Sohan is a small town boy who has recently migrated to a metropolis. He is from Keonjhar, a lesser known place from the lesser known state of the country. He seems to be an extremely interesting subject, with loads of interesting subjects for us to explore within him as he explores the world outside. Sohan is just 19 years old and has come to this mega city to study Fine Arts. He seems like a very fun person for his friends- really hep and happening and definitely not easy for anyone to guess that he is from a different culture. I heard of interesting issues through common friends who belong to the same community and are otherwise perceived as shy, quiet and dumb. I got hold of Sohan in the lobby of his art school and had a pretty good chat in the college cafeteria. Below is excerpt from our conversation.
“Hi Sohan, how do you find this city?”
“Great! Awesome place! Kickass people!”
“Do you miss home?”
“Well… yes & no. I miss my parents & mom’s food. But otherwise, I think I am happier here.”
“Oh, how so?”
“You know, I am living the life that I used to see only on TV at home. What else can someone ask?”
“Yeah thats true!”
I wondered for a while, this guy doesn’t seem to have any issues in life presently. Then where the hell did the issues, mentioned by our common friends, come from? His life sounded too perfect to be true and I was determined to know more. I continued my interrogation.
“Who are your best friends?”
“ Loads, actually. Paramjeet, Amar, Tushar, Prem, Nitin and many more.”
“What do you like about them?
“They are smart dudes and know how to enjoy life. With them life is about the future!”
“Cool. Where are they from?”
“Most of them are Punjabis from either Delhi or Mumbai.”
“And any friends from your home state?”
“No… I mean I know a few, but not really friends with them”
“Any particular reason?”
“They are conservative, boring and stingy. They definitely have no idea of how to enjoy life like me & my friends. I somehow feel underestimated by my friends whenever I am with my community’s people”
“Oh. Really?! Why so?”
“Don’t know. They are so boring & dumb.”
“And don’t your friends ever ask you how come you are so cool?”
“Yes, and they say that I can easily pass off as a Punjabi boy!”
“Because I am fair-skinned!”
“Aaahhh! I see..! So you think dark people from your community are boring?
“The only thing that I can say is that my people are not self confident and it definitely does not help my image to be around them.”
“So are you happy to be perceived as a Punjabi or any other caste thats not your own?”
“Yes why not. People don't recognise my community, my state or hometown. I don't want to be a joke, I dont want to be recognised as some tribe.”
Hmmm. Fair enough! I wondered. And he was not entirely wrong, though. I could relate to it myself and my observations in the past. Being of fair skin is definitely a confidence-booster in the Indian community! Suddenly the universe started making sense to me and all its secrets were revealed!!! The fair skinned child gets the parents’ preference, the teacher gives him/her the benefit of doubt and everybody notices them in admiration. They are perceived as superior and rich. So naturally, just being fair-skinned can give a lot of self belief. Therefore, in India, being fair is 70% battle won! That was just my opinion but without a proof, though.
So does being from the north simply seal the deal? Clearly so! People undoubtedly admire the northern race & thats why, probably, this race dominates the media & entertainment industry, particularly on-camera exposure. I did a research where I listed the names of all the people whose photos appeared on glamour magazines, advertisements & newspaper segments over a period of 1 month. The photos included those of film stars, sportstars, models and other celebrities. Then I traced all their roots to their place of racial origin. Not surprisingly almost 85% of the people were either from around the region in and around Punjab (punjab, haryana, delhi, kashmir) or of persian origin (afghan, sindhi, parsi) or westerners (spanish, italians americans etc). The rest 15% were non-north indians who either had north indian appearance or had achieved well for themselves.
As I conclude this story, I don't really have a conclusion. Should I pity youngsters like Sohan for not being confident enough to be proud of their community? Or should I pity the majority of Sohan's community for looking the way they are and just hope that they understand that life might be slightly tougher for them?