Where Are You From?

In my post, Two Forwards, Cathy In NZ commented; “The commentators at the other space where they were placed were many ethnic groups who felt a fear that they might be living in the wrong country and find themselves in a similar position.

However I pointed out that isn’t just ethnic groups who can run into problems but anyone who doesn’t fit the norm i.e. someone who is disabled…”

I live in a country which is an amalgamation of many states with many languages and different cultures, dress, religions etc. I cannot think of any mobile Indian today not having been asked the question “Where are you from?” Unless one sticks to one’s what we euphemistically call one’s native place, this is inevtiable.

I was born in Mumbai which is in Maharashtra, of Tamil speaking parents. I was raised in many parts of the country, and I personally put down roots in Pune which is also in Maharashtra only when I was 47 years old. My name does not give any indication as to where I come from nor the caste to which I belong and this is a question that troubles people who meet me for the first time. I suppose that it is a normal desire to pigeonhole strangers.

If this is the problem for an Indian within India, one can imagine what an Indian like me would face if he had to be in say the UK and met up with another Indian. For other foreigners, I could simply say that I am from India, and the matter would be solved, though I have had some suspicious types asking me if I was really from India or whether in fact I was from Pakistan. I have of course been called a Paki by hooligans, but that is another story.

If you want to experience the flavour of this frustration fully , you can do no better than read this wonderful write up by Ariane Sherine who is further handicapped by having a father who is an American.

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