Yesterday there was a young girl holding up the line at the entrance to the airport where the security guards stop you to check your identity. She wished the security guards a Happy Diwali, and then got talking to them about how disappointed she was that this being the festive season and all, no one *here* wished her or responded to her wishes with enthusiasm. Oh, I forgot to mention, we were at the airport in the capital city of Kerala, and she obviously wasn’t from the state.
Both the guards were drawn into a conversation with her, holding up those behind, which at the moment happened to be only me. I was about to intervene and ask the second guard to check my credentials and let me through. If they wanted to have conversations about Diwali, they shouldn’t have been at their posts on duty. And she was also blocking the way standing in the center with her trolley of bags.
Gawd, I dislike people who are oblivious to others and think the world is all about them. Luckily for me, the second guard was conscientious enough to remove himself from the cosy tête-à-tête just about then and wave me over to his side, politely asking Ms Talkative to move aside for me. She had to be ASKED to move aside. Can you beat that?
Later on, while waiting to collect my things after security check, I heard her
whining complaining voice again. Idhar koi wish nahi karta bhaiyya! (No one wishes you here, brother). I rolled my eyes. No, not again, I thought. I had already heard her at the ticketing counter. In all this was the third time within an hour that evening.
This time around she was talking to the staff doing the security check on hand luggage. Having first wished them loudly, she was soon into her spiel about how *this place* was so devoid of the Diwali spirit, no one had wished her, blah, blah, blah, blah….. The staff who were all mostly from out of state like her (same as the guards at the entrance), smiled politely, agreeing with her. She even got some of them involved in conversation with her though they were on duty, which meant things slowed down for others (The staff were as much to blame for that!).
I admit I resented the fact that she was keeping people from discharging their duty efficiently and also causing delay to others. But what really amazed me was her ignorance (and Assumptions with a capital A), though in truth, why I should be, I don’t know. What with the advent of internet and social media, it is very much on display, and on a much larger scale, making you lose respect for pillars of society you once admired as also opening your eyes to the bigotry and stupidity among your friends and family.
Her ignorance of India’s diversity is cringe-worthy. India is not made up of just those states which celebrate Diwali on a large scale. There are others, like the tiny state of Kerala down south, where it is not celebrated in the same scale or in the same manner. True, Keralites burst firecrackers, have an oil bath, wear new clothes may be, but that’s about it. Apart from some of those who have resided out of Kerala, and certain sections of the populace whose tradition it is, none else even light lamps for Diwali.
The girl’s assumption that the whole of India celebrates Diwali the same way showcases a larger problem. Of Indians knowing zilch about those living in other states of their own country. Of some Indians NOT WANTING to know or UNWILLING to accept that anything apart from their ways exist at all. Diwali is so important to them, so it must be, SHOULD be, for every other Indian, is their way of thinking. Never mind that Keralites lights lamps for a different festival called Karthika, or that Onam and Vishu mean more to them than Diwali.
The truth is, I would have commiserated with her if the girl had said she missed the gaiety of Diwali while down in Kerala (she probably worked in one of those IT companies or was down on business). Everyone misses the way festivals are celebrated at home when they are away somewhere. But no, she was miffed that Keralites did not display the same level of excitement for a festival that was important to her, not pausing to think maybe, just maybe it wasn’t as important to them?
Sad that in these times of ease of communication, with every kind of knowledge at our fingertips, programs on visual media showcasing the highlights from different regions, not to mention the opportunity to visit different parts of the country, the fact that we are a nation of diverse people is not appreciated in the true sense. Especially by the young. Yes, especially by the young people, who have more access to information and opportunities to travel than the previous generations ever had.
©Shail Mohan 2017
If I could give a few more likes I would have. You speak for me too. Please indulge my imitation of whining, of course with my peeves. 1. No one cares for a Kodava. NO ONE cares about our festivals, not even the state we are supposedly part off. The festivals of Hutari, Kail-poudh, kakada padhnutt, Cauvery Sankramanna…sigh, no shopkeeper wishes me and none of my friends either, leave alone the airport gaurds ;). 2. Everyone(yes, exaggerating)gets hot and bothered when I say I dont celebrate the festivals they celebrate. They even have the audacity to say – Are you really a Hindu? Whike I sit there wondering- is there “unreally” Hindu too? 3. No one knows who Kodavas are in the US…
Blah blah blah, whine whine …mmm wine?
Thank you, Mysoul. Like DeeAnne said over at the Shail’s Nest Facebook page, maybe we should all start whining about the fact No One Ever Wishes Us On 😉 Lol @”unreally” Hindu.
Amen Shail. It bothers me to no end that anything “Indian” is essentially of the North. It’s not ignorance. It’s apathy.
True. And I am bored by now of the incredulity when you inform them otherwise.
An interesting muse about the increasing isolation of people in a world awash with information.
You have put it well, Anne.
They think the earth revolves around them
how much ever you condemn.
They will still walk around with a diadem
how much ever you have and hem.
BTW the word Diwali features 9 times in this post.😁
Lol, no prizes for finding this one 😛
It’s sad how we want to impose our beliefs which is a mirror image of our ignorance and the worse is such conversation makes life of others’ inconvenient. I have met quite a few people like that and their ignorance is classic.
Well said, Shail. Such behaviour is indeed ignorance and not acceptable especially for, like you said, the young and ‘cool’ generation. Not quite such know-it-alls, after all.
Thanks, Debo. Glad you think so too.
Nice to see you here again 🙂
This is a great write up Shail!
This is extremely common in America. It doesn’t help that a lot of people here self segregate to their specific ethnicity, caste, religion..etc, increasing the amount of ignorance (and sometimes the “holier than art thou” attitudes where they think their group of people/culture is the best), and you get incidents like these. Among the Indian communities, who, depending on the region, is very self segregated, tend to very judgemental and will criticize if you don’t fit a certain mold, which is pretty silly. For example, I know some South Indians who were flamed and not treated well for “not knowing Hindi” by north Indians. Shows that these types of people do not know that India is comprised of several states that have different languages and differences in cultures among them. I have a few friends who were part of the Indian Student Associations in some schools and which is comprised mainly of North Indians, who were called a “fraud Indian” just because they are not Hindu, don’t watch Bollywood or speak and act like them. It’s utterly ridiculous. This is why I think it’s ideal to surround yourself with different types of people from various cultures and walks of life because I have noticed that you become more accepting and tolerating of differences, much less judgmental and become more humble and well rounded, making you a much better person. I feel it’s a pity that people nowadays can’t fathom that nor refuse to realize how much their actions can hurt and insult others.
I heard something similar from another friend too. On the one hand people easily parrot the line ‘India is a land of diversity’ but when it comes to actual living, they forget all about it.