I am from Nagaland. I moved to Delhi three years back to continue my studies. I have faced various kinds of discrimination since the day I moved here. First of all, when I was looking for a flat or PG to stay in, I was questioned more than other people usually are. That may be because of the way I dress or talk — I am more ‘westernised’, according to some people.
Then finally, I got one PG after searching a lot. There, I noticed the neighbours used to stare a lot – as if I am from some other planet! And whenever, in the college and outside, I meet someone — the first question they ask is: Where are you from?
Not only that, I have often been asked ‘What do you eat? You have a natural glow!’ This, I find very weird. Then they also ask, ‘Your hair is so straight, you are so lucky that you don’t need to straighten it like we do.’ I feel more than my work, they are interested in my appearance — and that can be overwhelming sometimes.
But one incident, which was truly disturbing, happened recently. One guy from my college was interested in me. He used to text me constantly — and one day he asked me, ‘Can I come to your place?’ I refused. Then he got really offended and said, ‘I am sure men keep on coming to your place, then what’s the big deal?’ This is the notion they have of us — as if we just sleep around with everyone and anyone.
In my school days, I used to hear comments like ‘Chinki’ or ‘Nepu’ whenever I visited my cousin’s place in Delhi. My cousin’s friends used to bully me and ask – ‘Do you have malls there?’ or ‘Do people watch tv?’
Those comments, as a kid, were hurtful. But even today, I feel they just don’t say it out loud but their mentality or notion about us is the same. Also, whenever we speak Hindi, people laugh. Some do it on our faces, some behind our backs. We do speak Hindi very differently, but people mock us for out dialect or tone.
There is another incident which I would like to share. There was a girl in my college, who used to made snide remarks about me, often to embarrass or mock me. Sometimes I used to take it lightly, thinking it’s just a waste of time arguing with her. But one day, she made a really nasty comment. I was wearing a sleeveless crop top with hot pants that day. Delhi’s summer is really bad and this is what I thought was better suited to beat the heat. Moreover, as a girl from the 21st century, shouldn’t I even have the liberty to choose what I want to wear? She said: ‘You’re wearing this in the month of April, what will you wear in the coming months when it will get hotter? Nothing?’
I did answer her back and argued. But that does not solve the problem. These comments come from a deep-rooted orthodox mentality. We are treated as if we are from some other world. Moreover, many of my female friends — who are also from North-east have faced slut-shamming. Men think they are easily approachable and thus various such incidents have happened where they (men) have crossed the limit.
Another thing is, they often think we are dumb or stupid —nothing more than eye candy. I am doing my MD — but one of my neighbours once said ‘You are a doctor? Hard to believe!’ When I asked why, she said ‘Doctors usually don’t look like this and are not stylish like you are.’ We do maintain ourselves — and that needs hard work too. But people only see that — how we dress or what we wear. They think that we are ‘bimbos’.
Even in college, I have seen my classmates don’t ask me anything about notes or studies much — they probably think I will not have much idea about it as I am just ‘eye candy’. Then how the hell am I studying in the same class as they are? I have completed my MBBS — just like they did. But our efforts are never seen or acknowledged. To Delhiites, we are just a bunch of pretty faces, who are easily available!
As told to Shruti Das by anonymous
‘Name-calling is common’
I am from Assam, and have been living in Delhi since few years now. I don’t face harassment or racist comments as such, but whenever I tell people where I am from, they think I am from a jungle or something — where there are just animals running around.
Also, they assume that we only eat Chinese food. There are some Arunachali friends of mine —who are called ‘Momo’, ‘Chinese’ or ‘Chowmein’. And one thing that is really disturbing is that people in Delhi also have the misconception that we are ‘easily available’ — as in sexually. They think, ‘Daru pila do, kar legi sex (Make them drink alcohol, she’ll have sex).
Subhasri Roy works as a copy writer in USMS SAFFRON CO
As told to Shruti Das