Millennium Post

A North-Eastern in the un-melting pot of Delhi

One day, a guy walks up to me and asks me if I come from China, a reference that often comes to me naturally with my looks. Not that I have any problem with it but somewhere down the line, it does make a difference.

I told him I come from the north-eastern region, to which he asked whether any visa was required to travel there.  

I forgave him for his ignorance and told him we were the same countrymen and within the Indian territory, we do not require visas.

This account is one of the many occasions that reminds me of how racial, social and cultural differences affect us.

The recent case of brutal murder of Dana Sangma is one more instance that reminds us of the grim reality that somehow, north-eastern people have always been on the peripheries of the society.

People have not completely accepted the differences within the cultural potpourri of Indian society itself.

‘A country within a country’, is what many people acknowledge us with wherever we go.

When I came to Delhi, I came to experience a different culture altogether. Being in Delhi and experiences of racism are hard to dissociate was the first lesson I learned. From being abused to calling names to getting prejudicial comment, it has now slowly become a rite of passage a north-easterner has to undergo.

Only when a person from north-east is raped or murdered do people talk about the problem. But it has beyond doubt become a very important issue as there is no safety for people coming from these regions.

India has always been a home to many different cultures and races but being a north-eastern is a rude awakening for people from these states. Nobody actually knows about the north-east beyond oil fields and tea estates of Assam.

The north-eastern region is marred in obscurity and has become a place outside India. The food habits and cultural ways of life is one of the reason for that. It is weird when people assume that we eat all sorts of worms and insects (spiders included), and that we still live in the stone age.

It is actually quite amusing to know about some prejudiced judgements on us and sometimes we take it to humour them.

I remember precisely, a friend of mine asking me, why does a north-eastern girl keeps mostly to her north-eastern friends. At first I did not know how to answer this and while I was contemplated, he remarked that may be it is also a prejudice that these girls have against them.

To this I told him that a north-eastern girl has always been bold and outspoken in her own society, which has been misinterpreted.

I also realised that the one reason people from north-eastern society keep to themselves is because it keeps them safe and united.

Discrimination on the common ground of being a north-easterner had made them more united.

What I believe as a north-easterner is that every culture and race might be different but we should not forget that we all are ingrained together by a common thread of humanity. And we build a country not by its differences but with the little understanding that we are different and accommodate and recognise each other's unique identity in its own way.
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