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Sunday, October 6, 2013

IDENTITY CRISIS

I owe this article to Dilli, dil se.

Thumb Rule: The views expressed in this article are targeted at the general majority of the collective population and doesn’t necessary imply to every individual.

It was almost five years back that I landed in the dilapidated New Delhi railway station as a simple, unpretentious and dark skinned ‘Madrasi’. The auto-rickshaw driver who drove me from the station to my lodging in ‘Khel Gaon’ asked me if I can speak Hindi when I pronounced the place as ‘K-hell-Gaa-On’. The next question he asked me when he sensed my poor Hindi communication skills was about which nation I belonged to. I was shocked and offended outright. Little did I know then that it was just a mere introductory expression  of a common social ideology attached to the place.

In the following years, I suffered a severe identity crisis for being raised in a different society where the social ideologies were poles apart as compared to that in Delhi. I was no longer a Chennaiite but a ‘Madrasi’ – The latter is how everybody from any of the Southern part of India is addressed by the majority in New Delhi.


INTELLECTUAL CRISIS

While I mostly found myself amidst ‘The Hindu' front page folks in Chennai, I was surrounded by the ‘Times of India’ page three folks in Delhi for the most part. I had a classmate in NIFT who notably told that Shri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee is the PM of India; I am talking about 2008 here.
Yes, you do find those well-informed open-minded people in Delhi, but the search is relatively difficult in a society where Bollywood and stereotypes are bigger source of wisdom as compared to books or news. I was introduced to what was 'supposedly' a famous Rajinikanth dialogue, “Anna Rascala Mind-It.” Poor city, the intellectual crowd is sorrowfully outcast by the louder ones with half-baked knowledge.

RELIGIOUS CRISIS

Religion has cast its curse at every nook-and-corner of our nation and its divisive consequences need no introduction. The city isn't religiously diverse and same is reflected in the statistics which reveals that Hinduism and its derivative religions make up to 91% of the total population as compared to 72%-85% in other metropolitan cities. Delhi was the first place where I met 'real' people with inclination towards the extremist ideologies of VHP and other ungodly senas in the nation.
Latest rule of religion that I discovered after relocating to New Delhi was that consumption of beef is apparently against Hinduism – something I was completely unaware of before. Even the non-vegetarians in Delhi don’t generally consume beef and one has to be really lucky to discover beef-steak served in a restaurant’s menu. Why can't we just worship plants instead and ban the consumption of plants?
As a rational atheist, my core ideologies and thoughts were questioned at every walk of life in a society where even dietary needs are judged and discriminated by religion.

CASTEIST CRISIS

While Indians in general are nosey and don’t understand ‘personal-space’, I was asked about my caste identity for the first time in my life; by a friend who just wanted to know me personally. Something I was only used to writing in official forms and records. He proudly announced that he belongs to Gupta community and wanted to know mine in return. I went speechless pondering over how significant can caste be or what difference could it possibly make between two friends.
The same friend would respectfully address a 'paan-wala' in neighbourhood as 'pundit ji' and would later poke fun at a fellow classmate as 'aadi-vaasi'.
After sixty plus years of independence, Indian government has successfully sheltered and protected the caste identities to grow and flourish for electoral gains.
Thanks to the likes of Periyar and Anna, most of the fellow citizens from Southern counterparts have shed caste names and replaced their surnames with father’s name or native place.
Now that paves way for,

NAME CRISIS

– What does ‘R V’ Purusothaman mean? What is your full name? What is your surname? Why don’t you have a surname? Yes, a Delhiite has most likely never heard of a patronymic name before in his/her life.

LINGUISTIC CRISIS

I spent my initial days in Chennai without the knowledge of Tamil. I have lived in Bangalore and was never really criticized for not speaking Kannada. I am presently living and travelling in-between Mumbai and Pune without knowing a word in Marathi. Though I've faced  problems all these cities when it comes to social interactions, my very linguistic identity was never questioned till I stepped in Delhi.
One of Delhi’s matchless and weirdest attribute was to tag the ability to converse in ‘Hindi’ with being an Indian. Unfortunately the Delhi clan will confidently broadcast their ignorance by self-proclaiming that Hindi is the national language of India! It is only when they check the facts that they start justifying on why Hindi should be made the national language of India since it’s widely spoken, 41% percent of total Indian population according to 2001 census. I politely but firmly come back with, “by that silly logic, crows and rats should replace the national bird and animal of India, respectively.”
I’d solely blame the Delhi-run central government and present day’s national media, mostly based in Delhi and Mumbai for the step-motherly treatment of non-Hindi languages in India.
Being an alumnus of central government run Kendriya Vidhyalaya, it was compulsory for us to learn Hindi till class 10 while an option to learn our mother-tongue over Hindi was denied. It is unfortunate, even shameful that a KV school in Tamil Nadu does not offer an option between Hindi and Tamil.
The mass-media mindlessly captions Assamese or Telugu as ‘regional language’ when someone needs to remind them that Hindi itself is a ‘regional language’ confined to a certain part of the nation. 
While the Delhi-run central government and national media’s collective dogmatic imposition of Hindi leads to severe linguistic deinvidualization at the cost of promoting one particular language, the moral majority in Delhi are already living the former's’ dream, unaware of the millions who represent the non-Hindi speaking populace in the nation!

LIFESTYLE CRISIS

Blame my traditional and simple upbringing, I believe in a quality lifestyle over a loud lifestyle. It might be out of personal choice or social compulsions, from lavish wedding processions on public roads to bling studded night clubs, Delhiites like to take center-stage and get noticed – The prime reason why Delhi is the most preferred fashion destination in India, the place where I see myself as a complete misfit.

Delhi might easily be among the top few most liveable cities in India but all that I returned with was a severe identity crisis which is etched deep in my mind. Over the last five years, I left behind a part of me with every passing day. I wore a social mask to fit into the society.

It has been over three months now since I relocated to Mumbai and I can already sense my persona cheering up. Unlike New Delhi, Mumbai is much more cosmopolitan and welcoming. Unlike Delhi where filthy slums, nasty stench and the dusty streets are carefully hidden in pockets behind those wide-clean-green-roads, the good, bad and ugly – It’s all open in Mumbai.
It is time to let go of the past, take a deep breath, relax and continue scanning the city’s horizon as Mumbai’s pleasant morning breeze gushes through my apartment in sixth floor. Gives me HOPE!

Note: The article has gone down as a negative piece, bad-mouthing New Delhi for a few. I’ve also received feedback that they face more problems in Bangalore, Chennai or Mumbai. 
For those who seem to have missed it, the point was to merely illustrate the ‘social ideology of Delhi’ and not draw a comparisons. The identity crisis.

The article was selected among the top 5 blogposts at BlogAdda's Tangy Tuesday Picks.

5 comments :

Neo Prady said...

What a brilliant post. Am a Bangalorean who speaks tamil, spent good years in Delhi. Lived like a north Indian because studying in KV gifted me Hindi like a mother tongue. But what i read in your post is totally relevant to me. Kudos for coming up with such a factual, emotional and masterpiece post. Wud suggest to increase the size of the text.

http://neoimaginations.blogspot.com/

Team BlogAdda said...

This post has been selected for the Tangy Tuesday Picks this week. Thank You for an amazing post! Cheers! Keep Blogging :)

Destination Infinity said...

I haven't been to Delhi, but have faced that 'Are you a Madrasi' question in Hyderabad. At that time I thought they didn't know that the name has changed into Chennai now and said yes, innocently. Then, they walk away!

BTW, I know a few North Indians who are having an equally tough time in Chennai because they don't know Tamil. We should acknowledge that also.

Destination Infinity

Purushu Arie said...

@Destination Infinity,

The point I was trying to make through the article is about the ‘social ideology of Delhi’ and not the tough times that I had in the city. 'Tough times' are something that everybody will face everywhere irrespective of which city he/she is living in. I penned this article to merely illustrate the social-ideology of the moral majority in New Delhi and how I was a complete misfit since I grew up believing the other side of spectrum. The identity crisis.

Sunaina Sharma said...

I have been born and brought up in Delhi. I am proud of Delhi but at the same time can relate to your article on Delhi which is quite true.

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