It all started with a simple enough question, ‘Where are you from?’ This is a commonly asked question whenever we meet new people, considering that we are in a foreign country. My answer is a straight ‘India’. A recent incident and some more related incidents changed the way I look at my own countrymen.
I was out with a bunch of friends (all Indians) and somebody asked us the same question. The answer could have been a simple ‘India’ and that would have been that. Instead, that friend of mine chose to say, X, Y and Z are from south India and A, B, C and myself are from north India. I was stunned for a minute and wondered why he did that. It bothered me that even though we were from the same country, he still thought it was necessary to divide us like that, with a line between the north and the south. Why the division amongst our own people? It bothered me but I thought it wasn’t worth losing sleeping over and finally, I decided to let it go instead of confronting him about it.
But recently, I’ve noticed this weird thing amongst some of the so-called ‘north Indians’ I know, they actually think they are a better race and so should be clearly demarcated and separated from us south –Indians. What a load of crap! Really!! It was bad enough that they lived with the notion that south Indian means you are from Chennai and give you that condescending and ‘I am superior’ look. But to have that demarcation among friends, is really so shallow.
And off late, I’ve heard a lot of ‘you south-Indians this and us north-Indians that’ kind of thing that makes me cringe each time. I agree that India is a very huge country and the culture can differ a lot. But what really makes me feel bad is that, portraying such a division in thought in a foreign country just gives the world a wrong impression. Things are not much different than they were before independence. No wonder they used ‘Divide and Rule’ to conquer India. The fact that I’ve come across so many of similar-thinking people, it really makes me wonder, maybe, we are still divided. Maybe that’s why we haven’t really made great progress. Maybe until we think that we are all actually from one and the same country, we wont really go anywhere.