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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why I feel alienated in my own backyard:

A childhood spent at a north Mumbai place meant I was brought up hearing a variety of dialects ranging from the north to south and from west to east of India. There were these neighbours who were nayars who spoke Malayalam. Go to the temple and there were these Tamil speaking people at the office of the managing committee of the temple. I had two teachers hearing whose gossips in Bengali in the bus we friends were brought up. There were countless people speaking Guajarati , Marathi, Marwari, Punjabi and even the fruit sellars spoke bhojpiri. Throught childhood all customs and traditions of all walks of people were witnessed and experienced too.

In my third standard I was introduced to Marathi as a second language to be learnt. A sense of pride flew immediately when our first teacher asked us students to speak out as much Marathi we knew amongst ourselves while she took rounds to encourage us. The barely 9 year old child was teeming with pride and happiness that he was able to speak a few but words. He could not even put them into proper sentences but his excitement knew no bounds. That was his first brush with a language which he really was proud to learn.

As children we don’t face too much competition and we are open to let go off things and move on. Children also don’t hold grudges and prejudices against anything. But as age catches up no one can remain immune to the pressures of living in an ever competitive world. As a child it matters little if we loose or win –parental pressures put apart- may be because we know the just way to look at things. But as our social obligations increase with age the pressure to perform is more and more. Well this pressure to perform can be seen in various scenarios like- securing admission in a particular course/college, securing a job, having to travel to work in inhuman conditions, not being able to enjoy the luxuries one envies the other about and much more. There is a constant desire to up the ante in many walks of life. For example an average student would want to score more; the brilliant one would want to widen the gap, a better paying/closer-to-home job, comforting travel to work. May be a 41 inch lcd in some ones mind? So as the needs and desires rises so does discontent {sounding spiritual eh! Still true ain’t it?}.

Now discontent rises more if the simple reason you cant up the ante is because there are too many people, so either you are one among many, or you are a pebble amongst rocks. So performance or efforts don’t bear fruits just because of competition. Man becomes short sighted in his discontent and tries to find blames and excuses for the debacles of life. For A city like Delhi which has a population of and a land area of accounting to a population density of we can say that opportunities are definitely less. But what can you say about a city which has three times the population but only a third the area. They are definitely pitted against a pressure that is ever increasing and makes their life completely moribund. The fact that Mumbai average life span is a meager 52.6 for men and 63 for women speaks for itself. 50 percent of the financial capital of the country lives in slums, while most of the rest 50 percent live in kabootar khanas if you know what I mean.

So rest established that lifestyle is just to exist if one explore why such a situation ever occurs its hard to find a particular reason. A complex reason that I can think of is: lack of development and opportunities in some areas and abundance of opportunities concentrated in particular areas coupled with high population in both areas leading to migration of people from low to high-opportunity area leading to increase in population pressure in that certain area which ultimately leads to a survival of fittest scenario. The key to survival is to create breathing space. Just like how one tries to stretch as much as possible in a crowded train, people try to create space by eliminating, or at least try to, competitors. Now if you are travelling and you have your brother one side and an unknown sitting on the other side and it’s a crowded train, is there a need to wonder who you would cramp up. The same way, who does one blame for his or her being one amongst many? Of course it’s the non-brother neighbors who seem artificial {meaning that he feels what’s under his soil belongs to him} for the native who is short sighted by his discontent. Well another reason why the non brother neighbor comes to light is because the unwillingness of that neighbor to mix up with the cultures of the native and rather being content in groups of his own kind. One of the main reasons why Indians in Australia are seen with resent by some Australians. I mean if you are going to play loud music in public places, move in groups of typical behavior, and more than that try to think that you can outsmart them by being in a group and not mix with them definitely means inviting trouble. Well doesn’t the same analogue apply here? Why does one invite the spotlight by being rude, adamant, ill mannered and obtrusive in behavior just because they are in a group? Do they forget that though they have formed a group its just serves to invite the others also to form group which in this case is unmistakably the bigger force than them? I mean of course I will resent it a few students from another place start jeering at me in a way typical of their group. It will give me an impression that they are confronting me as a group even though in reality it might just have been a chance event that all of them were together at that time. But a repetition of the event only will confirm my resent and strengthen a will to hit back. If I were from UP then I would be refraining from spitting paan in public in Mumbai because I know that people from UP have become infamous for paan spitting even tough whole of India does it and I also know that people here consider me alien.

So the resentment has set in between large sects of people so what happens next? POLITICS of course. Of all things politicians do, I feel they do research on their vote bank impeccably. They give voice to the resentment even though they actually should repress it. They give action to the resentment even though their duty is not to let flames erupt. India has aptly been described as a nation with first class constitution and third class governance. Politics here is not based on the constitution; it’s based merely on the alleviation of problems by any means. Even though it’s 5 of your brothers who are crowding you, you can blow the heat only on the 2 non brothers. And all this just because you fail to recognize that those two are also your own distant brothers and are only as distant as the other 5? {meaning migration to Mumbai is 44 percent from inside maharashtra itself then why target north Indians all are brothers right? Indians only na?} Why can’t our countrymen think as a single seamless state rather than thinking as a conglomeration of a billion issues? It hurts to see people motivated by shrewd, chauvinist politicians who are just raising and promising to alleviate the mere drop out of a bigger problem. The bigger problem being population explosion and migration and the lack of development which pushes the migration. These two combined will eat up every thing we have and there will be no one for us to envy because all of us will only exist.

Now a days some people from Mumbai are undergoing a change in thinking. Its one thing to feel proud of being a Marathi when you hear a fellow Marathi reach a pinnacle but its stupid and classless thing to feel proud if some one makes statements against non Marathi people. Well, till these sentiments were not there it was a proud feeling to say people that I was not a tamilian but was a pakka Marathi what if I don’t speak it all to well? I thought the society will embrace me. But chauvinist people are sowing the roots of divide amongst people. People should not respond to such people. Its time we mumbaikars of all walks and classes and societies stop making people alienated in their own backyard.


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  2. this is what i wanted from a pukka MUMBIYA
    hey you would do INDIA proud if u really made people realize what you wrote


    waiting for more :)


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