Having strayed into the mundane world of business journalism, the misfit gets a high from politics, cinema, theatre and street food, especially in the bylanes of Old Delhi.

Aditi Nigam

The Kindness of Strangers

Aditi Nigam New Delhi | Updated on June 28, 2013 Published on June 28, 2013

It was a new low in Indian politics when in times of natural calamity, some leaders first thought of saving people from their own State

My mother is a Bengali, father from Uttar Pradesh and I am married to a Tamil. I did part of my schooling from Dehradun, now in Uttarakhand, and then moved to Delhi. I keep visiting Chennai as my in-laws are there and am quite fond of the place.

The point that I am making is that I feel I belong to Uttarakhand as much as to Delhi. And, of course, when someone in North India passes some remark, even in jest, about Tamil people, their language or way of dressing, talking etc, I tend to jump up in defence.

When asked which place I belong to, I normally say I am from Delhi, with roots in Dehradun and some branches in Chennai.

A colleague from Kerala once remarked that I must be feeling like a ‘true Indian’, exposed to varied cultures and cuisine. He was right. I do feel very Indian, as much a Bengali, a Delhiite or an Uttarakhandi. I love Bengali films, food and music as much as I relish and prepare cuisine from Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, to the best of my ability.

However, another colleague had a different view. He said I sounded confused about by sense of belonging. Though I vehemently disagreed with him, it left me thinking. Is there something called an Indian identity within the country? Or, are we merely Bengali, Tamilian, Andhraite, Odiya, or Bihari? Of course, when we travel overseas, we all become Indians or Asians, depending on where we are.

I guess all this is about life flowing along and taking people to places for reasons that may vary from economic to personal. But, at times of distress, especially when struck by natural calamities, human beings have always leaned on each other, no matter which place they belong to.

However, the recent Uttarkhand flood fury, which hit the hilly region, leaving hundreds dead and missing and thousands displaced, left me wondering what would have been in store for me had I been there. Would I have been lucky enough to be part of the people saved and transported back home by Narendra Modi or Mamata Banerjee or Chandrababu Naidu or Hanumantha Rao? Which region would I have claimed to belong to? I shudder to think that I would have had no chance of being saved by such leaders, who cannot think beyond their own region in times of such a huge tragedy.

In times like these, the only saving grace for people like me rests with human kindness, which flows in abundance among simple local people across the country, and, of course, the infrastructure and might of the armed forces.

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on June 28, 2013
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor