Tuesday, June 17, 2014

That South Indian Biyooty

Disclaimer: This post is not directed at any group, community, person or ethnicity. It is a rebuttal to all that I, as a person has undergone in the past couple of months. I am venting out my emotions and at the same time, the realization that I would not have encountered all this, had I stayed put in my own hometown.

To all of you who think South Indians can only be Sowth Yindiyans, here is what I have to say. I am a south Indian, I agree, but before that, I am a Tamilian. I speak the language called TAMIL. Not Andu Kundu. Just like your language 'Kai poche', which is Gujarati, by the way, I at least know. And oh, I want to really, really criticize your brilliant judgement skills, I'm calling it brilliant, boss, so please read on.

If I eat vegetarian food, I am a Gujarati, if I don't, people pounce on me with this question of 'Aren't you a South Indian?' Yes, I am. But not all south Indians are non-vegetarians, bro. So they ask me about my caste. First. So, I have to, have to let them know. If I tell them I am a Brahmin, then there I get, this Oh-so-you-are-a-from-a-strict-Brahmin-household-that-doesn't-let-you-eat-non-vegetarian-food- look. I have to then clarify. I do not eat non-vegetarian food, much by choice. I'm a vegetarian, by CHOICE, just the way you CHOOSE to not drink at a party. Understood ah?

When people hand me a drink, they expect me to dip my thumb, index finger and middle fingers in it, take it out, sprinkle some of the drink on the table, close my eyes, mutter a few mantras for 'cheers' and then take a gulp. Boss, get a grip on life, we do certain things, yes, but not everywhere and not for everything. Don't the women in your community offer water to the Moon when it is Karwa Chauth? Why can't they do it everyday? It becomes meaningless, right? and oh, I get it, they can't fast! What are you talking ya :P

 If I eat with my hands I am a south Indian, if I don't, then south Indians don't know how to eat Chappati. Wow. Ever heard of Idli and Dosa? No, just asking :) 

So, 'apparently' my name is Swathi, so it is Swattthhhhi, as in the Hindi letter थी. So, they, take great happiness in calling me स्वाथी, which, by the way, is very annoying. It literally translates to ' Swa' 'was'. So, I stop, turn around and begin explaining. After a big explanation round, it just goes back to them not understanding it, at all. I just want to ask you guys, are you all so dumb? Like, really? Google is a better friend, at least it helped me choose these letters to make you understand what I want to say! 

This is the best of the lot : when I speak English, 'She can't speak Hindi yaar, so English'. Well now, I give a dirty look and switch to Hindi and the very same words are repeated 'Arrey, she can't speak Hindi yaar.' Now, tell me now, what on earth should I do in such a situation? Can I just pull you by the collar and give you a tight slap? No, I avert those thoughts. I stare back at the computer monitor, much in disgust. Thankyouverymuch, I needed that, macha.

Wait, I am not done yet. As and when my mind, mood and emotions permit, I will decide if I have to continue this post or not. But before that, I need to narrate another incident. I sip my tea and stare at a sheaf of worksheets in the landscape format, all of them waiting to be filled. Exactly when I am about to press my pen to the paper, a girl urgently walks up to me, looks at me wearing Vibooti on my forehead, points to that and asks 'so, you wear a Vibooti, that means you are a Tamilian, who is from Karnataka. So, you speak Mallu, right?' First, it is Malayalam. Secondly, 'Mallu' is a term given to people who are Malayalees. I look at her and utter these words, '
Well, that's like looking at a Rajasthani, ASSUMING he/ she is from Calcutta and asking him/her if they speak Punjabi in their hometown.' I look back into my worksheet and continue writing. The girl looks offended and walks away. As if that statement of hers about me wasn't offending enough. Face palm to (the North Indian) Humanity.

Yenyway, this is to all the clichéd people, the UNCALS (north Indians don't say 'uncle', they say 'unCAL'), AUNTY JIS, REAL BROTHERS (yes, REAL refers to your 'own' sibling in 'their English'), FAKE SISTERS and to all the South Indians who know how to pronounce what, and to the others, like me who are all of this, hoping to break free of these stereotypes and live a harmonious, yet individualistic life. Yes, individualistic, not huddled within communities.