Monday, April 26, 2010

Where are you from?

"Strange stuffs happen all around you, and only if you had that one moment to stop and notice it.....then whaatt , you'd be a BLOGGER then" :p

Yesterday the age old question again popped up from an oh-so-handsome(wish he didn't have a girlfriend) guy sitting opposite to me in the Jamnagar-Surat Intercity Express, (Indian Railways should give me discount coupons now!), while his girlfriend sat beside him grumbling about the quality of air-conditioning in Indian trains and the lousy platform junk food (do not blame me, it was her! I love having bhajiyas at the baroda station when I am travelling with my roommate or someone else).
              Alright, here i wander away again. That is my new 'beemaarri'. I start with something, i drift away to something and end up with something else which has nearly no connection with what i started with. My friend Arihant thinks I need to consult a "bhoot-pret bhagau baba". If you have any contacts of such, please do forward them.

HOLD ON, i was talking about that question; "where are you from?" I get this question a lot. A LOT. Especially when on vacations or on flights. I usually reply straight away. But yesterday the thought of playing upon it struck me. (situational factors: I was bored. The  iPod was outta charge. I finished reading the book i was carrying). So I asked him back "Where do you think I am from?"

 To this even his ever complaining girlfriend, who was least interested in what was going around; sat up straight and looked at me. Well directly put she was checking me out head-to-toe. I gave her an "I-am-not-stealing-your-boyfriend/husband" look and got back to my usual "gujarat darshan on wheels" mode.
He replied as i looked back; "you look Garhwaali". :O
                    All along I have got some of the most intriguing answers. I have been called an Indonesian and Malaysian (having lived in Jakarta and those chinkeeesh eyes i have). There often have have been questions raised on me being a Southern European. The tan I got from my last Goa trip made one guest at Tito's to argue with me that I am Spanish (and I do not even know how to speak that). That is the global scenario.
Most are taken aback when I reveal my nationality; the common replies are "neh" or "freakin noo".

I am thankful enough at least my countrymen and women call me an "Indian". Majority of them do, except for few instances which left me questioning my own "Indian-ness". Until they hear my name, very few emerge out to the conclusion at I am a Bengali. "bong" as they call it.
Spending my adolescence in the Urban India until now, I was often confronted about my "Indian-ness" although it vaguely mattered. Everyone around was and still is mostly Indian. It was hardly anything but ordinary.
There were differences always and they emerged out in their own ways. The mallu who had relatives in Gulf versus the Gujju who had his in Canada or USA. The Mukerjee who could gobble up any fish sold in the world v/s the Patel who wanted Dhokla for his evening "snakes". the Iyer who loves to eat his curd-rice with his hands and forearms too v/s the Khanna who would not budge away from his 'raajma-chawal'.
What makes anyone and everyone diffrent is the language they speak, the way they eat, what they eat and wear, the state they live in and sadly (the worse) even the way they pray.
I sometimes lay awake and think of the "Greater Good" that Dumbledore intented to do and that THAT "WHITE GLOBE" that Auro made in the movie "Paa". Wish everyone was equal despite our differences.

And as any other human we often poke fun at others', fight for ours, but never let them go.
            In India , being an "Indiaaan" as Rucha calls it, is never enough. You have to have a label. You have to be a Punjabi, a Gujarati or anything else of an equal denomination. Just an "Indian" is not and never enough.
           But where does that leave me??? I am an all confused east Indian production sailing away with joy in the land of western India with my behaviour of a pukka delhi-ite(i have been told so thousands of time).
I love rassam and Undhiyu and Raajma chawal. I can comfortably speak four languages apart from hindi but i think in many (thats where confusion arises). I have spent light years eating with chopsticks and speaking Minglish and singlish. Now what Am I?

Did I mention that I am a bong living in the gujju-land. A Bengali who is half-trained in "Hindustani Shastriya Sangeet"(which she was never interested in. but who cares), a well trained Classical dancer, one who can eat anything else but "maach bhaat" *fish and rice*, hates rasgullas and even 'sandesh', proud owner of high cheekbones + lovely eyes minus lovely jet black hair (other bengalis' have lovely hair and i am jealous), a creative cook and a voracious reader. Because I am Bengali I write poems, bad Poetry though.
Having lived in Gujarat for so long makes me one too. I can speak Gujarati more fluently than I can speak my own mother tongue. Living with so many "Patels" around, I can see why it is so difficult for them to get a Visa. I wait for Navratri  more than I wait for any other festival; (I love garba). Ghee-gor-Rotlo and Ras-Poori can make me smile any day.I salute the Gujju spirit of Entrepreneurship above all. So what does all this make me?

I say it all makes me an Indian! Not a penny more not a penny less.

I love myself like this and that!


  1. its awesome... well said... we do need such kinda a thinking... its important to be an Indian first...
    great writing Kb....

  2. Nice read! I kinda related to what you said abt Indianess.. I used to be a proud, patriotic Hyderabadi - boasting to everyone i meet that Hyd is the best city on the planet (I still do :) ) .. but later when i had to move to Delhi, Rajasthan and now Gujarat, that Hyderabadi part keeps getting diluted and I keep becoming a complete Indian :)

    PS: didnt knw bhajiyas at baroda station were that good. will make it point to try them out next time.. If i dont find them to be any good, then you better watch your back :P

  3. Utsav. Thanks buddy! I know Its important to be an Indian, but in India you can never be just an Indian. Trust me on that!

  4. Sam>>Ohh seriously, one should see the country before calling one city "d best". I mean I always loved Mumbai, its so alluring. And then I fell in love with my own city Kolkata and accepted its dinginess. And now i equally love Chandigarh!! aarhh! am confused!

    well d bhajiyas arent that great. But if you hit a jackpot of choosing the right vendor and fresh ones, few hungry freinds can always enjoyyy!!!

  5. Bong in Gujju land?
    But we Indians can adapt to any place I suppose.

  6. Haddock...
    you think so??
    yea to some extent we do...You gave me somethin 2 write on. thank you!

    and I never said that Indians cannot adapt..

  7. haha Join the club Kajori... i know exactly how it is... more often than not, people think i am anything but a GUJJU. it used to annoy me intially, but now i just play along.
    Lovely blog u got

  8. I am sure almost all of us can relate to this in one way or the other and thats what makes this such a great post. Keep writing..

    oh and btw Light years is a unit of distance, not time.

  9. Shaili.... anyday any body would mistake u for a non-gujju! Its surely fun playing on it!

    Rohan.. Thank you! I know light years is a unit of distance! Its a phrase used in the urban-colloquial usage!


Why I write this ?

so you finally want to know. Well very often I have a writer's block. I am over burdened by my own thoughts. Sometimes i do take the pain of puttin them up, mostly i do not. This is a peek-a-Boo of what i see, what i feel and what i want you to know. Bear with me! Happy reading!