The wheels of Indigo 6E-523 screached as it landed in the Kamraj International Airport in Chennai. The 5.55 AM flight from Pune to Chennai must have enlisted me as one of its supremo passengers as that was my flight back from Pune everytime. I unplugged the earphones and kept them inside my bag and gave a call to my mom (who must have been impatient whether i had reached or no)
"Mamma, I just landed"
"Ok, Cynthu take care. Love you"
I collected my baggage and walked to book my cab. The morning sunlight fell bright on my face and to admit I hated this weather in Chennai. Sulking about it, I adjusted my black jacket and toed to the counter which had a board "Prepaid Taxi".
"Journey where?", enquired the boy at the counter.
"Perungalathur", I replied (wiping off the drops ofsweat that fell near my ears).
"340 Rupees Madam".
I paid him and moved to the Taxi stand.
"Tumhala Marathi yeta kai?" I heard a male voice in Marathi.
"Hoi yetha na Sanga?" I replied saying I know Marathi, Tell me.
"Itha Taxi cha pick up point kootha ahe?", He wanted to know where the taxi pick up point was.
I directed him to it and finally he said, "Thank God atleast someone knows Marathi here".
I smiled gently and pitied his condition that he was actually a foreigner in his own country. Although he was inIndia he was still lost yaar.
Well he is an example of a foreigner who dint know the language.
I heard my phone ring and it was one of my friend on the line.
"So Cynthia, you are back from your hometown?" (here hometown meant Pune) Wondering what she meant and without any wierd expression I sulked, "Yeah i am back, How are things at your end?"
Our conversation lasted for around 5 minutes and after I was done , I sat pondering on the happenings that morning. To the boy at the counter I was a foreigner because he went on my dress and thought I dint know Tamil. To my friend who thought Pune was my hoemtown I was a foriegner in Chennai. To the people i know in Pune I was a forigner because my native was Chennai. To be precise when i am in Pune i am a South Indian and whenI am in Chennai I am a North India because i was bought up there.
At the end of the day the fact that was ironical was that no one thought i was just a common Indian . I still want myself to be known as an Indian and by the work I do, not by the dress I wear and the language I speak. Why is it that we realize the Indianness in us only when Sachin hits his 100th century or when India defeats Pakistan in cricket? I agree that out country has been divided into different states and every state has its own language. However, this should only be limited to being a statement of pride that our country is so diverse. It shouldn't be a basis of discrimination and differentiation.
That day I wondered that the boundary drawn on the Map of India actually made me a foreigner in my own land.