Friday, October 31, 2008

Being an Indian

I have been ranting and raving about the pros and cons (mostly, sadly) of being a Bihari. And it struck me how hard; or rather intricate is the state of being an Indian. Suddenly, Jinnah’s two nation theory seems like the babble of a deaf-mute 5 year old. India is a thousand nations. And maybe it will be divided on those grounds someday. That is definitely not I want. But who knows what happens next.

People fight. That is an indelible trait embedded in our genes, I guess. Allow me to digress. I am a not-so-regular viewer of an incredibly sarcastic TV show with elements of dark and sometimes twisted and sick humour in it, called SouthPark. In this show, a couple of episodes titled Go God Go I and II were aired some time back. It started with Richard Dawkins and atheism. And after much hullaballoo over Darwinism and Intelligent Design, one of the characters gets to the Future, centuries from now, as a result of a freak accident. And guess what was going on in the future? People stopped believing in God or religion, they said Oh My Science instead of Oh My God, BUT, they were still fighting. They were fighting over something called the Ultimate Question, and whose answer was the right one. The bottom-line is obvious. Coming back to the big bad world, while people all fight over different issues, one issue per region, in India, we seem to have the complete range. We have religion, obviously, the numero uno. Followed by caste, which has many sub divisions. Language is a one; the Aryan-Dravidian nonsense is another. I firmly believe that even this Aryan invasion theory was a diabolical fabrication by the Brits to further ease their job in India. And how can I forget women. Men and women in India have been fighting a silent war, and one look at the sex-ratio would tell you what the casualty count is. Around 35 million females. Damn all the men who consider women as second-rate citizens. A woman is a mother. Period. And nothing else can surpass that. (Feminists, please don’t jump at my throat if you think I was implying that a women is only good enough to bear and rear children)

Hindu Jaagaran Morcha. An outfit to avenge the deaths of Hindus by IM/SIMI. I felt weird, sick and confused, all at the same time, when I heard of their doings. So that is how a decent, law-abiding, patriotic Muslim feels when some jackass who claims to be a believer in God and a follower of Islam blows up something. I am aghast and ashamed. And thank the Almighty that this was not swept under the rugs. Speaking of terror and terrorists, we seem to have almost all kinds of them.

1. Good old Islamic terrorist
2. The greenhorn Hindu “jihadi”
3. The Naxalites , MCC, CPI-ML , PWG and so on
4. The Upper-caste army of Landlords who came into existence to counter no.3
5. The Khalistani militants, which I guess are not as dormant as commonly perceived
6. Naga Terrorists (Aren’t they Christians?)
8. BD - If you rape a nun in the name of God, you are a terrorist for me.
9. Every bloody rioter

My apologies if I forgot to mention anyone.

That’s terrorism in diversity for you people. Be Proud. You could only have that in a country like India. “It happens only in India”! And we only need Buddhist, Jain and Parsee terrorists to complete the beautiful picture. No offence intended!

Whenever somebody blows up or kills someone in the name of something or the other, I am reminded of a dialogue from the movie Sarfarosh, where the character called Inspector Saleem says so”Apne desh ke dushman bohot kismet waale hain, unhe bas hathiyar bhejne ki zaroorat hai, ladne waale bohot mil jayenge” (The enemies of India are really lucky, as they have to furnish the guns and the bombs only, the soldiers to fight their wars are in plenty). Very true.

A thousand curses and eternal damnation to the media. They are the worst amongst the worst. Show me the whole picture, I’ll choose the part which seems right to me. I would like to know whether the ad for the grade IV examination conducted by the railways was really brought out only in the Hindi newspapers or not. But I don’t think I am ever going to discover that through the media. Is investigative journalism dead, or in a coma? All the media seems to show is what depresses, demoralize and disgusts, sometimes all at the same time. Is it that hard to look for stories that are good for the Indian spirit?

Ever heard of the word “illad”? Not Homer’s Iliad. I-L-L-A-D. This is the one word that I absolutely hate with every fiber of my body. This word stands for one of the major flaws with the mindset of the Indians (hailing from the states other than Karnataka, Kerala, TN and AP). This is like blasphemy for me. For those of you, who have not heard of it, an “illad” is the more affectionate term used to address (indirectly) the people of the Southern states, or “South-India”. It was quite a commonly used part of the vocabulary of the average Manipal-ite. Every time I hear it, I feel as if somebody used the invective of the mother-sister type for me. Even though I hail from a state up north, it stings. And the morons who drop it at the drop of hat from their mouths evidently do not realize how wrong and criminally insensitive they are. A few months ago, while dining in a restaurant, I overheard a girl saying” Delhi ke neeche sab south hai.” (Everything below Delhi is South for me). Sure you do bitch. Who the hell taught you geography, and history for that matter? I would go wild with ecstasy if the words “North-Indian” and “South-Indian” were officially banned.And while I am on the subject of name calling, I equally loathe and detest how Indians from the North-East get labeled as "Chinkies" . That is again , seriously fucked up . They are treated as if they are foreigners , no wonder some of them do want to secede from India .When will we stop seeing each other as illad's, chinkie's,bhaiyya's,ghati's and whatever-other-stupid-names-we-have ?

Amidst all the anti-Bihari vibe tingling the nation’s spine, sometimes I feel like a Jew. I guess the displaced Kashmiri Pandits feel the same, refuges in their own home. The Sikhs during ‘84 riots must have felt the same. Also the Muslims in ‘93 and ‘02. And the Christians in Orissa and in Karnataka. I bet the busload of elderly Marathi women and men touring Bihar, who were caught in the middle of the ruckus, felt something close. At least they escaped unscathed, thanks to the local MP and the Police. And I am alive, amen to that. Which brings this thought to my disturbed mind, who’s going to be the next “Jew” of India?

Amidst the chaos and the cacophony, I often wonder, when, or rather how would it end? Would it ever end? Or Is this the beginning of the End? For a guy like me, who thinks a lot about these things (contemplation, retrospection and introspection being one of my preferred activities to engage at leisure), for whom these things matter, it is extremely disturbing. I am often lost; thinking about how things could have been or rather should have been. While people often think about Superheroes and fantasize about being one (including yours truly), I, more often than not, end up conjuring up a fantasy of a Super India. An India that was economically stronger, with a uniform distribution of wealth. An India that beat the living daylights out of China and was significantly more powerful (In my fantasies we annihilated China in 1962 and asked Tibet to join the Indian Union, and they gleefully did., ditto in the Bangladesh war, and we also did not lose the piece of land now known as Pok). An India which files thousands of patents a year. An India which spear heads the development of green technology. An India which sends a manned mission to Mars before others do. As secular and democratic as no nation has ever been. And so on, and so forth. What an incorrigible day-dreamer am I! Which is why when jolted back to the real India, I actually feel physical pain. I feel a throbbing in my head and a searing pain in my heart.

The reason why I don’t watch a lot of football or have a favourite team – Does my country play this game? Does any club from my country play this game, on an international level? Then who do I root for? Why should I scream the blood out of my lungs? No Tricolor, No testosterone-driven-adrenaline-powered-crazy-cheers. As a result I am an unbiased and a neutral spectator of Football. This is a testament to how insanely tricolored-track my mind is. And I am proud of it. I also wonder whether not being such a die-hard, somewhat jingoistic patriot would have actually been good for my mental health.

When I am so bogged down by the bloody mess that we live in, I often think of the easiest way out. Quite obviously, things wouldn’t get fixed over the period of a 3 hour sorry ass Indian movie, with people from all over India singing “Saare jahan se accha” or the national anthem, arms linked together and all. I am not suicidal or even close to suicidal but there are times when I wish I would get knocked down by a speeding bus. Or get blown to bits in the next bomb blast, assuming another one takes place. At times, it is all I think, how wonderful it will be to disappear from the face of this earth and never ever come back (temporarily though, because I am a believer of the Hindu theory of the cycle of birth and death). Am I unhinged to think like this? I guess a short trip to the loony bin wouldn’t hurt that much.:) At least, I would be in the company of certified lunatics, who have the failed, the “test-of-sanity” of this whacky world.

I heard about some book or the other through a pal in which the author anatomizes the concept of India, and concludes that it exists in theory alone. I tried to Google more about this, but couldn’t find anything concrete. But it does make me think a lot these days. My increasingly depressing thoughts aside, this is a serious question indeed. Is the concept of India as a secular, democratic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual nation too utopian to be true? Or is this just a phase which will pass over, and we will get back to our old “chalta-hai” attitude. Is it just plain old crazy me who is having doubts? My belief system has taken such a severe hit that the words India and Indian bring a sardonic smile to my lips these days .

Being Indian is no joke.

Time to curl back in my cocoon and let my imagination run wild. “What ho, Jeeves! Bring me a stiff w & s. Pip pip Cruel World. “


vikramvgarg said...

Kislay, 10,000 miles away I feel the same as you. I almost feel like the life is sucked out of me when I hear about a bomb blast, anywhere in India, everytime I hear a labourer being beaten and manhandled, everytime I hear about some NE person being teased and abused .... the list just seems never ending.

But I feel a spring in my step when I hear something good has happened, no matter how small, anywhere in India.

I try to see India through the eyes of the people who created it, Gandhi and Ambedkar mostly, but sadly few seem to live up to their ideals today.

Indian Home Maker said...

So I am not alone. And you are not going crazy though there is enough going on to make you, or any sane Indian go crazy. This post sums up how I, and I am sure, many of us are feeling today. My post this morning is about the same terrible pain and fear, I don't know what's happening ... or I do know what's happening but it seems most other Indians are blinded by some hatred for some other Indian... and what they don't realise is when they succeed in teaching a lesson to the Indians they hate, and they will have destroyed India to save their state/religion/caste/leader, they will all go down too...only ones unscathed will be the politicians and gang-lords they are empowering to ruin their country.
A heart breaking post. Keep writing.

nimis540 said...

Such a heartfelt post...Even I am feeling weird on "How to feel and react everyday"..The moment we think its over,atleast for some time,we hear and see of another violence the very next moment..Most of the people have become insensitive to all this..Even they are not to be blamed fully,bcoz what is it to be fumed every day..Life has become so stressful..

Kudos to you for imparting the emotions in the right intensity...God bless our nations and our lives...

Pls visit my blog and read a comment of mine on post "Migrant issues"..I ahve written something,which I wish you should read,being a Bihari..Its sad to hear you saying "I have been ranting and raving about the pros and cons (mostly, sadly) of being a Bihari."..Don't feel low..Everybody is discriminatied in one way or the other..Provided you don't stand for yourself,you can't reach out to the greater world of success..Afterall Bihar was the centre of culture,learning and power..Am I not right? The tradition of Magadha and all diversities and blessing of Mother India should inspire you to become more successful than anyother state in India..Hell with Mumabi or other places..Life will not stop if you don't have a job in Mubai..Remember,majority of nation is with you..

God bless

1conoclast said...

And this so-called northie cringes every time he hears the word madrasi or malabari.
HOW bloody irritating!

Being an Indian is not easy at all dude. Specially if you're of mixed race like me. Or worse in a minority. Unless of course you're numb to all around you on account of your lower intellect or thicker hide.

Trailblazer said...

Yes. Well written, Kislay. These events make the mind go blank. The lack of responsible leaders is bearing very heavy on us. I feel completely blank at times. Can't think of how to react. Doubt, hatred, disrespect. These have become so common.

No one cares. And people who do, are termed as cribbers.

Kislay said...

Thank you every one . I am glad to know that I am not going crazy . There are others who think alike .

I read your comment . It made a lot of sense . And I don't want a job in Mumbai , or Pune . In fact , I did not apply to the companies who were offering a job there . Why go to a place where you are not wanted ?
What was the first part of your comment about ? Was it intended for me ?

saumitrax said...

Dude, that whole article was really well written and from the heart..keep it up.. but u do need to realise that regions that were separate for centuries were suddenly forced together into one country.Physical boundaries can disappear but those cultural boundaries will remain for a long time to come..It will take time, probably another five decades for the country to integrate.. second thing, just because people from the south are termed south indians or people from north are termed north indians n so on doesnt necessarily have to be taken in a negative sense..Look at americans.. probably the most nationalistic of the lot.. yet, texans are proud to be texans, californians are proud to be californians..ppl from northern refions are still called yankies.. denoting somebody as being from a particular region of the country should not be considered anti nationalistic.. n as a friendly advice, do give ur mind some rest.. its good that u think bout these things but there is no point worrying about things that u have no control over.. if u r really concerned n vent out ur feelings through actions.. worrying is only going to depress u..


Kislay said...

Thank you . That was a very intelligent response . And I do need to give my bheja a break , so it does not get fried !

Freddie said...

this is by far the best post written by an Indian blogger I have come across in 2008. very personal, very effective. Thanks for this.

venkatesh said...

Dude, you are good, actually more than just good. i am happy that i bumped into you :)

venkatesh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kislay said...

Thumba Dhanyavadagalu . Trying to learn Kannada man ! :)

1conoclast said...


Reference to your "illad's, chinkie's,bhaiyya's,ghati's and whatever-other-stupid-names-we-have" bit.

venkatesh said...

woh thi bahut kusi ka baat hai.. tumhar khathir hum bhi kuchh hindi seekath hai ;-)

Kislay said...

You worded it a bit harshly , I guess . No offence taken , though .

Thanks man . If only the rest of the India could do that . Mutual respect for the fellow Indians' many languages and religions .

Kislay said...

WHOA ! Seriously ? I do confess to writing what I feel , as honestly as I could , I am a hopeless romantic , in a different sense , my lady love being "Bharat Maata" . Thank you very much for this magnanimous compliment .

1conoclast said...

Harsh? Which part?

Kislay said...

Forget it . My mistake .

Indian Home Maker said...

You have been tagged :)

Zeeshan said...

Hey dude, extremely well written makes me want to meet u in person to actually see that a person like u really exists...i feel that one mistake that you made in your article was that u named the region u belonged to, that is the sole reason i could not e-mail your comment to my friends cause in India even highly educated people behave and act like fools and sadly enough there is a dearth of intellectuals in this great country.....however beautifully written article, from where i see was not written but just pure expression of thoughts flowing in to the keyboard. keep it up dude...

Kislay said...

You are too kind . But I do not think mentioning my region of origin was a mistake on my part . I do not intend to hide anything .In fact a part of what I have expressed here , stems from that fact . Anyways , thanks again .

J P Joshi said...

Your anguish and your outburst against the happenings in our dear country are very genuine and are felt by a majority of Indians - you are not alone on that account, let me assure you. However, we must all do what we can to make the situation better. We must make an action plan rather than make 'bheja fry'.

The ad by Tata Tea is very good, 'Agar aap vote nahin kar rahen to aap so rahein hain'. Please vote for the right people. Please educate people around you to vote for the right people. Start a critical mass.

After reading various blogs, my spirits are very high that the youth of India is seething with anger at the goings on, and also the love for the motherland shines through. It is youth that can bring about change. Don't let that passion die...translate that passion into something concrete. Democracy works and India cannot survive without democracy. Voting is the only power that the common man has.... don't slip up on that right/ responsibility.

Kislay said...

@J P Joshi
Thank you for your comment .

Indyeah said...

Amazing article!just read it today.Brilliantly written!
Yes,the 'chalta hai attitude'!Makes me want to murder someone is what it does..Hamaare desh mein sab chalta hai....thodi si ghoons chalti hai....thodi jugaad bhi chalti hai....ek shahar mein dange chalte hain,ek rajya mein dange chalte hain,is desh mein bhi dange bas chalte hi hain,
ek maraa toh chaltaa hai.......200 mare toh kuch bhi nahi, kyunki 2000 mare toh bhi toh chalte hi hain na!

Root cause...this one is..

''When will we stop seeing each other as illad's, chinkie's,bhaiyya's,ghati's and whatever-other-stupid-names-we-have ?''Good Question!
And oh apparently 'Ghaatis' too is a term used..So you name the stereotype,we have it ...Quite brilliant we are actually at this.....

You are right I think,
''Being Indian indeed is no joke.''
Not much to say except this sense of helpless rage just strikes too hard sometimes...and you conveyed that really well..

Kislay said...

Thank you Indyeah . A few months ago , I was so sick of it all , that I seriously used to say this , facing the sky "Uthaa lo prabhu" ! :) Things haven't changed much , for some inexplicable reason , the desire to live on this hell hole call Earth is stronger . But still , being an Indian is no joke , specially when a country reacts this way , after something like 26/11 . Makes me feel like eunuch .