Where do you belong?

By fireiceandallthingsnice - May 31, 2017

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect" - Aldo Leopold


I have lived 26 years of my life in Maharashtra and so it is not surprising that I am quite fluent in Marathi. I have had a lot of Marathi people expressing their shock once they realize that I am a South Indian. I think this speaks enough of my Marathi to support my claims. I never even once felt I am not part of the “Mahan Rashtra” – Maharashtra.  However, time to time there have been situations around Mumbai where this was not the same how others (Marathi’s and non-Marathi’s) felt about each other.
These thoughts never crossed my mind until I met one of my friend in College. I am not sure how she thinks or reacts now, but I remember her reactions in college during times she interpreted people were talking about Marathi people or Maharashtra in a not so good way. That was the first time, I interacted with someone who reacted this way. Not that all of it was wrong or right, the point is this thought was fed into my mind, that if your ancestors belong to some other part of the country or that you are a particular surname, you must be careful of what you talk to people those who ancestrally belong there. It is from this time I started feeling a sense of caution when speaking to people who ancestrally belonged there, not that I ever disrespected but somehow this feeling was insinuated in me.

This friend of mine narrated few incidents, which I believe were wrong on all levels, and I found out there were Marathi people who were troubled by few sections of the other people (let’s call them non-Marathi). I narrated these incidents to my mom, and that’s when she said this is very common even in local trains, where Marathi people taunted south Indians for living in Maharashtra. Although, my mother never had even mentioned this to me before that day. Even after hearing both sides of the stories, I didn’t even once have any negative thought on the way I lead my life.However, I used to feel very awkward and strange when Marathi people spoke in Hindi with me. I wouldn’t enjoy those conversations. I somehow felt the need for them to know that I am Marathi just as they are as if I am trying to convince them I belong there.

All these years I used to visit Mangalore, Karnataka during my summer vacations and I was being told, it is my native. My paternal family, at least most of them reside in Mangalore. So, then I started thinking, if I were settled in Karnataka, then I wouldn’t feel this 'subconscious' pressure of making people believe that I belong there. Just when I sated my mind with this piece of information, one of my cousins enlightened me, that our native is Goa and since our ancestors moved to Karnataka, we are settled here. I accepted this as well.

On my last vacation to Goa, for the first time, I traveled through the Goa public transport. All the while before we always traveled Goa in a private vehicle. And for me, Goa meant Visiting temples. Yes, that’s true 😜Please don’t judge me 😁 While traveling in the public transport, I heard localities talking in some weird language, and to my shock, I got to know they were speaking Konkani (it did not sound like Konkani to me). I tried really hard to understand and miserably failed at it.I just couldn't force myself to believe I belonged there.

Later, after marriage, I moved to Bangalore. And living here I realized, this is home to Kannadiga’s just like they say Maharashtra to Marathi’s.All other communities including Konkani’s are just migrants. I also sensed the fact that it was difficult to strike conversations with people if you did not know Kannada. However, just like Marathi, I love Kannada and now I understand the conversations, know the words, the only problem being grammar. This makes me a bit awkward to talk even the little bit I know, thinking the other person would find out I am an outsider here.

Once I got into a conversation with the person who sits next to me in office, he is a Kannadiga. Our random conversation was again stirred to the topic which never seems to bid me a final goodbye, he started speaking about the anger he feels when he observes some Kannadiga people speaking in English even when both the people involved in the conversation are localites, he also complained about the way Bangalore has changed for worse due to IT boom and migrants. This is true indeed.  It is during this interaction, I realized no matter which part of the country or the world you go, you will always find people being insecure for the people they think are their own.

But the question is how do you decide who is your own? On one hand, we speak of humanity, peace, equality, unity, secularism and then we still categorize people of our kind based on man-made identifications,i.e. My city, my community, my blah blah.We oppose and worry about Trump policies, but subconsciously we are following same in our minds for our fellow countrymen.So, if Trump is wrong, we all are wrong too. Just the other day I was discussing this point with my Hyderabadi Bhai, " If something is wrong, it holds true in every context. You cannot cut a part of wrong and make it right as per your convenience."

Does the belonging of a person depend on the language he/she speaks? Can I claim a place to be my own, because my ancestors lived there? Can a piece of document certify others of my loyalty to the place I live?  And what right does anyone have to question other person’s loyalty? Maybe I am more worthy of calling myself a localite, than a person with an ancestral history.

I have a deep love for the place I lived most part of life, but just one idea of someone else's experience has made me conscious of proving my belonging to that place, not to others but to myself.As filmy I might sound saying, “Dil se I am a Maratha”,  it comes from a deep emotion. So, belonging to a place is an emotional connect and that you sense only when you live there long enough.

P.S: This post is my closure to this topic once and for all, or maybe that is what I hope it does to me. I understand the issues faced by places overpopulated than other parts of the country but you were born as a native of a place which is developed, is just a blessing, not something which you earned by your efforts. So, see people as one irrespective of you being a native or a migrant and remember, you belong to that land, the land doesn't belong to you. Countries all over the world have boundaries, do not let your mind have these too🙂

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17 comments

  1. That's a brilliant article Preeti. A lot of us have had these thoughts but have not been able to put into words. The point about us worrying about Trump and his policies when we ourselves are much similar to him is just spot on. There is a glaring disparity all over our country. People in the north feel all the people in South are Madrasis and black( not intending any offense). And the South people feel that North people don't care about their culture, language and identity. Everyone forgets the fact that no matter where you live or what language you speak, you are an Indian first. Nothing else matters.

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    1. @Sathya: thats true indeed, thanks a lot for commenting and letting me know you had these thoughts in your mind too :)

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  2. Amazing article!!! :)
    I loved the part where you mention 'hyderabadi bhai' ;)

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    1. Thankyou divya, I am not surprised at all that you loved that part the most ;)

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  3. Amazing article!!! :)
    I loved the part where you mention 'hyderabadi bhai' ;)

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  4. Well presented Preeti..Keep going👍

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  5. Well said..👌👏.
    एवढा विचार कसा करते रे..😜

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  6. I hope this sentiment becomes a part of everybody..we talk about petty things but loose the sight of the big picture ...that indeed all men are equal...it takes an open minded person to write such persuasive post and make people think ..i hope it serves its purpose.Keep up the good work!

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  7. I am glad you got my point, thanks for taking time to comment :)

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  8. It is all the social stigma that we has human beings have created from the yesteryears for our own benefits/ulterior motives that we are failing to let go of it even today and also look beyond boundaries. Though we understand things in a more palatable manner and are modernised in our approaches, What one tends to forget is that we all have same veins and flesh running in our body, though we belong to different region, race, religion etc. I have encountered this mindset multiple number of times since my childhood too!!
    This is so finely written/articulated Preeti :) Amazing read :)

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    1. That is true and correctly pointed out by you. Just today while discussing on this topic with my friend, the point that came up was about the environment one grows up in. These things should never be inculcated in young minds that we are separated by region, language, religion. Thanks for letting me know your thoughts apoorva :)

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  9. U sumed up everything that I had in my mind for soo long ! Thanks !! It's amazing !

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  10. I think this discrimination happens in most parts of the world.As a small town starts developing into a city population grows naturally and hence socio-economic problems rise which leads to people blaming each other.The most important thing a migrant should do is to respect the local culture & traditions of the place he moves to.Hope this blog brings a change in all of us. :-)

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  11. I agree, if you respect the existence of another human being and the place irrespective of being a local or a migrant , then you are sorted. Thanks for letting me know your views :)

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