There are many stereotypical clashes and ideological divides in the world. We, as humans are divided into little clans of our own creation, on the basis of our opinions on everything from food to spirituality. And one of these gazillion divides is the North Indian – South Indian divide. Nobody knows its origin or its rationale, but all we know is that people often get highly passionate and defensive about their side of the story. And the issue has been sensationalized to the point that we have begun to believe that it is completely impossible for South Indians and Non-South Indians to live together in harmony.
And this was exactly what I was told when I first expressed the desire to shift to Bangalore for the purpose of my undergraduate education. Typical Gujarati relatives of all ages, ideologies and relations tried to scare me out of the idea by making statements like, “You will have to eat idli and dosa everyday.”, “Those people are very rude. They won’t even include you in their group.” and “How will you survive there? You don’t even know malayalam and they will refuse to speak in Hindi.” Long story short, I was being convinced everyday that the South is like a foreign land, which has a totally different culture and those who have a culture different from theirs are outcasted and scorned at. And so, when I finally came to Bangalore, I was determined to find a few Punjabis and Marwadis in my circle and cling to them like a dying man holds on to a raft.
But six months down the line all of my closest friends are South Indians and what’s more, they make me feel more at home than I ever could have expected to. And what’s more, some of them even know enough Hindi to hold a whole conversation by themselves. They (to my nosy aunt’s utter surprise) even sing Bollywood songs these days in my honour. They don’t scorn at me when I don’t understand a Kannada idiom and ask them to translate it to English. They’re eager to try the kind of food that is ‘home’ for me and just as eager to introduce me to their kind of food. And believe me, south Indian food is so much more than just dosa and idli.
When we talk about “South India”, we’re talking about almost half of country, so let’s not just trap a thousand subtle variations of a culture into just one box of stereotypes and claim it as one alien to our own. So today, as we talk about accepting people of neighbouring countries as our brothers on just the basis of a thread of shared history, let’s not alienate the ones who are, still, a part of our home.