Friday, January 30, 2009

Aiyyo Da...

Disclaimer: These are my personal views and I do not wish to hurt anybodys emotions or sentiments.

I am a punjabi ( whose family is originally from Pakistan, and all relatives are in Punjab) and I stayed all my life in Kolkata (West Bengal). I studied in the best of schools and had classmates of all religions from all backgrounds. I've had Keralites, Andhrites, Tamilians, Bengalis all as friends and never had a problem communicating with them. In fact, at different points of time in life, I've had a Keralite, an Andhrite and a Tamilian as my 'Best Friend' (and am still in touch with most of them). So when I got admision into a reputed B-School, in the south (in the foothills of the annamalai hills) I couldn't have been more excited. Ettimadai or 'Planet-E' as it is known, is almost heaven on earth... seems like God himself (forgive the male usage!) came down to create the 'Elephant Hill', the beautiful trees, the exquisite flora and fauna. It is an absolute treat to the eyes to have a walk in our campus... and I can proudly say that it must be one the the most beautiful and well maintained campuses in India!!!
But there was a lot of ugliness beneath all this beauty. The first day itself, our class was divided on the basis of language. For me this was a side of South Indians I had never seen -- a Tamil gang, a Mallu gang, and a Telegu gang. Of course there were a few of us who didn't fit in anywhere... the north Indians, but who cared. I questioned my decision of joining this college and remember thinking on the first day itself that two years would go by in a jiffy -- hopefully!!
I remembered my earlier south Indian friends, and thought that probably it wouldn't be so difficult to mix around with these people either. But what I found out was to the contrary. They love talking in their mother tongue... irrespective of whether somebody else understands it or not. All they care about is their own so called 'gang'.
What is hilarious is that the Tamilians, Mallus and Andhrites do not mix amongst themselves either!! If a member of one group, spends too much time with a member of another group, he has commited a cardinal sin!! For me it was initially very difficult to figure out who was a Keralite, who was a Tamilian etc. I realised that people are get very offended when you get their background wrong and even more offended when you mistake somebody from a different state to be from their state!! Pride, Arrogance, Ego.. whatever it is... these people just dont mix.
Their language is another big problem. I already know four languages and when I came here I thought I would definitely pick up one more atleast. But that was not to be. First of all, I cannot distinguish between Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam. Secondly, (and this may sound rude) I feel that they dont talk but just make 'noise' (and the fact that they love to shout while talking, doesnt make it any better!!). I feel that there are no words.. I've tried very hard to listen to them.. sometimes I feel that the language is very crude and not refined... 'coz as an outsider you feel that they are abusing each other!! I wonder that when we speak in hindi... do we also make 'noise'? Or does it sound more refined? I just hope it is the latter.
South Indian food will need a separate post.. but it would suffice to say for now that people here are happy eating their dosha, idli, sambhar, rasam, puttu -- day after day. Simple people they are and I do agree to that.. Very helpful and always wearing a smile on their face. Before coming to this place, I thought I could live anywhere... after coming here that belief has strengthened!!

P.S: I have been lucky though, that I did find some very good friends here too.. both south Indians as well as North Indians. What binds us all is the fact that we are Indians.. and future managers... wishing all my batchmates all the very best!!

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