Thursday, July 27, 2017

Am I intolerant?

So this might be the first time I am writing about a burning topic because you know I am too lazy to voice my opinion. It’s a long process- You voice your opinion very loosely without checking on the facts. N number of people would support you while N+1 number of people would give you thumbs down. Your ego would be hurt and even if you have realized that you were wrong in your assumption, you can’t go back because now you are representing a certain belief and you have to stand by your words else you are not a man enough.

Not deviating more from the topic, here I am with my two cents on this national favourite trending topic. First of all I don’t understand why we use the word ‘tolerance’ which itself is a very negative term? Why don’t we use the term ‘celebration?’ Why do we tolerate other beliefs, why don’t we celebrate? I am a Hindu by religion and I am quite proud of it but more than that I am proud of the fact that I am Indian. It’s not because of the 80+% of Hindu population but it’s because of the other part that represents a number of belief systems. This is what makes our country different from others. Just imagine how many years of ‘tolerance’ would have shaped this unique set of mixed ideologies. Sometimes I wonder what is this classification of Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Tamil, Rajput, Brahmin? Is it not just a demographic bucket? I am a Hindu but I also relish the iftaar meals of Chandni Chowk. I visit churches for their Sunday Mass. I have this habit of placing my hand on my heart whenever I am near a religious site- temple, mosque or church. Who is a 100% here? I know many of my friends who belong to a particular belief but have adapted habits of another. I know a friend who is Hindu but loves beef. I know a Malayali who loves Hindi movies, a muslim who places her ghungroo before goddess Saraswati. In the end, after all we all are human beings who are there on earth to live a peaceful and happy life. I have spent the first half of my life enjoying the best of everything that my country offers and given a choice I would like to do the same in future.

Let’s leave religion for a while because it is certainly beyond my scope but language is something that interests me the most. I was born in an Oriya family migrated to Bihar in search of better career. Like all the enthusiastic parents, my parents too taught me Oriya as my first language when I was 3. I was a bright student but I flunked in Hindi. When my parents enquired, my teacher told them that I was always speaking in Oriya and was facing difficulty in picking up Hindi. Now this was nothing less than a dharm sankat for my parents but they had to give in and Hindi became my first language. As I grew up I recognized myself as a Bihari rather than an Oriya and I was cordially accepted in both the states.

To be honest, I never realized the existence of language barrier until years later when I was posted in Chennai. Although I was excited to explore a new place, my family and neighbours were not amused as if I am been sent to some foreign land. However, the moment I reached Chennai I realized that fear was not invalid after all. I was on a fast track leadership programme and had to lead a team. To my shock, even the team meetings in an MNC were taking place in Tamil. I knew I had the rights to force them to speak in English but somewhere I admired them for the respect they had for their culture. Next few days I tried socializing with them and even found some enthusiastic teachers to help me with some basic Tamil but my inability to learn a language again stopped me from learning anything new. I was upset with myself thinking that I would never be able to make a place for myself but I had never been more wrong. Though I failed in learning Tamil, I made my intentions and respect clear. Suddenly meetings started happening in English, I always had a translator at service even to movie theatres. At times, I was given notes in Tamil written in English script and I would lovingly recite it while the whole team would burst into laughing at my accent but I enjoyed every moment of it and made some good friends. On the other hand my Malayali roommate made a weird demand. She asked me to speak in Hindi with her so that I can feel at home. I knew she is a Bollywood fan and thus knows Hindi but I also realized how difficult it is for anyone to communicate in a third language but I really appreciated her gesture.

Long story cut short, I believe it doesn’t matter which bucket you belong to; love, empathy and acceptance should be your language and habit. Rest all would be taken care of.  In this era of black and white probably grey is the shade of the season, after all mix and match is a classic choice