My friend Prashant’s blogpost about North-South divide and racism prompts me to write this. In a country of so many different races, languages, food habits and religions, it is not un-common to find people complaining about not feeling welcome in a different land. Here are a few observations from my own experiences or my close friends’.
One thing where racism happens most often is language related. There are two aspects to it:
a) Ridicule of your language. People who only know single digit words in Bangla, start talking in Bangla: “Ki khabo? Rosogolla khabe? Jol khabe?”, the last question to ridicule that Bengalis “eat” everything – drinks included. At most times, I ignore this one, but if people persist, which happened one time, I had to point out that in formal Bangla there are four categories of food and eating: chew, suck, lick and drink; and only in modern spoken language, we “eat” (consume) edibles. Of course, my follow up question remains un-answered: “In hindi, you say sutta piyo. How do you drink sutta?” I don't think any language is superior or inferior to any other language, so it's not prudent to ridicule any language, especially when you don't know the language.
b) Ridicule of you speaking other language. Hindi is my third language as it is for many people in non-hindi speaking
Another thing that I think is wrong is type-casting. This is most evident in mainstream hindi movies. All Bengalis must be rosogolla eating, weak, and coward; all Sardars must be brave but foolish; all “South Indians” must speak in a funny tone wearing a folded lungi, and so on. In real life, I can recount the numerous times I have been branded as “North Indian” in
The generalization is ignorance at most times. Take food for example. South Indian food is Dosa and Idly with Sambar! Having sampled various cuisine myself throughout Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala, I can safely contradict this. The food habit of all four states is different, with obvious overlap of some foods. So, we don't need to classify everything to three types of food in
These are just a few examples of racism in our own country against our own country people. I am sure there are incidents like these happening everyday, everywhere. I don’t know what prompts these behavior: it could be ignorance, it could be complex (superiority), it could be lack of sensitivity. But I do believe, the situation can be improved. All we need to do is to be sensitive to others; forget the differences (cultural, physical appearance, language) and see how much is common; and most importantly, respect other cultures, religions and habits. That’s not too difficult, is it?