Are you a North Indian or a South Indian? This is the very first question that is going to make rounds in your head once you get out of your state. At the first juncture, you would think, “What the hell of a difference does it make? I am an Indian, and that’s it! Whether I am from Kerala or Kashmir, how does it matter?”
Well, at this point of time, this may not be your favorite topic to discuss. Also, at any point of time, given a choice, you would avert this topic to your last breath. But, believe me! I had gone through a tremulous time when I was first asked this question by a sweeper in my college hostel. That was about 8 years ago. But till now, people tend to stick to either being a North Indian or a South Indian. If you are not an Indian, or you have not visited to all parts of India, this might sound crappy to you. But, once you travel in India, you will know that this is no crap; but a hard to believe FACT.
I used to have this friend called Srinivasan Padmanabhan (from Karnataka), and another, called Saket Kaul (from Delhi). Both were very good friends of mine. But just see how different their mentalities were. I will take the topics one-by-one and their responses.
Topic 1: Culture & Traditions
Sri: We South Indians are very traditional. We have a great culture, and each one of us follow that with utmost discipline. Our girls don’t go to late night parties, nor do they have multiple boyfriends. We believe ONLY in arranged marriage.
Sak: Even we have great traditions. We are also very cultural. We are just taking the western culture along with us. This is called globalization. We are not only Indian citizens anymore, we are also Global citizens. Although we have taken in a lot from the western culture, we have not yet forgotten to value relationships and respect elders. Of course, our girls go to late night parties, and might just have more than a single boyfriend! But, that’s quite common, isn’t it!
I told Saket, “ Yaar, I think it is common for all of us. But this kind of a gesture, I think, is more than what is required to prove that you are a global citizen.” To this, he replied, “Grow up, Suman. Won’t you have a back up plan for everything, in case the Plan A doesn’t work out? This is called planning. We also have a rich heritage.”
Topic 2: Color of people
Sri: Why are you guys so obsessed with your color? I mean, it’s okay to be black.
Sak: Go wash your face, man! Why is it that there is a uniform color all over? And, that is Black. Man, there is no end to this. But, one thing is for sure, if we go out in the sun, we become black; and in the winter, we come back to natural. But, you guys are hopeless! Summer or winter, spring or autumn, you remain same.
I told Saket again, “Does this seem to be a problem? What is his fault if he is black? Tomorrow if someone tells you that it is wrong to be fair, then where would you go?” Saket, as usual, has every thing ready in his head. He said, “That will never be the case, kiddo. Coz, Americans are white.”
Topic 3: Climate and weather
Sri: Now, why are we discussing this? We do not have any control over this. Still, I would say that Karnataka and Kerala have the best climatic conditions in India. Please excuse the other South Indian state, Tamil Nadu; I am sure they must be truly jealous of this fact. They don’t seem to have a winter.
I told Sri, “Guys, I think, here Sri has won the battle.”
Sak: Man, you guys only have average kind of weather. You don’t know the fun of going to extremes. You might have a pleasant weather, but we enjoy the peaks.
I told Saket, “Yeah, yeah, I know. The grapes are sour.” And, this time, there was no reply.
Topic 4: Politics
Sri: We have very good politicians by way of Kumaraswamy and Naidu. Nobody has helped their respective states so much in over the last few decades.
Sak: Yeah! Because you don’t have anything else to boast about, that’s why you talk about politics.
I: Sorry guys, not interested in Politics.
Topic 5: Professionalism
Sri: We are professional to the core. We go to office only to work and nothing else. We work really hard all day long; and sometimes we end up working on weekends as well. Our clients also have high expectations from us. But, I don’t know why the North Indian guys get more promotions. Is it because the Head Office is there, or, because the CEO is also a North Indian!
Sak: That’s right! You go to office only to work. You get bored, go to cafeteria, crap about the company, and come back to your hot seat. We get more promotions because we do the work happily. Whenever we feel crappy, we do some good activity, and come back in a cheerful mood. That’s why we are seldom bored.
I: I fully agree to Saket in this. There are so many activities going on all around in the facilities in north India. Here in the South, people have taken up responsibilities, still do not conduct anything. Even if some of them conduct, others feel shy to go and attend, or even be an audience to those activities.
Topic 6: Entertainment
Sri: We have our cultural programmes for entertainment. We have a great film industry, which is making waves nowadays. You Hindi films also copy our films.
Sak: Bullshit! Just because some movies have copied, you can’t say that overall Hindi films only copy your South Indian movies. I mean, how can you guys make, and more than that, even see such crap! Bald people of over 60 years of age put up wigs and dance around the trees with 20-yr old chicks. And, what sense! What makes you guys such BIGGG fans of all the fatty ladies!
I: Here, we go again! Guys, Hindi films are not only for people in the North. Bombay Film Industry is for India as a whole. It is only the regional films that are far away. Agreed that some Hindi movies have copied from South Indian movies, but most have gone as big flops. Moreover, if you are to fight over the film industry, why don’t you put up a fight between the Karnataka Film industry and the Punjab Film Industry. Doesn’t that sound healthy!
Topic 7: Who is a better Indian?
Sri: I don’t know that, but I had heard from our parents and grandparents that we (from Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu) are the sole South Indians. We can even take in Andhra to our group. But, we want a different existence altogether. We don’t want to be a part of your India. And also, we don’t want you Northies to come to our states and spoil our culture with your lifestyle.
I told to Sri, “What the hell, man! Do you know what you are talking about!”
Sak: Just shut up, man! Even we don’t want you to be a part of India. You Blackies! Go and stay in Sri Lanka. And, yes Suman, you wanted to know who is a better Indian, right! Here you go. We are the better Indians. We stay in Delhi, the capital city. We are the ONLY Indians. All you South Indians and Bengalis are a bane to India. You make the black spots at the Indian face, and we are the ones who try and make up for all the shit that you spread.
I: Well, that’s it! I wanted a healthy environment. Just for timepass. Anyways, the power has come back, let’s get back to our rooms and cool ourselves.
This was a session that I had with two of my best friends in college. This was the day, when I decided that I would visit all over India, and see for myself, how diverse are we? Towards the end of this discussion, I could see the fury in both Sri and Sak.
To this day, the question still arises in my mind! We say that India has both Unity and diversity. Here, all I could see is diversity. Where is the so-called Unity? Or, does it only come into existence when terrorism shows up, or we see a Cricket match!