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The Great North South Divide

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

In the great North and South India divide, the East, the further East, the West, far-flung North, and the Middle parts of the country get lost.

The North thinks the South is about Masala Dosa, Idli, Medhu Vada, and Sambhar. The South believes the North is about Rajma Chawal and Choley Bhatura.

To put things in perspective, Chickpeas, or one of the key components of Choley Bhatura appeared in early recordings in Turkey about 3500 BCE and of all things is called a ‘Bengal Gram’!

Legend has it that Shivaji's son Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje Bhonsale, who was one of the great Maratha rulers, attempted to make dal for himself when his head chef was away. He loved his own concoction which was then referred to as 'Sambhar'. And as he moved South, so traveled his favorite ‘Sambhar’.

Rajma or red kidney beans are thought to have originated in Latin America. They're part of a larger group called “common beans,” which were cultivated as early as 8,000 years ago. Common beans were spread by migrating tribes and served as an important protein source in the diets of the Indians of the Americas.

So what are we fighting about?

I was on a 5-city back-to-back tour for a corporate people strategy intervention using music.

My first stop was in Hyderabad.

Sound System plays a very vital role in my scope of work. During my workshop, I did notice the indifference of the sound vendor. He didn’t realize that I am fundamentally a musician. And he went on playing with the sound parameters intentionally making my life a tad bit tough. After the workshop, I walked up to him and gave him my business card pretending to be polite when I wanted to rip apart his marbles; and thanked him for his services.

(Found above on the net - stop the divide. Rather give back what is already divided)

The grumpy Ding-a-Ling reluctantly accepted.

Suddenly, this guy who was sparingly sneezing monosyllables began to drown me in his verbose vomit.

“ Oh…..Sir ! You are a Bengali ?!?” his face glowed and he began pushing for a conversation.

“I thought you were from Delhi’, said the guy.

“Of course, I’m from Delhi…..but how does that matter?”, I tried to prick his mind.

“Bengalis are so creative and cultured…..they sound so sweet..…I also know little Bangla…..Tomi Kabar Kahbi …hmmmm……oh yes ! Ami Tomai Bhalobhashi…… Sir look, these Dilliwalas…….they speak rough and are always chasing money, women, power….so brash !”, snapped the guy.

This got me into thinking mode in Bangla which best translated in English would sound something like this.

“This rotten fart of a dehydrated son of a bitch’s stinky dumb umhumpped fish, who lives in the piddle of a dog shit eating crow, has underdeveloped brains like a tape worm’s underarms………oh ??? ……….where in the Universe am I sounding sweet ???”, I asked myself.

“But I’m a Bengali who lives in Delhi….does that decide who I’m and how I behave ?”, and I walked off thinking who might have invented these explicit and exotic Bengali swearings. Must be a genius! It does have a rhythm to it. The right word would be 'Lachak' or suppleness in English.

That evening we flew to Chennai and spent the late evening exploring fried fish on Marina Beach. Oh, I must add. The habit of eating fish originated in the Indo- Swaraswat Basin. This happened just before the Great Migration when the waters began to dry up for some reason unknown. A very large part migrated to the South, another part to Gomantak or Goa, and a part traveled to Bengal. The rest settled by the banks of the Ganges in the North. Nobody moved westwards?

Anyways, the next morning, as usual, I was all warmed up to take on a large Sales team.

The workshop began as decided.

I began to gradually introduce the flow of the session. And I was well 15-20 minutes into it.

Suddenly, rose a thin man in the corner who otherwise wouldn’t have caught my attention, ““ Sir…..we no English….not understanding….”.

“Oh? sure…”, and I quickly switched to Hindi.

“Sir…..we no English and no Hindi… Tamil only”, this time was a lady, who was otherwise busy talking to her colleagues in conversational English.

Now, Holy cow. I was in a tight spot.

Due to my experience in Hyderabad, I knew that this was coming from the Great North vs South cultural divide. So I didn’t have much of a choice and decided to switch my language. But this time to my native tough, Bangla! And no, not colloquial Bangla but pure Bangla as it would be spoken in the early 1800s.

I continued for a good 5 minutes much to the astonishment of the team. And my team as well!

Again, the same guy again stood up and interrupted, “ Sir no understand this language…Sir, Tamil only”

There was pin-drop silence at the venue. The stick of old carpets was overpowered by the exotic aroma of coffee beans brewing somewhere close.

(Old Photo used for representation only)

“English is a phoren language. I from Vanga.... Speak and understand only from Tamil Nadu. Only understand Tamil…………….. So, since you are playing the regional card, I’ll speak in Bangla and you understand in Tamil since neither English of HIndi are my native languages...... What say?”

Yes, what say ?

The workshop went on to be one of my most successful sessions and I planned to host a party for my team over dinner in Bangalore. My next stop.

But by the time, we landed in Bangalore, demonetization had hit! And the party never happened.

While I was flying back from Coimbatore after the last session of the tour in Ooty, I realized that the few things that hold us together as a nation besides such diverse cultural differences and misconceptions are the National Flag, National Anthem and our Defence Personnel who protect the sovereignty of our country 24/7. And who doesn't probably have a choice between a Dosa or a Bhatura for a meal at Saichien or Tamang !

So, let’s keep it together and not be divided over the color of our pooh !!!

What say?

Jai Hind !

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