Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Speaking of dropping names...

It is difficult to let go of something, of which one is perversely proud.

I have often come across people who, when asked where do they belong to, gently, but proudly slip their caste into the answer.  "No, I don't belong to Bangalore. I am a Kumauni Brahmin", or, "Oh! We have to be very particular about the match. We are Saryupani Brahmins you see..." and so on so forth.

Yes, I admit, only Brahmins, and occasionally Rajputs, proclaim their caste with such impunity, at a day and age when casteism is looked down upon, at least by the educated and the 'informed'.

Honestly, I find this attitude thoughtless and embarrassing. What do you expect your audience, who perhaps is not a Brahmin or a Kshatriya (the so-called higher castes) to say? Something like, "Oh I understand. Fortunately I am a Shudra so I can marry whichever kind gentleman comes my way."?

I can understand that people take pride in their roots. But is it really necessary to announce it? The discerning or the curious will anyways find out. One can at least spare the average listener who is just wanting to know from which part of India you hail from.

I could be a Rajasthani, proud to belong to a colourful, vibrant and courageous race. Or I could be a Kashmiri, having great respect for my learned ancestors. It is not really necessary to add your caste to your geographic signature in order to feel proud of your heritage!

Personally, I feel immensely blessed to be able able to call myself a truly cosmopolitan Indian, having roots in most parts of India! Each time someone asks me, "Where are you from?" I sigh... because that's a long story! And only if someone is extremely persistent and curious, do I explain the caste bit.

Frankly, caste is so not cool. Culture, heritage and traditional wisdom is.