Pink Plastic Pearls

are metamorphosing into something else

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Chasing pills called Alan Parson's Project with a drink called Franz Ferdinand

Do you have a bunch of witty answers for those most-commonly asked questions? I know I do. After I moved here a lot of people asked me what I thought of the place. And after a little while, a couple of weeks of getting acquainted, I figured a good way to describe it would be: "It's like Delhi with fewer cows."

It's all the better if these wise-guy ones tell a person exactly what they want to know. Now many of you have a pretty fair idea about what Hyderagood is really like.

Which really brings me to the most-commonly-asked-question-that-pisses-me-off-the-most: "Where are you from?"

Now don't be fooled by this seemingly innocuous question. This isn't a question that's asking where all you have lived, or been in life. For many Indians it helps peg you. Its answer provides a strong context to the tendencies you exhibit, and predicts the ones you are going to exhibit. Of course, it could also mean that you discuss the commonalities, should that be the case. This way you reinforce cultural stereotypes that have been built over time. "Oh, so you're from Delhi... dude TC is a awesome place...", or "Where in Bombay? Bandra? ALL RIGHT!... which college? XAVIERS?! ME TOO! WOW! WHAT ARE THE ODDS!"

Cut to the scene where the Delhi-ite meets the Bombaywala (or wali... wali is better, because the first thought that crosses her mind when she meets somebody "from Delhi" is "rapist"... or "slut"):

Male (from Delhi): So where you from?
Femme (from Bombay): Bombay.
M: Oh, I see. *Delhi chicks are hotter man*
F: What do you see?
M: Eh?
F: What do you see? *Is this guy dumb or what*
M: Nothing... whaaat?
F: Nevermind... You said you 'Oh, I see', but whateverrrr *loserrrr*
M: Oh that. Nothing, nothing... I thought I'd seen you in Delhi sometime.
F: *Delhi! No wonder. Rapist. And what a cheesy line! Best storm off now before he gets fresh*

*Exuent*

Okay fine, that wasn't quite how it happened. I did get the girl, and now we're happy together, but it's worth trying to piss her off about the Delhi-Bombay thing every once in a while, she's so cute when she's miffed.

But anyway... coming back the painful interrogative...

When somebody says where he or she is from, a whole bunch of things happen to us Indians.

Delhi Male - Must be rich. Doesn't know the reality of life. Dad's business. No cares in the world. Hasn't had it hard for a single day in his life. Disrespectful of women. Good to know in a fight, should have gunda & political contacts.

Delhi Female - Possibly poor sense of taste/style/fashion. Needs to look in the mirror. Possibly not very independent. Gets chauffered everywhere, home by 11pm. Alternatively, the other extreme: rebelious, colourful, slut.

...really, I could go on, but don't believe me: try it for yourselves, the next time you meet anybody new. Or just think about Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bombay, Marus... and those images these words conjure up are what we use as support in this world of shortcuts.

So what's got me so pissed? The fact that I can't seem to answer this question without people's minds going into overdrive, or them really needing to ask me a lot more questions.

*Ting*

Person X: So where are you from?
Me: Delhi
X: Raped anybody yet?

*Ting!*

X: So where are you from?
Me: I grew up in China
X: How come you aren't chinky?

*Ting!*

X: Where are you from?
Me: Moon
X: What's that?
Me: That's my school. I spent 12 years locked up in a building with only one window on each floor.
X: Oh THAT school! Hey, so could you gimme a loan?

*Ting-ting-ting!*

X: Where are you from?
Me: I'm a North-Indian mongrel.

*So now I'm a mangy mutt. Great. Ting!*

Me: I'm a North-Indian mixed-bred

*Great going, Tommy. Ting!*

Me: I don't know.
X: WHAT?

*Ting!*

X: Well?
Me: So my mom's mom is from Jharkhand, and my dad's dad is from Haryana, while the two surviving grandparents are..
X: Zzzzz....

*Ting!*

The worst part of it all is that every new person I meet, without frikking fail, will ask me where I'm from, because they can't make an educated guess from my name...

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5 Comments:

At Monday, March 03, 2008 2:00:00 PM , Blogger nisha said...

er..so where are you from?

 
At Tuesday, April 01, 2008 8:01:00 PM , Anonymous Salil said...

Hey a blog with Pearl Jam, love and confused roots.

Hey Kasewa!

Last I met you, we were singing Paranoid Android in your car. With guitar solos. Poor Chinmay, he sat patiently through the whole thing.

 
At Friday, April 04, 2008 2:46:00 AM , OpenID thesaurusrex said...

Hee hee. What fun. I like to know where people are from. In general each region has sufficient diversity that there is room for surprise, but by knowing this, all the subsequent observations can be categorized as reinforcing or contradicting the old cliche.

My sister, on the other hand, often doesn't even ask for her friends surnames, and wouldn't really try to figure out where the name came from anyway.

 
At Friday, May 16, 2008 4:42:00 PM , Anonymous Jagannath said...

It's "exeunt", Kasewa, not "exuent." My heartfelt apologies for being a pedant, but I couldn't resist.

 
At Saturday, December 13, 2008 8:45:00 PM , Blogger J. said...

Does Lagos figure?

This is very funny! Just yesterday somebody asked me where I was from and was fine with Lucknow till I said Iyer.

Jagannath just gave me your blog address, long time. I used to be small fry last time I saw you :D

Jyoti
(Jag's sister, in case you're particularly dense today :D)

Viva la cyberspace!

 

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