So the other day I’m told by a well-meaning South Indian friend that Delhi is a cruel and shallow shithole, run by a bunch of the proverbial canines who are always on the lookout for a quick bite of Hot Dog, where thugs and molesters have a free hand, that too literally. And that’s only on a good day.
"That's enough!", I said to myself. It can’t be so bad, can it? If nobody else will try their hand at it, I’ll attempt to patch up this North-South divide. Despite the few pricks I’m likely to encounter along the way, as is the case in any such endeavour. After all, a few pricks are a given when you try to sew up the secular fabric of the country, eh?
Yes. Delhi’s image down South has reached an all-time low. And when we refer to Delhi, we refer to everything north of Bombay, and besides Bengal. With the recent movement of a younger population, and owing to their brash advertisement of where they hail from, Delhi has become the new Punjab. But up there, we probably still remain Madrasis.
They are likely to view us as a bunch of Sambar eating, dhoti wearing, mustache adjusting, BPO accent sporting, Rajnikant fans who have pickles with everything we eat, including chewing gum. While we view them as a bunch of humour-impaired, Fair & Lovely consuming, SUV-driving, Yo Yo Honey Singh style swearing snobs whose biggest accomplishments in life include speaking Hindi without a South Indian accent and making ‘un-fair’ comments on our complexions. De Taali! (Heard that? He said “Thali”. LOLz!)
Unfortunately, when people resort to blind stereotyping, they are usually 100% accurate. Or at least that’s what they’d like to believe. But then, just because we belong to different sides of the Vindhyas, it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, right? Okay! Fraands if you insist, yaar. After all, we were always united by our irritation of one Cyril Radcliff’s inability to know where to draw a line, no? A fact we’ll remember as long as India and Pakistan play cricket!
History suggests that all this North-South pow-wow began when one Nanduri Ekadri Venkata Ramakrishna Reddy picked up a fight with another South Indian colleague in Amadalavalasa, because the victim never got his name right. (The fight was then referred to as NEVR Reddy Battery by a Times of Vindhya scribe). Having a desire to live up to his proud family name, Mr. Reddy moved up North and called himself Ram. The change of name and postal address however would hardly help him escape the ignominy that was due to him, once he was labeled a Madrasi.
Many years have passed, and since then, Delhi has witnessed a lot of Southern influence. What with South Delhi, South Block, and even Southern Comfort whiskey. In an act of reciprocation, the North has found its way into the hearts of South Indians. What with Parota(what you call, Parantha), Pakora ( What you call Pakoda), Paneer Butter Masala( What you call Paneer Makhanwala) and the subsequent Delhi Belly( Call it what you like) becoming as much a part of the South Indian diet as Poori( What you call Poodi), Podi(Now you know why we call it Poori), Pickle (After having which, you'll only call for paani) and ulcers.
This kind of history cannot be disturbed over petty things like who has hotter summers and who has hotter tempers. Which is why I call upon you, my fellow South Indian friends to bring out your spiciest jar of Avakai Pickle to welcome our brethren from Bhagat Singh Marg, our chums from Chanakya Puri and our pals from Pitampura, and make them feel at home. After all, we all need someone to laugh at, don’t we?