Aug 26, 2009

Whats in a surname

Let me on the onset admit that this is not a review of any movie but the fact is that I saw Kaminey last week and loved it to the core. It’s THE movie of recent times for sure. It had just the right combination of everything and made a perfect treat for hungry eyes, ears and minds.
A fistful of darkness
Liberal sprinkle of humor
Loads of guffaws
Earful of lovely music
Mouthful of awesome lyrics
2 hours of hot masala
And Tears to taste (for insane people like me, who can cry seeing a cute hero getting beaten up!)
All these made to simmer over brilliant direction made for something not to be missed.
But then this dish is like the continental and exotic serve. Either you have the taste for it and will love it. Or you will not! Simple. There have been a couple of my friends who have felt let down and have been found exclaiming “paisa bhi hum kharch karein aur bheja bhi? “ (Meaning why should we spend money as well as brains? ;) You get the drift!
I will not go into the storyline or a review here since I feel too inadequate for that. I am not one of those who can observe and comment on the nuances. You can read many of the brilliant posts already published.
The point of the post here is one among the many points which was raised in the movie- that of division on the basis of region.
I have already written once against the anti-north-indian attitude of certain politicians in Maharashtra. This movie beautifully brings forth the issue without dwelling too much upon it and yet making sure that it makes its presence felt.
But isn’t it true in our everyday affairs to categorize a person solely based on his surname and/or region, especially so in India. This categorization is not on the basis of external characteristics but more on traits.
I remember my growing up years in Delhi. My father had a shrewd, calculating, bully of a colleague who also happened to be a Sindhi. Needless to say, one of the favorite dialogues mouthed by my father was “trust a snake, but never trust a Sindhi” while I listened attentively and processed the information for future usage!
My father being a Palakkad Iyer, obviously has good words for his brethren. Oh, they are the neatest lot and the most hardworking at that.
After shifting to Mumbai, I started attending my PG classes. During one of the classes the Maharashtrian teached started rattling off in Marathi in answer to a query from a student. He did not even bother to notice that a few of us could hardly make head or tail of the conversation! Irked by this, one of my Tamil friends remarked “These marathi people are just so ill mannered. They start chattering in their language irrespective of other people around”.
It was quite ironic that years later, another of my juniors, who happened to be a Marathi, and working in Chennai, called me up and started complaining over the same issue- that in meetings, everyone starts speaking in Tamil while she has to look around clueless!
How can I forget to mention Gujjus. When I got to stay in Gujarat, there were ofcourse the typical statements like “oh these lazy gujjus. They sleep all through the afternoon!” Or, “These people live to eat”.
Ever wondered why is it that certain traits are attributed to regions?
Why is it that Maths teachers are generally Tamilians? Why are nurses and stenos from Kerala? Why are the most famous singers of Bollywood from Bengal? Why are most of the successful businessmen from Gujarat? Why are many of the soldiers from Gurkhaland?
Maybe regions do have an effect on the nature. Could it be that climatic conditions play a role in conditioning all this? Or is it the food habits that have been passed from generation to generation? Is it the traditions, the customs behind the display of such typical characteristics?
Here is the summary of various tidbits I collected based partly on hearsay and partly by observation.
1. Punjabi (Punjus)
Loving, believe in PDA (public display of affection), exhibitionists, Spend more than they can afford (you can see from their grand marriages)
2. Biharis
Polite Hindi speaking, more inclined towards public services and politics, hardworking.
3. Malayalees ( Mallus)
Systematic, Neat, Short-tempered, would readily help other mallus, a clos community.
4. Maharashtrians (Marathis)
Culture loving, fanatics (for good and for bad), extremely loyal to their state.
5. Bengalis (Bongs)
Like Marathis, these people love their state, language and culture, artistically oriented, a bit loud, believe-in-me-first, again a close community
6. Gujratis (Gujjus)
Laid back, great business mind, live-to-eat, loud
7. Tamilians (madrasi)
Religious, artistically inclined, good sloggers, timid (save a few politicians), too rigid, less tolerant.
There are exceptions to the rules but I feel that nature of a person is the resultant of the environment he is growing up in and that very well constitutes the region.
But having said all the above, the fact remains that India of today is changing for sure. There are people like me who are basically metro-born-and bred, who have mixture of habits borrowed from all around. So, this hybrid breed is surely breaking all the rules that have no basis. And till such time, this hybrid breed takes over India, we will keep having fight between states and our neighbours would keep using such differences as a weapon against us!
Jai Ho!
Take a look at this for a hilarious note on mallu habits
As for Bongs, read this for a good laugh

p.s. the mudra on the header is mine... some 20 years back. Gosh, even I cant believe it!


Smita August 26, 2009 at 11:20 PM  

Two posts in two weeks? *faints yet again*

Lavs August 27, 2009 at 12:56 AM  

Reading you after a long time. The mudra looks very graceful..long slender fingers and cute nails..Now I realise why your daughters are into Bharathnatyam.

Vee August 27, 2009 at 4:37 AM  

Kitna kuchh keh daala in one single post.

Bang on about linking it with continental. You like it or don't. Simple.

And isn't that common everywhere? I see Kannadigas or Tamilians or Bongs or anyone switching to their respective language when they spot a one from their part of world; ignoring us (outsiders) out rightly. This happens most in the corporate world. I do not face same outside work. If I am conversing in Hindi and someone doesn't understand Hindi I switch to English to make person understand. Simple. Can't people have that much courtesy. And trust me, once I ridiculed my ex-manager in front of everyone for this annoying habit of his.

Honestly, I do not see that happening. All these people about whom I spoke above are metro born and bred.

Angel's Flight August 27, 2009 at 6:36 AM  

Lovely Mudra! U should put some pictures of ur dancing days! btw I love the look of ur blog

And thanks a ton for the laughs today!

couchpapaya August 27, 2009 at 7:14 AM  

the mudra is so elegant! i second the pics of dancing days request ...

lol at all ur observations ... i have realised that whenever we meet someone new we generally do an analysis of the surname, where they're from etc. not as a means of judging, i think it's more for the familiarity index.

avdi August 27, 2009 at 7:50 AM  

I guess being Indians we cant help judging on basis of our region/caste etc. Though I am a Punju I do it happily for punjabis as well. You got the prime characteristics of a Punju bang on.

Your random thoughts are very valuable to us. And Please Note We Are No Longer In MS, so my taarif is genuine. (No BS - B**k Scra******)

Bedazzled August 27, 2009 at 9:42 AM  

good to c u back in action again !! maybe climate has an effect on psyche of people in a region !!

Smita August 27, 2009 at 7:53 PM  

Such a bang on post!!! I totally agree with you on all points!!!

I guess it all boil down to the fact that we have not able to raise ourselves above regionalism!!!

BTW Am I allowed to add my valuable knowledge about the traits of diff ppl from diff state??? I am sure u understand what I am talking about :D

Waiting for a favorable response from you :D

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? August 27, 2009 at 11:42 PM  

The mudra is the first thing I noticed here today! L.O.V.E.L.Y.

Yaayy! You're back!

While I agree with a lot of what you've written, here are a few more character traits of the Bangali:
1) While we are close knit, it's only when it comes to chatting, gossiping and having an adda session. Otherwise, we are known to be crabs -- one Bengali will never help another one succeed.

2) We live to eat!

3) We are deathly afeared of the dreaded cold!!

vimmuuu August 28, 2009 at 3:24 AM  

Thats your hands up in the header??? I tell you, thats a very unparliamentary sign you are exhibiting with your fingers !!! Che! che!

As for the post, again Che! Che! creating regionlistic divides, huh? Being a mallu, I agree with wahtever you had written there. Some more that normally think we are - womanisers, shrewd, self centered, alcoholics, etc. I hate it when people generalise mallus on those aspects !

Renu August 28, 2009 at 2:46 PM  

very relevant post I also faced the same langauge conversations whenevr I lived in bengal, maharashtra and now south. Even my nephew who studies in
Bang. says that spometimes teacher starts talking in tamil or kannada and we just dont know what happening and when we bring her attention to this, she gets irritated:)

BTW you havent written the characteristics of other north Indians..non punjabis:)

DDmom August 28, 2009 at 5:59 PM  

Where had you been? (okay.. I should not be asking that question). Good one. Am not a metro-born-and-bred, but a northi lived most of my life in South, so technically the hybrid :) The next generation might break all barriers and stereotyping. But other kinds might emerge, north facebook.. south orkut kinds. pj. he he.

No enigma here. I'm your girl-next-door August 29, 2009 at 8:42 AM  

Well, what can I say? I am a Sikh married to a Hindu, living in a building owned mostly by Sindhis, working in a company owned by Gujjus, and have mostly Marathis/Muslims/Christians for colleagues. My maid is a Tamilian who came to Mumbai 15 years ago as a young bride and still can't speak proper Hindi/Marathi. And the beauty of it is that we manage wonderfully!
I have seen my Muslim colleagues gratefully accept ‘prasad’ from people who’ve been to Shirdi or Siddhivinayak (contrary to allegations otherwise)...and the Christians never fail to bring Easter eggs for all of us.
Isn't that what makes India a wonderful potpourri of cultures (with lots of local quirks and idiosyncrasies thrown in)? Btw, loved your post! :)

doctoratlarge September 1, 2009 at 6:59 PM  

While surnames give a clue to a person's character, they often make one prejudiced to his/her other atypical qualities.
nice post. overall you have a well-organized blog. and your writing style is smooth and elegant.

Hip Grandma September 2, 2009 at 7:46 PM  

we Tamilians are so timid that we dare not support a fellow Tamilian even if he/she is at the receiving end.We can only advise our fellowmen to stay away from trouble.Except for politicians it is useless having a Tamilian at the helm.They end up troubling their kith and kin more than bosses from other communities.

Anonymous,  September 3, 2009 at 11:28 AM  

Nice observations and thoughtful insights.
Bengali’s rather use easy to remember terms for referring people, which deserves a separate post.

Suma September 3, 2009 at 6:14 PM  

nice observations...peopel look at me and ask 'are you a northindian"
why? because i have light eyes...!

i mus try to watch kaminey, heard too much about it!

two posts in a row...i'm luving it :D

Suma September 3, 2009 at 6:15 PM  

wow! love the elegant mudra

Anonymous,  September 4, 2009 at 11:57 PM  

Kaminey taught me one thing for sure. There is as much need for 'Kameen-sense' on the street as there is a need for 'common-sense'.

Lovely new getup for your blog. 'Mudra communications' looks surreal :-)

WhatsInAName September 5, 2009 at 11:14 AM  

Phew! Finally finally I get to reply to the comments!
Sorry friends, I have been a bit busy with parents visit.

Smita :)
Yes, regionalism is what India actually needs freedom from. and regionalism is what some selfish corrupt politicians take advantage of!
BTW why dont u write ur views as a post :p I do understand what you are talking about, lekin the problem is I cant handle riots in my place ;)

Lavs :)
Welcome back after a long time (as if I have been posting very regularly ;) Yups, I tried to transfer my passion to my girls but the tragedy is they are not too serious and I dont want to force it.

Vee :)
Yeah a friend did say the same you have. Too many things in one post! But this is what happends when you post after a long time hehehe And you are right about people not changing. I see the same around me!

Shalini ;)
Thanks for the compliment. Yeah, maybe I will scan my old snaps soon. I miss the days of dancing for the shows!

CP :)
Familiarity index, yes but I feel that we become judgemental as well. And if the other person belongs to "OUR" region, well, dont we actually feel happy and more friendly? :)

Avdi :)
So sweet. Thanks a ton and I know your comments are always genuine. Short and sweet to be precise. About Punjus, I love their happy-go-lucky attitude. Wish some of that rubs off on me!

WhatsInAName September 5, 2009 at 11:38 AM  

Bedazzled :)
Yeah, I really feel climate has an effect. Maybe the heat of Tamilnadu makes us more sleepy ;)

Mama-mia :)
hehe Thanks a ton for thr compliment. lol at the additions. Are bongs really afraid of cold? You must visit Udtahaathi's post on Bong traits. I think you will enjoy it :)

Vimmuu (I am all confused about no of m's and u's :p)
If you are trying to provoke me for a fight I will live upto my name now which you already know by now ;) Om!!!!

Renuji :)
NorthIndians? Frankly I am not able to pinpoint at exact characteristics except that their Hindi is superb! Can you share your ideas on same? :)

DDMom :)
So good to see you here. Please write more, I miss your posts. And about next generation, yeah they will surely break the barriers. As it is with so many cross regional marriages, the cultures are getting thankfully mixed up now

Simran :)
That was a beautiful comment which enhanced my post. Yups, this is what makes our country special. Touchwood. Hope we stop breeding differences and concentrate on loving each others culture.

Doctoratlarge :)
I feel honoured to have your comments here. Yups we are prejudiced and I think our next gen will surely be more open minded.

Hipgmom :)
Thanks for that wonderful comment. You are bang on about Tamilians. We are a coward lot. Something like veetula puli veliye yeli :D

~uh~ :)
Yups I read your post and loved it. Will be there with my comment soon :)

Suma :)
I guess you are blessed to have a general Indian look rather than regional one! I have a typical Tamil look with a mix of typical punju and marathi accent ;)

Thanks for the compli. hehe. And yeah as a kameen man you do need some kameen sense. You will like the movie, me thinks!

Intrepid Dreamer September 9, 2009 at 1:22 PM  

Hi, I am surely going to watch Kaminey now (was in two minds before. Your summary is pretty much spot on. I remember the first time I had to live outside Kerala (Having grown up entirely in Kerala) I was shocked at the preconceived notions that people of other states had about us but at the same time wised up to the prejudices that we Malayalis have about folks from other states.

Bouncing-Bubble September 10, 2009 at 9:26 PM  

so u wake up when i'm in deep slumber eh? i usually try not to generalise ppl on the basis of language/caste, but sadly, have found some such common remarks to be true

Lavender September 17, 2009 at 3:11 PM  

trust a snake but don't trust a sindhi ? :P
wtf lol

Anonymous,  September 23, 2009 at 11:28 PM  

Loved the last lines... me... basically metro-born-and bred, ... mixture of habits borrowed from all around. ...this hybrid breed is surely breaking all the rules that have no basis. And till such time, this hybrid breed takes over India, we will keep having fight between states and our neighbours would keep using such differences as a weapon against us!

I believe this too. It will happen and should happen, only then will we see real peace and unity. But we will also see attempts to stop this from happening, because each group is a vote bank too.

Anonymous,  September 23, 2009 at 11:32 PM  

And I loved Kameenay :)

Dreamer September 25, 2009 at 5:37 PM  

Hi, I liked your blog a lot. So I have an award for you :). Please do visit my blog to collect it.

WhatsInAName September 28, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

Dreamer :)
Thanks a ton for that award. Means a lot to me. Will put it up on my blog soon.

Bouncy ;)
lol. Yeah I do wake up once a while. BTW, the regional bias sadly does exist!

Lavender ;)
hehehe I think u r a Sindhi?

IHM :)
Thanks for the compli and yeah, vote bank is the only reason this difference isnt going away!! November 1, 2009 at 1:39 AM  

me a punju :) looks like a keralite :) behaves like a baniya and eats like a bong ! :)

Mama - Mia November 4, 2009 at 2:59 PM  

i guess over a period of time things will keep change. and yes, while there re exceptions, most of the rules apply! :D

ofcos considering the amount of gaalis i am getting for not bothering to teach Cub Marathi, i am an exception! hehe!

brilliant post!! i thought you had just stopped writing!



Vidooshak November 25, 2009 at 4:10 PM  

This post hit a spot. Having been born in the South and lived in the West, I am amused when ppl call me North Indian. On one hand, I have no culture I'll die (or kill) for. On the other, I'm privy to more cultures than the most chauvinist of my friends. My son will be even less North Indian than me, yet he'll always be the Outsider.

The reason these stereotypes work is because they give you an economic advantage. Just like the old boys network or short skirts at work ;)

That example from your class, where birds of a feather chirp together, shows perfectly how we are all shame shame no different.

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