I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you’re looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money… but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it – I will not look for you, I will not pursue you… but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you… and I will kill you.
-Liam Neeson (Taken)
The above quote is of my all time favorite movie dialogues. It has nothing to do with the post below. But it starts with I, and I just had to put this in. Give me a shout-out, if you know what I mean.
Okay, the real post starts NOW….
When I joined Tech Mahindra, in April 2011, I was still a young boy who had a chip on his shoulder. I was a little green under the ears, and it was the first time, I was so far from home alone. I was in Pune, for my initial training, and from the looks of it, was destined to move to Bangalore after it was finished.
I was one of the only two students that had come down from Delhi for our training. All around me were people who came from a different culture, a different language, a different life style, much different from what I was accustomed too. Most of them (around 25 of 37) came from the same college in Chennai. We were all Indians, but the similarity ended there it seems, they didn’t understand me and I sure as ***** didn’t understand them; they could have used the biggest expletives in their tongue on me and I still would have smiled right back at them (not to say I couldn’t do the same). After 23 years of my being, I was the minority for a change. I was different from the other 31 people in my batch of 37.
When you are on the other side of the playing field, it takes a bit getting used to. Mis-directed laughter seems to be pointed at you. Every gaze raises suspicion and there is an inherent feeling that you are going to be discriminated against. They do not watch the movies that you do, they haven’t been to the places you have been, and they don’t eat the food that you do. Amitabh’s dialogues, Delhi’s C.P., Dehradun’s Momo; nothing strikes a chord. It’s like going through peer pressure all over again.
Slowly however the truth dawns upon you. They felt the same when they had come to Delhi, and you knew that. You had tried helping them, laughing at some of their mistakes (always in good humor), and telling them how things rolled up here in the north. Just like I would brand anyone who comes from the South as a South Indian (irrespective of the fact that they spoke Malayalam, Telugu or Kannada) they had done the same. A Bhopali was no different to them than a Delhite would have been and they were trying to help too, knowing that we were uncomfortable around them and tried as much as possible to reduce that feeling.
Then once you get a hold of your breath, you look at the big picture. You are a minority only for 8 hours each day, while they are in a town which predominantly speaks Hindi. They are in as much danger to be slighted by an Auto-Wala as you are in being played upon by one of them. This is when you begin to see them for what they really are. Boys are still boys, loving a fag and slapstick boyish humor. Girls are still girls, private and yet privy to praise. You are in this together with them. They also have to keep on going on in English without any native slang thrown in for you to understand them, they also have to keep up with your occasional blabber in your mother tongue, they also have to say no to things which they haven’t heard of and you have prayed to all your life. Finally, about half way through your training, you find yourself speaking to yourself, “We Indians aren’t that different are we.” And then grin.
I find it difficult to find a politically correct conclusion to this which isn’t cheesy, and so after pressing backspace for a while, I give up. It’s for you to decide what this blog meant to you (apart from utterly boring and lengthy). This was something I had wanted to share without sounding preachy or biased; you might not connect with this as much I did, but maybe someday you will, or at worst find a fitting parallel.