Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Why i will be an "outsider" forever:


I’ve been living in Pune for almost two years now, and I love this city. I moved here just when the rains had begun, and it was love at first sight. It was pouring and I got soaked to the skin, but the university campus had to be the most beautiful I’d ever seen. (People who have been to Calcutta University will know why.) I knew this is where I wanted to be…

Over the years I began to know the city. I met some crazy people who went on to being my closest friends. I lived with some, fought with some, cried with some, but I love them with a passion and intensity I haven’t felt in a long time.
Basically, at the end of these two years, Pune is home. I rarely go to Calcutta, and though I still love Calcutta, Pune provides me with a kind of speed in life which Calcutta is famous for lacking.

What makes Pune my home?? It’s the fact that I love the weather, and I’m trying to learn the language. The fact that I love the hills. And the beautiful rain trees outside my windows. The sunsets. The gorgeous University campus. I love turtle point, and I love the kacchi dabeli. And the road up Sus, and the funny way people pronounce “CH” as in CHandni CHowk!! I love the Pune Warriors IPL team as much as KKR (hello! i know that Yuvraj Singh is the captain ok!! i even follow them on facebook!! doesnt THAT atleast qualify me as a fan?!).

However, the one thing that never fails to make me sad is the ‘outsider’ complex that many many many Maharashtrians have. I will forever be considered an “outsider” here. Yeah, even my friends say that. These awesome people I will love forever have actually defined who an “outsider” is.
Not me. I’m friends with them, so by default I’m not.
But as per definition, an outsider is someone whose domicile is another state.
Someone who’s gonna work here and move away ultimately.
Who doesn’t have full grasp of the language.
Who doesn’t understand the culture or know the history of this place.

Hello boys. Know this. Even though i'm your friend, as per your definition, I’m an “outsider”

I was born in Gujarat. I have lived in Calcutta for approximately 20 years. And I moved to Pune. Officially, I am domiciled in West Bengal.
there's this friend of mine who supports Pune Warriors despite being Bengali (yeah, you are not allowed to support who you want in the IPL. You should only support your state team). So when he wrote something supporting Pune Warriors as his Facebook status, a very intelligent Maharashtrian said to him -  why are u supporting PW?? u should be supporting KKR.
so my friend replied - home is where the heart is.
same here fellas. My heart is here. It’s right here, within me, loving all these things in Pune that you love too.

I worked in Calcutta and moved away ultimately. Does that mean I cease to be Bengali? And I might not live in Pune forever? So that disallows me to be a Puneite. And I wasn’t old enough to work in Gujarat. So damn!! That means I’m not allowed to be Gujarati either!!

And my knowledge of Bengali is poor. Which means I’m not Bengali again. And I have struggled for two years to learn Marathi, so that I can understand you guys, and be a part of you. Yes, I learnt it in a desperate attempt to fit in. One of those, “when in Rome…”kinda things you know. Unfortunately, learning an entirely new language at age 24 isn’t easy and I think people should cut me some slack here!! So yeah, I’m therefore not Maharashtrian either. Oh, and I don’t speak commendable, grammatically correct Hindi either. Now I’m confused. Does that mean I’m not ‘Hindustani’? Wait, I forgot the whole ‘Hindi shouldn't be our national language’ debate. Whatever. Bottom line, my hoity-toity Bengali household of super smart people ensured that I am fluent in English. So according to my ‘grasp of language’ – I am English?!    

And about culture and history. I am trying to learn what your culture is and what your history is. Unfortunately I don’t yet know all of Bengal's culture and history. That doesn't make me any less Bengali. And I don’t know all of India’s culture and history. That doesn't make me any less Indian. Even YOU don’t know it all. So stop being so supercilious.

Initially I wanted to be a puneite. I wanted to be considered a local person. But if being local means thinking the way you do, I’m sorry, I’d rather be an outsider any day. Atleast we “outsiders” don’t refuse to speak to people coz they don’t talk marathi (or whatever local language). In calcutta, we speak Hindi to people who don’t speak Bengali. Yeah our Hindi sucks and we have a a weird “o” accent to everything, but at least we make an effort to make people comfortable. We don’t rip people off in rickshaws cz they don’t speak bengali. We have fixed rates. We don’t ignore people, or say “you outsiders” on their faces. We show them our culture, and we adopt them as our own. We have, for god’s sake, adopted Mother Teresa!! (or maybe she adopted us, I’m not sure!!) What if we’d told her “no no, YOU outsiders….” Or what if we refused to talk to her coz she didn’t know Bengali??
And anyway, given by the way things have been going it seems like being maharshtrian might just have a direct relation to showing off how much money you have and how many politicians you know.

I don’t wanna be a Puneite anymore. Especially not coz “I’m friends with you guys and thus by default I become Puneite”. Sorry. I’m not gonna be a default citizen. And I’m not gonna let you guys define who I am or where I’m from. I’m Indian, and I’ll earn my right to be an Indian. And anyway, I can’t be Maharashtrian ever. My heart will always be way too big and I’ll always be way too poor to be ever considered as ‘Maharashtrian-worthy’ material. And I don’t even know a corporator here, so I’m disqualified for maharashtrian citizenship to begin with!! oh, and i HATE your beloved vada-pav. sue me!!

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