Textures of India, South and North

Textures of India, South and North

When I moved from Kanpur to Bangalore eons ago, most locals referred to anybody from Northern India as being “from Delhi.”. This used to miff the Bengalis, the Kashmiris, the Rajasthanis and the Gujaratis I knew who each have their distinct identities; having grown up in India’s most populous state of Uttar Prades, I was used to dividing my state-mates as Bulandshahari, Rohilkhandi, Bundelhkhandi, Gorakhpuri; in my home town we also had the “immigrant” displaced by the creation of Pakistan, mostly Sindhis and Sikhs;

Our neighbor, Mr. Sankaran was from from Hyderabad (India not Hyderabad Pakistan, as his daughter Jaya clarified to me when I was six) and from their family we learned to enjoy dosas and idlis, at a time when most people in Kanpur did not even know what these food items were.

My friend and classmate Ajay Banerjee just sent me a wonderful blog post from a south Indian person about current stereotypes among North Indians relating the their Southern compatriots.  I have some excerpts below, but you will enjoy reading the whole thing. This is important for Americans doing  business in India, because you can’t really look at India as a monolithic culture or economy. The texture is important in many ways, especially if you are planning to sell products or services there. BTW Mamtadidi is the nickname for the virulent Chief Minister of West Bengal, Ms. Mamata Banerji. “Illay Illay Po” is the pejorative way that many north Indians refer to the speech of Tamilians (when they don’t understand what the Tamilians are saying), Chidambaram is P. Chidambaram, India’s Harvard-educated Finance Minister, who is usually seen wearing a veshti (which might look like a long skirt to the un-initiated), see photo below. And if you think the unstitched sheet of a veshti is limiting in any way, check out the photos on this link

Chidambaram in dhoti

FROM Mrigank Warrier’s blog….

Yes, you who revel in South Indian stereotypes. You who believe that we ‘Madrasis’ actually say ‘Yenna Rascalla’ out loud.

Read, and learn.

1. Geography: ‘South’ is a direction; Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are states. Hubli is in Karnataka, Hooghly in Paschimbanga. Tirupati, Tirunelveli and Thiruvananthapuram are not baaju baaju mein. And Sri Lanka is more than a paddle-boat ride away.

2. Languages: ‘Andu-Gundu-Naaru-Gundu’ may have profound meaning in modern Haryanvi, but is gibberish in Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil and Tulu. ‘South Indian’ is not a language – Tamilians will comprehend Telugu the day Mamtadidi spouts Gujarati. It kills me when you blurt out ‘Illay Illay Po’, and howl, as though what translates to ‘No No Go’ is somehow tremendously funny.

5. People: who speak Kannada are called Kannadigas, not Kanadians. Yes, we’re pretty good at English. No, we aren’t all nerds. We’re conservative. We’re liberal too. Figure it out.

6. Appearance: Living closer to the Equator doesn’t scorch our skin; we too can boast of Vanity Fair. Chidambaram is an oddity – many of us have been known to venture out in pants.

Read the entire post here


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