Them Versus Us

Taking off from the Shilpa 'Shitty' issue (I love the surname and that comes from my ever so humorous and intellectual friend Latha or Lotty with love and Angel No. 1 to some :)), here are some reflections on being a north easterner in the capital of the world's largest democracy. Also, Lotty, on a serious note, says I should have a NE angle to what I write. She has a point. I have enough material there, enough to give vent to.

I begin with 'oye Chinky'. When I came to Delhi in the mid 1990s to do a professional course, I wasn't sure what the word meant. Maybe I was too busy paying heed to my new found independence and the certain sense of security -- the fact that I could go to the market even at 10 pm without the peering eyes of the army or the CRPF personnel patrolling the streets and stiffling our existence. It wasn't until my course was over and I got myself a break as a sub editor with the country's premier news agency, that I had my first hand experience of a racial slur. I walk into a sex-starved newsroom on my second week and a senior colleague, part amused, part bullying, calls me 'hi chinky'. It hurt my north eastern sensibility. Fortunately knowing where he came from, I did retort 'hi, so you have not left your Bihari background.' For me, it's been just that one incident but friends recall worser stories.

Ten years on in Delhi and the independence and the sense of security is a little misplaced. I still feel like an alien... I have had to combat men/landlords who have a sneaking suspicion that something is not quite alright with our morals. Because we dress differently, speak differently and look different, we are outsiders; the racist assumptions are too deeply ingrained in people here. Take the case of my neighbours too. For months, they didn't make an effort to even smile seeing two women, that too with non-Indian faces, live alone. Ditto with the rude sweeper or the kabariwallah (rubbish collector) who even had the gall to ask if we had only beer bottles to dispose off until my sister caught him by the collar and slapped him hard, literally. Not that the rest were meted out the same treatment, but they soon came around on their own. That north Indians have the highest number of incest and then make a beeline for the Ganges to wash their sins is another story. But that partly explains why north easterners stick to themselves and do not readily assimilate with the rest of the region. Disturbing...
Them Versus Us Them Versus Us Reviewed by Indira on January 21, 2007 Rating: 5

5 comments:

rita said...

hey indira'
arnt u proud of being different? i am, and i wud nev..r change places with any common lookig north indian, they r s..o crass ,loud mouthed and many more things, id rather not say!!
anyways CHINKS r going to conquer the world , in fact chinky conquest has already begun, the whole world is making a bee line 4 chinky made stuff!! watch and wait... so my dear hold ur head high and damn the north indians..!!
love echema rita

incognito said...

compeltely agree.. bneing among the 'non-chinks' for a long time i did not know that being called a chink was offensive... Even when i called someone a chink, it was without any malice. But I learnt that labelling anyone in any way is offensive. But this labelling problem is much more deepseated than u may have mentioned. I think you guys too call us "indians' :), the same way northies call any dark skinned person madrasi, or southies call anybody from other side biharis. However, I think more than the label it is the way north easterns are perceived which is the real discrimination. Assuming somebody's moral standing on the basis of what they wear and where they are from is truely discriminatory and should not be condoned at any cost.

incognito said...

compeltely agree.. bneing among the 'non-chinks' for a long time i did not know that being called a chink was offensive... Even when i called someone a chink, it was without any malice. But I learnt that labelling anyone in any way is offensive. However, this labelling problem is much more deepseated than u may have mentioned. I think you guys too call us "indians' :), the same way northies call any dark skinned person madrasi, or southies call anybody from other side biharis. More than the label it is the way north easterns are perceived which is the real discrimination. Assuming somebody's moral standing on the basis of what they wear and where they are from is truely discriminatory and should not be condoned at any cost.

surjit said...

Humans..as always..blaming for what they see..you can never drive a vehicle from the fourth gear..likewise..life always presents a gift..it is us who should see out of the box..n think positively..we are minority here..but a majority to the world..i believe god has given us eyes to see..but he has also given brains to think..to imagine..n lets imagine India to be filled with chinkis..hahaha..

Shanti said...

Dearie Indira, all I can say is hold your head high..being a Chink is an asset but for those who dont know it is in fact a problem!!Well, we should not be labelling each other as such but we are all Indians in true spirit!!Bharat Mahaan!!Lets be proud of our great country & ourselves!!
The deepseated problem of labelling may not be easy to remove but at least we can do so within our friend circles and be more happier with them and get to know more of each other better!! I remember well when I first worked in B'bay private hospitals in the early 90s, I was mistaken for a Nepali. I had to endure many more uncharitable remarks from South Indian nurses for which I had to give explanations that I was from the NorthEast & that we had all chinky features.I used to question them as to why being from the most literate state of India..how come they did not know anything about one of their own states which was Manipur? Anyway it was a learning experience for me to be out there in the world.I became good friends with them after all because they stopped calling me Nepali but my name.I can imagine how you feel about the "Them vs Us" thing!! I agree with Rita with her views about the beeline made for chinky stuffs!!
Hey! Ibemma Phajabi! be proud of yourself cos you are Indira and not something else!!We love you as you are!!

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