Years back, when I was studying in Pune, I had a friend who never travelled beyond Bombay, forget out of state. A proud marathi fellow, who loved his state and his culture, and never dreamt of foraying anywhere beyond Maharashtra. Its altogether a different story, today I see him hopping from one continent to another. He wasn’t a born immigrant and neither are a lot of Maharashtrian, who are proud to be grounded to their origin and their culture. But, country do have set of born immigrants, who are born to wander, some erasing their footprints and some carrying their old soil wherever they go.
#5 The wealth creators: Gujratis and Marwaris
A herbivore species, with an accented speech and a basic degree in commerce or sometimes just a matriculation, knows to mint money out of scraps. Birlas or Ambanis, or owners of any small Baskin Robbins outlet in US, they are everywhere. Given a choice, all gold and diamond of world would love to be kept in their custody. They know their value, every bit of them. The sweetness haunts you when they try to sell, or when you are employed by them. Most difficult employer to quit in my life, was one of them, as I could never have enough arguments with him in spite of disagreements. No wonder, we have a prime-minister with wide acceptance in spite of plenty of dissents.
#4 The intellects: Bengalis and Tamils
Exactly opposite of Gujratis, Bengalis are fish-gobbling, sophisticated (oily-haired bhadramanush is past!), and highly educated individuals who barely care for money. May be ten years from now, only people you would find doing a PhD would be Bengalis. The protectors of Classical music, Rabindra Sangeet, and wearied old literature from Shakespeare to Sharatchandra, all would have a thick spectacle if they get their eyes checked properly. Similar description goes for Tamils, who too would reach the heights in science, have penchant for music, and yes, spectacles are equally universal. Yet, both of the groups would have their own coterie who would chit-chat in their language, bengalis with their rolling tongues and rounding lips, and tamils with their vibrating vocal cords and cluttering teeths. When I spent some unsuccessful years in PhD course in US, university was studded with Bengali research grads, and sight of some eminent Tamil faculties.
#3 The paramedics and gulf stormers: Malayalis
Not a corner this country would have a hospital without a Malayali nurse. How this crept in the culture is not well understood by me, but they are the best in healthcare industry, be it my field of radiology or any discipline. An incomprehensible one of the most complex south indian language, an even more complex cast and religion mix-up, and most butchery culinary habits from minced beef to chips-and-pickle made out of fish, yet they have wide presence in nation. Well, sea route could serve an access to gulf, but India has a huge coastline, yet migrations happen most from the ‘god’s own land’. If you throw a stone in Arab lands, chances are more of hitting a malayali than an Arab.
#2 The honest hippies: North-easterns
Inherting a covert culture hidden in ‘chicken-leg’ of Indian map, they are true outsiders with different physique, face contours and a non-native accent. They could never hide their identity, never could gel completely within the mainland. Delicious chinese cuisine cooks, a trusted security person, or a smiling masseur, they choose such professions where nobody could ever contend them. Vogue hairstyles and dresses, some junkies, some musicians, some boxers, some just plain dumb humans, they are the inherent nomadic hippies of India.
#1 The ambitious commoners: Biharis and Punjabis
This may sound weird to club two contrasting cultures, but in essence, their reasons to immigrate are similar, and have similar earthly roots. Years back, when we had some squabble in college days, one of our seniors pointed, “Both of you are equally rustic (“ganwaar” was the actual word). One says ‘ishkool’ and other ‘askool’, none of you can pronounce ‘school’ correctly.” While Punjabis began moving from the days of partition, or when became terror-capital state, or after ’84 riots, Biharis ran out of suffocation in undeveloped corrupt state. In punjab, many people still carry two dreams- one, to go to Canada, and another, to release their music CD. Biharis who could dream became IAS, one who couldn’t dream, opened a Paan-shop. When I moved from one city to another, I changed my accent or learn the local language, trying to gel myself with the culture. I got dissolved in local culture like a ‘dispirin’ tablet. Punjabis love to keep their accent, sing bhangra, and drive the cab with pride.
One erases the footprints left behind, and other carries the soil with them.