This happened almost 16 years ago but I remember it as if it was yesterday. You see I am born and educated in Patna, Bihar. I am a Bengali by lineage but of course a Bihari since I am born & brought up there. Thanks to my mommy I got to study in the best school and the college of Patna.
I always knew in my heart that I wanted to live in either Delhi or Mumbai once I was done with my studies. Since I stayed in Delhi for a few months before my final exams, I decided against it. So Mumbai became the epicenter of my dreams. Armed with my Graduation degree in Mass Communication, I came to Mumbai with the goal of higher education and a cushy job.
In my mind I had a clear cut map drawn of what and how I wanted my life to be. I was rather happy that for my PG degree I got admission in St. Xavier’s College. Since I had no issues with the English language and I thought I would easily mix with the college crowd in Mumbai.
So finally the day arrived and in the summer of 2001, mommy and I arrived at LokManya Tilak Terminus where my childhood friend’s parents came to receive us. Once we walked out of the station, everything looked so big and unknown. As my lungs filled in with a different kind of pollution, I happily thought this is going to be my city.
First week of arriving in the city we were taken to visit various places by my friend’s parents. Mumbai Darshan happened, specialty food of the city were eaten. We went for my college admission procedures. In short everything was going on fine. Then it was time for Mommy to return to home. Even though I did not cry but my heart broke to see her train leave the station and become smaller and smaller and it went further away from the platform.
However, days passed by and I realized that life was not as easy as I had planned it to be. Few issues that started bothering me were…
I had no clue about Marathi slangs
Someone at college had told me that if you need to ask anything from the cops call them “Pandu” because they feel respected. For people who don’t live in Mumbai, “Pandu” is what you call a cop when you want to disrespect him and they take it rather personally. This I learned the hard way. Soon after I came to the city of dreams, I needed to ask for directions to a particular location. So I very politely asked a bunch of traffic cops, “Pandu Uncle, kya aap humko Metro Cinema kidhar hai dikha dijiyega.” Just because I was a very perplexed looking college kid with extreme amount of oil in my hair that I did not get beaten up by a cop; instead a string of Marathi abuses were hurled at me which I understood later. One old cop took pity and directed me to the place and warned me NEVER to call any cop Pandu ever again.
My English had no issues but Hindi was a different story altogether.
People from Bihar have a distinct sing-song tone to the language & some special words that are exclusive to the state. As did I. What was moderately cool or alright to use in Patna was definitely not so here. I was mocked royally for my Hindi by many classmates and was refused to be taken seriously because I spoke the way I spoke.
Some people just hated me because I was from Patna
I took up a part time job for some extra pocket money at a BPO. The salary was not much but was good enough for me. There my colleagues laughed at for my salwar suits and simple hair. They called me names like Dhoti or Buddhu Bihari and many such unique concoctions were created. In retrospect they seem rather funny but believe me that time it was not even remotely in the same zip code as funny.
Initially I remained upset and was contemplating on returning to Patna because life was being cruel with me. Then one day I so lost it with one of my colleagues that I told him to back off else he will know the wrath of a true Bihari.
That was the turning point for me. I realized I am who I am and if you don’t like me for who I am then you can take your memories and walk out of my life. Till date I am a fierce Bengali but my language gets the tone of Bihar when I am truly angry and normally my Hindi has become like a Mumbaikar.
With this new found rage I have lived my life happily ever after in Mumbai and made some great friends in the process.
Image Courtesy – https://workbike.wordpress.com (station image)