Situation: I'm travelling in our beloved BEST bus on my way to work, last thursday, around 9.30 am. Obviously, being rush hour, there is the usual hustle-bustle. I'm used to dozing off while travelling and today was no different. I was suddenly awoken by a ruckus created by two gentlemen in the seat in front of where I was enjoying my nap. I couldn't follow why the ruckus was created, but the conversation that transpired went like this:
Gentleman1 (seated): Why can't you talk properly? Have you no manners?
Gentleman2 (standing): Sir, I think you are mistaken. All I was saying was please remove your bag from the pathway, so that I can stand properly!
G1 : Arey, but is that the way to speak? Have your parents not taught you any manners? Don't you know how to talk when you come from "outside"?
G2 (visibly flushing!): I'm sorry if I hurt you, but all I was saying was that you remove your bag!
At this point in time I had a rush of blood! Let me explain! G1 in the situation was a Gujarati gentleman, and G2 apparently from the Southern part of India. (I could make out by the accents that both the individuals sported!!) My first reaction was that I wanted to nudge G1 in the back and ask him - 'Excuse me Sir, but what exactly do you mean "outside"??'
I was quite flabbergasted at the question posed by G1. I've stayed outside the country for around a year, but never have been made to feel like an outsider in those countries. Its a different thing that I didn't enjoy the privileges of being a first citizen, but in no way had anyone told me that I was an outsider! And here I am in my own country hearing people call a person from a different state an outsider!! And by what right does a Gujarati guy in Maharashtra call this guy an outsider? Isnt he himself from "outside"?
Mumbai is supposed to be a cosmopolitan city where people from all across the country come to fulfil their dreams. Year after year throngs of people from villages, different states, far away places come to Mumbai to make a living. And year after year this place has welcomed them with open arms (albeit, looking at the population explosion the city is facing, its no longer a pleasant thought!).
Coming back to the topic, I felt like saying those things, but I didnt!! Why? Well, simply put, I didnt want to face the ire of the irate Gujju gentleman, lest he turn his attention to me. And all the while in the bus I was thinking whether I did the right thing. Whether I should have intervened or not? Havent we all become this way? Its not only this simple issue, but havent we become or chosen to become ignorant to graver issues?