I’m part ‘Madrasan’ just like you (Tamil for those who want to know)! And I began to read your post with something akin to amusement because I live in Delhi and am very aware of the foibles of the Dilliwalas. I love it nonetheless for embracing me and giving me a home. About 5 lines down your post, I felt a little ashamed of having ever thought that I was ‘just like you’. It seems nigh impossible to fall that low. For every Daalli boy living in Defence Callony there is a Medraus boy getting up ‘yearly in the maarning’. Why do we as a people deride our own regional accents while swooning over a French accent? Are you ashamed of your skin, accent or your food habits? Then why jeer at theirs? You’re weighed down by your colonial hangover, lady.
Autistic three year old on coke? Witty. And also so compassionate of you to think that a child with a disability is an insult. If you’re playing for the South Indian team, I think you just scored a self goal. For every showy Punjabi I’ve encountered a stingy, parochial Madrasi who won’t invite me into the house for a glass of water. For every caste based temple not allowing people in, there is a gurudwara that will feed you at the langar without bothering to ask after your background or ban your gender. But hey, I really hope the ‘punjabis’ don’t define the whole lot of us by the odd cranky old miser that crosses their path. (And what the hell is wrong with a Happy Gurupurab text message? Admittedly I hate mass SMS saying Happy anything, but why pick on their festival messages when these do the rounds for every occasion including Happy your-mother’s-best-friend’s-toe-surgery-day?!)
You say you come from the land of the ugly? Speak for yourself, sister – I’m cute! And I’ve never understood why people take issue with muscular Punjabi men either – it’s not as though we lovely doe-eyed ladies prefer pot bellies and skinny legs peeping out from under mundus? I for one would never diss my man if he worked out, simply because it’s a ‘punjabi’ thing to do. It is merely the healthy thing to do, so you’re welcome to the shapeless slugs. Or did you mean that South Indian men are by definition, unfit and shapeless? I take offence on behalf of the rather fit men in my family. Honestly, I prefer my men well groomed, not smelling of coconut oil, and definitely no dusty feet in leather slippers. In fact, speaking of working out, did you mention you’re not scrawny? My sympathies – I could offer you the number of a dietician, because genetically we’re blessed to be built much smaller and more petite than the Punjabans and Haryanvis (God bless their souls and the ghee loaded parathas) who have to make an effort to stay fit. So if you have a weight problem maybe you need to get off your soapbox and on to a treadmill. The first thing we women need to do is stop hating other women because we think they’re hotter/ making an effort we’re not willing to. I know I’d rather chomp on my murukku and slurp my coffee than get up and hit the gym – you make your own choices.
As for our guys not being good looking, I object to the apologetic sound of that sentence. I think my dad is dashing (okay, maybe I am a prejudiced daughter!) and my husband is bloody good looking (this one I have on good authority from many women) and both are true blue ‘South Indians’. If we think our men are not goodlooking and that Punjabi men are the gold standard for looks, we have a problem. Actually only you have a problem. I’m okay with leering after men from all around the country, starting with Baichung Bhutia and heading down to John Abraham (he IS part Mallu, you know) and taking a full circle back to Ashutosh Gowariker. Yeah, I’m open minded and fair like that.
What was that again about SUVs and big cars? If I had a buck for every South Indian man who can’t stop talking about his cars and gizmos, I’d be on a cruise instead of wasting my time writing this post right now. Our good old Coimbatore at one point had the highest number of imported cars. You might want to read this.
The open cascading tresses – clearly you haven’t seen a Punjabi woman or even a Sikh man let down his hair, literally, that is. The Bongs can give us a run for our money too, in the eyes and hair department. And sistah, I quite like my shaggy flip out and refuse to buy into the stereotypical long hair and olive skin bullshit. Who are you to define my South Indianness for me? I’m dark and I love it – I don’t need you to sugarcoat it for me. But with people like you sounding apologetic about our looks, it is no wonder we need to import fair skinned actresses for our films. It frustrates me. If our men appreciated us for what we are, we’d not need the ‘northies’ on our screens.
And really girl, did you have to bring up Hema Malini and Sridevi of all women? Them of the adultery, the second marriages, the conversions, the plastic surgery and botox fame? Aishwarya with her annoying accent (it’s probably caused by the smile she got redone) and fake marriage is our claim to fame? I thank you – NOT! Funny how all three of them picked Punjabi and UP men when the time came, huh? Good for them. It just leaves the ‘Madrasi’ men free for us. I got my sweet boy from Karnataka instead of Ash!
One tiny matriarchal community does not a trend make. Have you missed the acid attacks? The dowry we offer for our daughters is mind-numbing. If I’m paying 3 crores for an engineer I’d like him to lose the pot belly and the hair oil please! Colleges with separate benches for boys and girls in salwar kameezes (yes, I can say it like them punjabans!). I’d hardly call that the height of freedom. Fight oppression and violence against women instead of just using statistics to score points against another city. Irrespective of geographical location, it is still our gender being oppressed.
Amma-appa sound cooler than mom-dad to you? How could you be so petty as to pick up on something so ridiculous? Were you running out of real jokes? Bharatnatyam is a higher art form than the gidda or Kathak because you say so? I’m tired of this whole ‘attitude’ we have because to me it reeks of inferiority. And I am damned if I am going to be made to feel inferior about my food, my body, my skin colour or my roots by you. Let’s lighten up, let down the butt length tresses and accept that we play Punjabi music at our discos for fun.
You lost me at the girls doing fake marches (check out what these LSR girls are doing, by the way)? What exactly is it that other college kids are doing that is so much more significant? They’re just college kids, leave them alone to have fun while they can!
What really got to me was the fleeing Pakistan reference. Would any of us consider saying something so heartless about Tibet/Kashmir/Cambodia? Are we so cold as to make a sneering reference to something that was so painful? Partition brought loss, bodies piled up in trains, blood, entire families wiped out … don’t we share history with them? Are you kidding when you say that you come from a defence background? I’m horrified that a girl from a defence background has been brought up to be so divisive. Is this the way the other kids in the armed forces think? I won’t go into statistics of the Sikh regiment and the history of every family giving a son to the army to protect our borders, all while we were sitting around dipping our paruppu vadais in coconut chutney perfecting an attack on the chess board. So yes, we do play a killer game of chess, but oh, we owe them for giving us the safety and luxury to practice it.
As for them not liking our food – are you kidding me? The Brunch carried an article on how the dosa has become the national dish – tit for tat, take that Hindi as official language! You’ll find dosas at every corner stall in Delhi and everywhere else in the country although I must raise an objection to the paneer and Chinese dosas! What if they get started on the image of licking rasam off elbows? Because if we pick on the lowest common denominator to judge them by, they have every right to define us by the elbow lickers.
By the end of your post I was embarrassed for you. For the anger, the bitterness, the hatred and the vulnerability you let slip through. I have no idea what brought it on, but a good bottle of wine and some girl friends and a box of tissues might have been more effective. What you’ve done is unforgivable – you’ve drawn lines and swords and hurt a lot of my ‘Punjabi’ friends. And oh yes, as someone else said – if you don’t want to be called Madrasi (what do you mean you’re part South Indian – you know there are four states, right?), learn to differentiate between Punjabi and Delhiite. Everyone who lives in Delhi is not a Punjabi and not every Punjabi lives in Delhi. That said, everyone is welcome in Delhi, and Munirka and RK Puram are mini-Tamil Nadus themselves. I buy my dosa maav and podi from there.
And finally, I’m appalled by some of your lines – Texas chainsaw massacre your face? Your dead Dadi? Your mother’s shaven bosom? Kalari your tongue up your ass? Shove so many coconuts down you? Classy. Way to lose control of your point and make a fool of yourself. Crass, rabid and divisive is what these statements are. Driving a wedge of hatred where previously there was only a cultural disparity. It’s a pity you fell so low while trying to make a point on superiority or heck, even equality. To quote them Punjabis, you’ve MC-BCed our case altogether in this badly cobbled together, poor attempt at wit, crossing over into coarse, foul and ignoble territory. And you’re dragging the rest of us into the mire as you cross that fine line between wittily irreverent and decidedly crass. Maybe you just need a good nap or a cold glass of coconut water so that you can cool off and consider what you allowed your ire to lead you into.
I apologise to all those offended by Ms Shahana’s little hissy fit here. We have our good and we have our bad and to attack prejudice with prejudice is not the way the rest of us South Indians work. I need to get back to cracking my IIT now. Apparently Shahana thinks I have no other choice or mind of my own. Now where did I put my pen – in my Fendi bag or my Gucci clutch? Oh wait, I couldn’t possibly know the difference, stereotypical Madrasi chick that I am.
And oh, Shahana, I have a request. In future, do not presume to write on behalf of all Madrasis. Not all of us are quite as bigoted or rabid.
MM (I proudly spell it Yem-Yay-Dee, Yem-O-Yem-Yem-Yay), yet another mocha coloured Madrasan married to a sweet fayer Sawth Indian boy.
PS: Okay lets kiss and make up, North and South Indians. In fact let’s drag the Pakistanis into this big group hug with this lovely song – Hona Tha Pyar.