Foreword: This post is about a sticky situation I experienced in a North Indian city. To be precise, the city is Pune and I recently understood that people there tend to feel bad when some Southie calls them ‘North’ Indians. Well, please remember what Einstein had to say: ‘It’s all relative, brother’. I am a Hindi-illiterate South Indian whose Hindi knowledge is limited to a few movie names (courtesy: The Khans); ‘Keval ek run milega’ sort of cricket commentaries (courtesy: Doordarshan); some swear words (courtesy: Virat Kohli and Harbhajan Singh) and the ABCD stuff like ‘Thumara naam kya hai? Mera nam blah blah blah hai’ (courtesy: Margoschis Matriculation School , upto 7th standard). Apart from the poor farmer who lives in that famous Hindi village – some Tamilians say his name is Ragu Thatha – I have no acquaintances either in the Hindi speaking land.
You might have read a few open letters in the blogosphere before and my introduction would have already created the urge in you to grab the nearest available Vel Kambu or lathi -depending on your location- to prepare for battle. If that be the case, I kindly request you to drop them immediately and focus your mind instead on a degree kaapi or dhai lassi – again depending on your location – and then read on. This post is about a Vada paav and an Appavi (roughly translated to a poor innocent man in Tamil) based on a small language problem. If you still refuse to embrace ahimsa, read my epilogue, make sure you forget my name and immediately close this page.
Once upon a time in the recent past, I got an opportunity to visit Pune for the first time in my life. The northern most place in India I had ever visited prior to that was Bangalore. The city threw the usual surprises at me as any new place would do for a first timer. Only Pune seemed to have a unique style and flavour of its own to do so – the paan! It was omnipotent, like God. While I could see paan stains everywhere, I also witnessed another feature of the Almighty through my mobile phone. Just like God, my mobile service provider’s network signal also teased me in that big city. It would never show itself to me and just when I start to lose heart and contemplate atheism, it would give me a fleeting vision and then disappear. There was no network coverage even in the city’s main locations. Even if every friend is important to me, this restricted me from calling any of my friends when I am in dire need of location or translation assistance.