Sunday, October 27, 2013

Being a Bihari

Yes, I am a Biharan and I am proud of it!

I was taken by a shock when I realised what people of metros think about Patna, Bihar. I realised that the wrong perception about my home city (my state) is exaggerated to a great extent.

I still remember my first encounter with the outer world, the world outside my city. I was in my second year of graduation and I went to Mumbai, the city of dreams for my internship. This was literally my first exposure to the world, the real world. Professionally definitely I was growing every day but there were few things that really made me think about the misconceptions that people had about my home town- Patna.

The one very common thing that Mumbaikars in general ask to a non-Mumbaikar is- “You belong to which village?”(Kaun se Gaon se ayya/aayi?) I replied very firmly the first time I was encountered with this question- ‘I said I am from Patna and it is not a village’ and the answer I got was “Oh anything outside Mumbai is a village”. There were many events and conversations that I encountered where I have to explain about Patna, Bihar. Most of the times I get into an argument or discussion or sometimes people just listen to me without answering. There are some questions that shocked me a lot. One day while sitting for lunch in my office a colleague of mine asked- “How can you talk in English, I have heard that you belong to Bihar, 
Biharis don’t know English then how come you can talk in fluent English.” I took few seconds to make myself cool before answering. He seemed shocked to know that we have English medium schools and colleges there. He listened to me as if I am saying something out of the box. Another colleague popped in and asked- “So do you have computer and internet there? I have heard there is no electricity there?” Initially I was taken by a shock when I heard questions like these. But later I became very prompt in answering these questions. Another very common comment I am always given is- You don’t look like Bihari and I smile and say- why does all Biharis have horns?

When I moved to Delhi in 2007, I realised the situation here is sadder. The Delhites have even more negative stereotyping for Biharis. This is worse than the Mumbaikars. In Delhi ‘Bihari’ is used as slang. My fight with all those stereo typical presenters is still on. Even after staying in Delhi from last six years, I am often encountered with one of these kinds.   

Bihar is more about Lalu Prasad and crime stories. One very funny incident happened- a senior of mine asked me mockingly-“So you are a Biharai, can you say something in Bihari?” And I replied obviously Bihari is not a language, it is just a dialect. And all Biharis do not speak Bhojpuri.” Most of the people in Delhi make fun of me when I refer myself as ‘hum’ instead of ‘main’. We do say ‘hum’ to represent our self in place of ‘main’, that’s just because being from the rich cultural land of great kings of medieval India we used to treat ourselves with respect and it just came to our accent. With time, I have evolved myself and now I know how to answer whom depending upon the kind of comment one gives to me or Biharis.