration.

(Only I can call myself that. If you EVER call me by this name, I will shove so many coconuts down your system that your little saver pack versions will begin to sprout coir.)

Yours truly,

Cosmopolitan Indian citizen studying at LSR

PS: And well about the other part of my identity? The other part of me is from the ‘North East’. And we get discriminated against more than you can ever think or dream of. But we’ve risen above all the petty arguments and learnt to celebrate differences. Because at the end of the day we’re all Indian, and it does not matter where we’re geographically located within the country.

I may have toed the line here and there, but trust me, I meant no offence to anyone other than you (the writer of the post) here. Frankly if in your place a Punjabi had written similar bitter words for a South Indian, it would’ve got me equally fired up.

Stereotyping and profiling can be fun to an extent, if taken in good humour, and yeah they’re a part of life. But with all the corn and cheese aside, every Khan is not a terrorist, every South Indian is not Madrasi, every Punjabi is not Sardar (every Delhi-ite is definitely not Punjabi)… oh the list is endless.

Please learn to take a setback in life in good spirit and stop blaming an entire geographical area for what you may have been through. The last person who did that had all his (Nazi) glory in his time, but no one sees him in good light today.



















Auto Diaries (Part II)-Don’t judge a book by its cover.

This one’s not about travelling in the auto. Not even about the auto itself. But just about the universal fact, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ reinforced.

My friend V and I were travelling in my car to The American Centre near CP. As, we both are condemned to be forever ‘directionally-challenged’ we had no clue where to go when we were half way through, floating around the road to Janpath (Geography may not have been one of our best for the both of us in school). A lost and confused bunch that we were (Me, V and the driver), we were asking for directions helter-skelter. None of which, really helped as such.

It finally took us ten minutes to find a helpful auto-driver by the road, who looked like he could make sense of our whereabouts to us. At once I made the driver stop, and rolled down my window. I made a gesture as if I were calling out to him, and said, “Bhaia, American centre kaise jaana hai?” (How do we get to American Centre?). The auto driver stepped out of the auto, and came up to our car.

After he reached the co-driver seat window, he said, “Would you like to go in my Rickshaw, or do you need directions?” (mind you, he said all this in pure, grammatically correct English with perfect diction!!). This was one of those times me and V felt our  jaw drop spontaneously. There was a pause for a few seconds before I mentally shook myself after what I had just heard. And finally when I did get out of the miniature trance, I meekly said, “Can we please have just the directions?”

At once he promptly replied, “Now see, you have to go straight till you spot the first signal, and then from there…” when I interrupted (still in the lingering state of miniature trance), and pointing towards my driver, I said, “Umm.. Can you please explain it to him in Hindi?”.

It took me some time to carry out that interruption as well. Me and V were still giving each other the dumbfounded looks, with the embarrassed smile.

He finished explaining to my driver and I finally, truly and wholeheartedly, said thank you and smiled till it reached my ear. To which, I received a spontaneous, “My pleasure!” from him.

As we drove passed, V and I couldn’t avoid thinking about it. We still couldn’t believe what had just hit us. It’s amazing how we’re so quick to judge and place people in these little brackets known as ‘stereotypes’. Thinking about it further, if it weren’t for that little monster known as stereotype, the auto driver talking in English would have just been, though uncommon, but such a normal thing, and instead of getting temporary mental paralysis, we would’ve acted like civilized human beings and been normal. Because of the mental picture we had in mind about them, we could never imagine it even being an actuality.

This day today taught me, (and very well at that) that under absolutely no circumstances, should we ever judge a book by its covers. And we, as petty human beings have no right whatsoever to put others into brackets that ‘society’ apparently laid out for them.

There’s a place in ‘Stereotype-hell’ reserved for me.

I saw this awesome post by IHM, titled Sinners against gender stereotyping.
And here are my set of sins. Some day I shall go to stereotype hell for them. 😛
My sins against gender stereotyping:
1. I am a foodie and love being called one. And I even love talking about food and trying out new cuisines (exotic meat included).
2. I am NOT scared of cockroaches and lizards! They’re as harmless as can be.
3. I love rock music (excluding heavy metal).
4. I have a thing for technology and gadgets. And I know how to operate them.
5. I can screw a light-bulb and hammer a nail!
6. I adore dogs. To an extent that I consider them more human.
7. I can drive, replenish the battery-fluid, and even change a flat tyre.
8. I prefer shorts to skirts. ANYDAY.
9. I don’t like lipsticks. Any cosmetic would do. But lipsticks repel me!
10. I can even open up electronics, fix them and put them back together. (And I’m not doing engineering).
11. I am not scared of the dark (though I possess the humanly trait of getting freaked by horror movies).
12. I can play cards and I sometimes even gamble with family during Diwali.
13. I can whistle!
14. I laugh like a monster when I find something really funny and often come up with my own jokes.
15. I love bikes (though I can’t ride them- I still love them).
16. I am aware of and can discuss about politics.
17. I can’t cook to save my life (or probably just enough to save my life).
18. I love dinosaurs. They fascinate me.
19. I don’t cry in front of people unless it’s a HUGE deal.
20.I dislike gossip and eves-dropping.
21. I detest soap-operas.
22. I can read maps!
23. I love playing video games. Especially ones which involve cars and guns.
24. Mess is my soulmate. I need my workspace to get messy for me to function. And i hate it when people tell me that my messy room is so ‘un-lady-like’ of me.
And though I’m a proud sinner against gender stereotyping, I also love teddy bears, romantic movies, the rain, love songs, shopping, shoes, kajal, babies, the colour pink, chocolates, jewellery and I love to bake.
I am proud to be who I am.