Thursday, July 24, 2008

North meets South

Had some people over for dinner, colleagues of the Man. I always think of Indians as one large homogenous group...the differences owing to the directions of our origin apart, we are not too different..or so I would like to think.
Well, apparently not!
For starters there is the presumption that anyone with a lighter skin colour is either part foreign. But if you are from Southern India..fair skin, plus smooth hindi = Punjabi. And I always clench my teeth and highlight the fact that there are more states north of Punjab that exist..hmm..no one ever thinks of Kashmir unless voting is around the corner I guess.

The next thing is the language barrier, Hindi is the national language..right or wrong..but most people dont speak it, people in question here were from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, they spoke good English with a different accent, but Hindi conversation between us (incl the Man) was met with blank looks. And I say..come on..something..anything..you must have seen some Hindi film..no? no! No.

The approach to food was wary, chicken curry, chola, aloo, and cabbage with peas, all made indian style were reluctantly tested. My food is not mild in terms of spice, but it turned out without pepper corns, food is not categorised as hot, which is typical of 'North Indian' food..is it really!! Apart from the chicken nothing else was eaten..maaaaybe it was alien to the taste buds. But suddenly I was very aware of the fact that I am NORTH Indian. Hmmm!! My curiousity and fondness for food means I am very happy (and well acquainted with all things South Indian) also gujarati bearing in mind London is full of all kinds of Indian food..and I have travelled a fair amount in India. Thus this reaction towards my food..was hmm..surprising. I had made some well known dishes..Aloo is universally eaten!! Even the yoghurt was rejected for being too thick!!

Apart from the apparent, there was a distinct difference in reaction..to conversation, to thinking, to behaving..including sitting on a sofa, carrying on a conversation. One person decided to sit ramrod straight and stare, whilst the other went on giggling..make me quite confused really..as to what to do. Their opinion about my house was 'lovely' but why do only 2 of you live in such a large house..hmm? Understandable I would say. Puzzling reaction though!

Being in London and not being curious about everything around you..specially the well known, thanks to Bollywood, landmarks..well you HAVE to see them..but nope. They had not seen them and were not keen to either. Most people would think..financial restriction to spending a large amount of money causes prevention to seeing places. Hmm..not true really..its not cheap, but it aint stupendous amounts of money either. It seemed to be a lack of curiousity..and I am sitting on judgement..forgive me. But these people are paid decently.

Initially uncomfortable, then strange, turning to curious and then just plain confused happened over a couple of hours to me. Am I too North Indian or have I just not met too many different people from other parts of my country.

8 comments:

mar00ned said...

... or maybe the food you make is not good enough :-).
The MAN has no choice but to eat whatever is being put on his plate ... but others can be less considerate ;-)

chandni said...

wel....I'll have to confess that the only time I was acutley "aware" of my north indianness was when I was in the US amongst other Indians...not from the north...

May be its just that people when abroad, are even more fierce about guarding their culture...so may be the next time u have these people over for dinner, you should use mustard and curry leaves instead of hing-jeers :D

Upasna said...

:D I love this ! And well yes, all north Indians are Punjabis, all South Indians are Madrasis, and all non-Kashmiris are punjabis too ;)

Don't think too much about the food, an evening with warm conversations can make for a wonderful one, with or without the food... :) I'm sure the man appreciates that ( even if he doesn't say it :P )

mar00ned said...

Problem with you Delhi waalas :-D

http://www.flyyoufools.com/delhi-dosa/

Morpheus said...

true..freeze dried culture as i call it..happens everywhere.
Upasna..everyone is Punjabi..:( and in UK indian music = bhangra!! sad sad...shaking head..
Marooned...delhi and its waalas may have problems...its still the capital of your country!!!

Pallavi said...

Sigh I could relate to that.. at least you could be thought of as North Indian.. I am pushed out of India.. as they do not know north east at all..

I faced the same with my cooking.. but now.. I add a dash of southern spice when I invite south indian friends and also have educated them about north eastern food.. and it did take time.. but it works.. they now look forward to the food that I cook..

I love Kashmiri food.. yum.. i tried some dishes.. but its too warm for a warm climate but went down well in the hills in Shillong.. :)

roop said...

lol I so have to link u in my next post. :D Can i pliss?

roop said...

plus i think it's media (read bollywood) that has popularized North India as Punjab ... and south india as Madras.

will write about that too.