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North bothered!

Delhi is not ‘made in North india’. It is that great melting pot in which all of India bubbles away merrily, writes Preeti Singh.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2009 21:57 IST
Preeti Singh

So, North India is a rude kingdom, and Delhiites are king. As a proud member of that amorphous and rowdy bunch — being a red-blooded North Indian and a Delhiite to boot — I take serious exception to this generalisation. Not because it might not be at least partially true, but because the rest of India is ill-qualified to pass judgement on the state of affairs up here.

In a country where everyone living in or bearing affiliation to the north of the Vindhyas is referred to as ‘Punjabi’ by those living on the other side of these mountains — better known as ‘Madrasis’ — I wonder if either of the two sides, each unable to put their cultural uniqueness in perspective, has the right to blame the other for anything.

The aggressive North Indian is as much of a hyperbole as the Bengali who majored in Kafka at kindergarten; or the genteel South Indian rocket scientist whose worldview is softer than an appam; or the fiery Jat who can throw a gallon of scotch down the hatch faster than you can say ‘tau’; or the hard-working and spirited Mumbaikar, blissfully unaffected by the carnage and chaos all around him; or the ‘ultra-liberal’ and ‘wild’ party people who are tucked away in the north-eastern corner of India.

As a kid, I went for a summer holiday to the south of India and I may well have been in France, for they refused to speak any language but their own. Later, in my university years I often struggled to come to terms with most of my north-eastern friends who referred to me as ‘you Indian’. Well, sadly, that’s how it is sometimes.

So rudeness has little to do with Delhiites or North Indians — contrary to the conclusion of a prime time news show last week, in which a highly skewed panel dismissed all North Indians as rude in a holier-than-thou discussion. I admit I can be aggressive too. But where would this nation be without that wonderful blend of aggression and sagacity that no one state or region can claim as its own? Delhi does not carry a label that says ‘Made in North India’. It can’t, because it is that
great melting pot in which a bit of all of India bubbles away merrily. Just as Bombay is not Mumbai’s alone.

On a partisan note, I wonder if our butter chicken would taste just as good if there wasn’t a North Indian aggressively shoving malai into the pot. Or whether the Indian economy would be growing at such a rapid pace if it weren’t for pushy Punjabi shopkeepers shaming their customers into buying kitschy merchandise after plying them with a year’s worth of street food... and not holding it against them if all they walk out with is a handkerchief on discount.

Well, all you Northie-bashers should go back and read that bright bit of research published in last week’s Nature, which suggests there might be a little bit of North and South in all Indians. And that’s just the way it is.