The Place I Cannot Call Home

I left Delhi because X, my then boyfriend, and I were beaten up in Lado Sarai.

Only a handful of people know this, but there, I’ve said it. I never thought I would, but I have.

It’s been almost five years, and I can still remember the woman’s face. The woman who grabbed me by my hair, took off her slipper and beat me with it all across my back, my face, my legs. She was tall and strong and wearing a dark blue salwar.

In my head she is always wearing a dark blue salwar. She was much too strong for me to wrestle out of her grasp.

I was with a city magazine then, and out working on a story – a rather unexciting story that entailed visiting an art gallery in Lado Sarai and reviewing a show. X refused to let me go alone. He took me on his  motorcycle. In the neighbourhood’s labyrinthine streets, in the middle of a hot, dusty afternoon, we got lost.

At some point, we came to a latched gate that led out into the main road. I hopped off to open it, and a man strolled out a nearby building saying I shouldn’t do that. Politely, I explained where we needed to go, and assured him that I’d latch the gate again as soon as we passed through.

He refused.

I persisted. This is a public road, I said.

He refused.

I turned back to X and said, ‘Alright, fuck it…let’s go.’

The man thought I’d said ‘Fuck you’ to him and called me a name I wouldn’t like to repeat here. X, trying not to get angry, told him he shouldn’t say that. X was pushed. X pushed him back. Before we could catch a breath, we were surrounded. People poured out of doors and side gates. The tall, strong women began screaming at me, she raised her hand. Three or four men held X and began punching him in the stomach. I cannot describe it further. It was a scene that happened to me and outside me all at the same time.

We only got out of there alive, and somewhat in one piece, because X persistently shouted out an apology – ‘Sorry, sorry…we’re sorry. Let us go…We’re sorry.’ He had the good sense to do that, I didn’t. I was much too angry and scared.

Until this day, I don’t know why that happened.

Was it because we were a young couple out on our own? In ‘western’ clothes, together on a motorcycle? Was it because we spoke poor, broken Hindi, and were clearly, in so many ways, ‘outsiders’? Was it some sort of primeval territorial instinct on their part that we had trod on? Perhaps it was a combination of all these things, and other reasons I still cannot fathom.

But it happened. In Delhi. In a city where a young boy from Arunachal has just been beaten and killed.

Why is Delhi such a violent city? A city where violence is brewed and doled out on those it sees as weak or not of its own.

While these are terrifying incidents of physical abuse, I know that people from the ‘northeast’ fight daily battles. We find it difficult to rent a house. That most basic of necessities, of a home and shelter, turns into a frustrating, humiliating hunt. We’ve been told not to cook our strange, smelly food. To not throw parties. To not ‘come home drunk with boys.’

While I’ve made some of my closest friends in Delhi, and there, met lovely, bright, cultured folk, I’ve also been humiliated, time and again, and beaten. Yes, beaten. In every sense of the word.

A few weeks ago, over an email chat with a friend, I told her that my husband and I were thinking of moving to Bangalore at the end of the year.

‘Why Bangalore?’ she asked. ‘Come to Delhi!’

I thought long and hard about my reply.

I wrote that while I love my visits there, to meet friends, check out art shows, lounge at Lodhi, I wasn’t ‘mentally prepared to move back.’

I don’t know if I ever will be. In my head, that lady still looms large. The lady in a blue salwar.

While the candlelit vigils and the tragic protests take place for Nido Taniam today, I thought I was done with silence. Violence – whether in Delhi against ‘outsiders’ or in the northeast against ‘dkhars’ – is condemnable. 

I don’t know why I didn’t want to speak of this incident earlier – a close friend, who is also a journalist, said I should have contacted the press then, reported it to the media. Yet I didn’t, I suppose, for many reasons. I didn’t want to worry my family. A part of me wanted to pretend it had never happened. It was humiliating. Embarrassing. 

The strangest thing is, I think I also felt a certain amount of guilt – that somehow, I had trespassed. That I was in a place where I shouldn’t have been. In situations like these, the gulf between ‘local’ and ‘outsider’ is wide and tangible. You run away to stay alive.

I have never returned to Lado Sarai.

Another close friend said I should. That he would take me there. So I could face the place, and it would stop being what it is in my head. I am yet to take him up on his offer. I’d like to begin with sharing, and acknowledging. Perhaps then there can be room for healing.

Amidst all the love, support and compassion, there have been some unsettling comments regarding the treatment of non-tribals in the northeast, implying that somehow ‘what goes around, comes around’. I wrote this piece spurred by the news of Nido’s death and the overwhelming mix of emotions it brought up. My intention was not to deny other people’s experiences. I’m all too aware of how precarious things are on the other side, of how non-tribals/dkhars/’outsiders’ might feel unsafe and unaccepted in some parts of the northeast, or rather – since this is the place I know well – in Shillong, my hometown.

Yet, an implication of collective responsibility is also terrible and dangerous. As Louie points out (below), the North-Easterners being abused in Delhi are not the same ones perpetrating the violence on non-tribals in the North East (both forms of violence deserving equal condemnation). Damning them because they happen to come from the same place makes no sense. What goes around never comes around to the perpetrators of violence – it comes around to people like X, or Nodi, or you and I, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

Image © Janel Bragg

 

 

 

69 Replies to “The Place I Cannot Call Home”

  1. Janice!

    Reading this just made everything go still around me for a while. I was immediately reminded of my seven years spent in that city and I caught myself thinking: ‘whew, I survived Delhi!’

    Isn’t it tragic that that’s how one seems to feel about a city?

    What happened to you and your friend was horrific. I’m sorry. I guess maybe we are all stronger today for having ‘survived’ Delhi. F**k it !

    Lots of love,
    Mimi.

    P.S. Mumbai is a lovely city too 😉

  2. Rather rich, this, when everyday non-tribals are being treated like shit in the north east. What was that saying? What goes around… You get the gist.

      1. @ Sameer: Nothing but your bulshit understanding of “the gist” killed an innocent boy a few days back. It is the likes of you with a myopic view of the world and its differences that inflict such atrocities on the unsuspecting few…wake up…you ignoramus!

        1. @Boron : You call it a myopic view but what about those innocents getting killed everyday in the NE. They also face it the same way you face it outside . Think about the glass house you are living in my friend. The stones are being thrown from either direction!

          1. An implication of collective responsibility is terrible and dangerous. As Louie points out (below), the North-Easterners being abused in Delhi are not the same ones perpetrating the violence on non-tribals in the North East (both forms of violence deserving equal condemnation). Damning them because they happen to come from the same place makes no sense. What goes around never comes around to the perpetrators of violence – it comes around to people like X, or Nodi, or you and I, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    1. This implication of collective responsibility is something you should be ashamed of. Can’t you see that what goes around never comes around to those that perpetrate violence in the first place? North-Easterners being abused in Delhi are not the same ones perpetrating the violence on non-tribals in the North East (both forms of violence deserving equal condemnation). Damning them because they happen to come from the same place makes as much sense as removing the healthy leg, because it belongs to the same body as the infected one: it takes you no closer to addressing the problem. Please leave that awful saying to the Justin Timberlake lyrics where it belongs.

    2. @Sameer:
      Are they? It is for people like you, that ‘sick mindset’ that the country is on the way to rot! Read and try to understand what she is trying to share. And if you fail to receive the message, just move on; don’t post such garbage just for the sake of argument!

      1. @Nobody – Haven’t you just validated Sameer’s point?
        Calling someone’s mindset sick is just equivalent of what Sameer said and you’ve perfectly participated in his “You get the gist”.

        We really need more discussion on such topics and if we just hush people like Sameer up, all we will get are more violent people with more prejudices in their mind. Do we really want that?

        @Janice I commiserate. I am from Jharkhand and have been in Delhi almost all my life and yet I can’t call it home. Thanks for calling it out.

    3. @sameer: My father has been in the northeast for the past 35 years. I was born there. I’ve done a few years of schooling from there. There have been instances where my father has felt unsafe, but that’s nothing compared to how I feel in Delhi. I know many many people in the north-east who belong to north India who would agree with me.
      Perpetrators of violence are present in every community. A couple of incidents of violence against ‘non-tribals’ in the North-East gives no one the right to treat them this way. If that’s the case, then women all over the world should beat up every man because that’s the way women have been treated for centuries.
      People in the north east have been nothing but welcoming to people outside of north east. Why can’t you treat this as the basis of your “what goes around comes around” instead?

      1. @Shelly: Whether or not the people of Northeast are welcoming to the non-tribal population there is completely besides the point. People in Delhi or elsewhere have no business abusing the Northeasterners living in their neighbourhood. There is no justification needed here. If Janice, who was abused by a group of people, hits back, it is a different thing. But if I go around beating people from the NE region because some one the NE is beating a non-tribal, that makes no sense what-so-ever.

        This excuse has been used way to many times. Let’s butcher Muslims because a bunch of people from their community killed some Hindus in some part of the country. It is nothing but an excuse to perpetrate violence. It is exhausting, this pathetic reasoning.

  3. Hi Janice:
    really sorry for what happened. I am not a Delhite, but my relatives in Delhi esp the ladies hate it though they have to stay there for work purpose. I’m from Chennai and lived in North East for 9 years; while many of my colleagues said that we’ll be treated as outsiders, I never felt that way, and made very many friends. Unfortunately, people within India are not able to accept that all people are not made of the same physical mould. Also, there is always a tendency to stare at people who have either white / black skin. I think basically those who havent travelled much in their early years tend to have this type of dogma. Dont know when people will grow up…
    Love
    kal

    1. Hi Janice….loved the post…sad you had to face such incidents…..keep writing….don’t mind about the comments…you are free to have your opinion and write what you feel! <3

  4. Delhi may be the political capital of India, but it is mainly inhabited by goons of all color and creed. No self respecting Indian should call themselves proud of their capital unless such barbarians continue their prowl there.

  5. Hi janice,
    Really sad to hear your story. Its so sad that racism is so rampant in our cou.try. Infact even in Shillong, which i presume is your home town. The recent killings in the name of a joke called ILP was sad too. But that doesnt make national news, does it? All I am saying I hope we can all come together and take this menace out of our society.

  6. It feels disgusting to that such people exist. But it has got nothing to do with Delhi or the place you come from. It is lack of brain and education on account of those people. The lady who you talk about is highly unfortunate that she has become almost inhumane. Just pity her and hope that she gets sense someday . Everyone in Delhi is not same. You will find most welcoming people here as well. Its always about the individuals. While pointing out the typecast for North-easterns, you are typecasting Delhi. That lady in blue salwar sucks, just pity her and move on.Think about it:)

    1. I accompanied my niece to Appolo Hospital in Jasola, New Delhi for treatment and we had to hire a room at Sarita Vihar in one of the flats which were (illegally) converted to rooms for rent. On my way back to this flat, I forgot my flat number and accidently pressed the bell of a neighboring flat. A distinguished looking retired gentleman came out and without any rhyme or reason started hurling a torrent of abuse at my wife and I.Why? I don’t know. Maybe it was because my wife was wearing jeans and a T-shirt or maybe it was because we were “CHINKIES”? Whatever the reason I don’t know but I kept my cool and replied in a very polite way at the ranting gentleman “Sir, I got confused and made a genuine mistake to the direction of my flat, you don’t have to yell at us as if we were third class citizen. Good day to you.” That somehow seem to calm him down.
      Days later, I saw a Hyundai Santro bearing a Meghalaya (ML 05) Tag parked outside near the flat where I stayed and guess who was the owner of this vehicle? The same horrid retired babu who had eked his living of our land and had gone to “Dilli” to waste out his meaningless days.
      I still remember the look on his face when I wished him a sarcastic ‘Good morning Bah’.

  7. The sad part is, this is not surprising. And the sadder part is it could happen to anyone. No one is an insider here. My family has lived here for more than 2 generations and are north Indian but this could happen to me (similar things have happened to me). Gender, caste, religion, region, class there are endless reasons for ‘otherness’ here. Living here is a constant fight and its tiring to live in a state of hyper awareness to stay safe.

  8. Hi Janice,

    I am from Delhi – lived there 22 years – but I moved away after I got married. Today I get scared when I visit the place. I no longer feel safe and I no longer feel the warmth I felt whilst growing up there. The place is cold, hard and people there are so prone to violence any mostly for unnecessary things. I am so sorry you had to go through what you did. Neither you nor X deserved it. I don’t know why things have changed for the worse, but I’m glad to hear you don’t want to go back to Delhi. God Bless you and I’m glad you’ve spoken out.

  9. Ok Janice,now lets talk about your hometown Shillong,the Capital of Meghalaya.Most people in India are probably unaware of the almost year long violent agitation,involving bandhs,assaults on a daily basis,happening all over Shillong ,perpetrated by NGO’s,Student Unions and various other social bodies and political parties,all for implementing an Inner Line Permit system which essentially is to control and regulate the entry of mainland Indians or “outsiders” ,into their state.In other words ,the people of Shillong are demanding an Institutional mechanism to check the entry of Indians into their State.While such a system would be completely unconstitutional,the locals have not spared any efforts in trying to have system implemented.They have regularly targeted the “outsiders” / non-tribals ,living in Shillong,to create a fear psychosis.A well-known non-tribal businessman was burnt alive while he was sitting in his own shop.When that was not enough to get the government to comply,they burnt alive a pani-puri vendor.Several shops belonging to these outsiders/non-tribals have been burnt in the ongoing agitation besides several other instances of assaults.

    While the “outsiders”/non-tribals of Shillong are quite accustomed to such violent agitations taking place every now and then ,let me highlight the other problems/discrimination faced by them in their normal daily lives –
    The outsiders/non-tribals are referred to derogatorily as “Dkhars” .While Janice talks about the problems of finding houses to rent in Delhi,the situation of the Dkhars is even worse.There are only some localities in Shillong where the Dkhars would dare to even enter let alone live.Needless to say,the rent in such places are astronomical and the locals shamelessly fleece the Dkhars by charging rent 4-5 times more than the normal..The Dkhars are not allowed to buy land and property.Janice talks about pre medieval mindset,let me remind of her own State where there are places where,forget the Dkhars,even the locals dare not enter,what with several instances of human sacrifice and lynching taking place.
    I have much more to say but I am going to end here by saying this to Janice that before you point fingers at others ,try setting your own house in order first.

    1. @James .. You have got this thing right !
      @Janice .. REPLY TO THE ABOVE . We have to see both sides . And ya, the rest of India is ignorant about what happens in SHILLONG on a daily basis. A young guy gets burnt at NEHU,Shillong. An old shopkeeper gets beaten to death in Bisnupur. You know these thing also Janice , and you know that I am not making it up. And these are just a few incidents which come to light , Your very own students union goes on a rampage in Laitumkhrah in their so called “AWAKENING DAY” and target hapless non tribals and their shops. BUT DOES THAT MAKE NATIONAL NEWS ? No way !!

      1. An implication of collective responsibility is terrible and dangerous. As Louie points out (above), the North-Easterners being abused in Delhi are not the same ones perpetrating the violence on non-tribals in the North East (both forms of violence deserving equal condemnation). Damning them because they happen to come from the same place makes no sense. What goes around never comes around to the perpetrators of violence – it comes around to people like X, or Nodi, or you and I, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

        1. So copy-pasting are we ?? Thats the way you wanna avoid the issue , its fine . ITs all good being articulate and writing stuff. But when its come to real stuff , you shy away . You remind me of rahul gandhi in a recent interview.

          1. I would like to join in, if I may. @James demand for the Inner Line Permit is NOT unconstitutional. It is an Act instituted by the British government for the Bengal Eastern Frontier in 1873 and as far as I know still applies to states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Mizoram. See here http://mdoner.gov.in/sites/default/files/silo4_content/entry%20restrictions%20in%20NER/Bengal%20Eastern%20Frontier%20Regulation,%201873.pdf
            So, the people demanding for the ILP are well within their constitutional rights.The reason for its demand in Shillong deserves further attention. Janice has made her position clear on this point in her article. It is also not strange that the agitations should gain momentum when assembly elections are around the corner. Politics in India has always relied on divisive, communal tendencies for its survival. This is not unique to Shillong alone. The sooner we realize this the better because from where I’m sitting, we are all implicated and, ultimately, pay the price for belonging to one community or another.

  10. Its very sad to hear about this violent incident that has scarred you. Delhi is inhabited mainly by refugees, who fled from the violence of partition, with just a shirt on their back or less. Over 2 generations they have prospered, driven by naked aggression. Today they are better off, but the savagery imbibed duing their survival days has yet to leave them.
    Mankind has been civilised for only 5,000 years out of the 200,000 years that homo sapiens have been around on Earth. So, civilised behaviour is only a thin sheen – scratch hard, and the savage will show.

  11. I feel sorry and ashamed. I can feel and understand your predicament and anguish too. In my opinion people in Delhi are brought up on violence and it is their upbringing and attitude to make a mockery of the law and social etiquette is what makes them what they are. It is an unsafe city for anyone and more specifically for the women and those who can not speak or behave unruly like Delhites.. Though I was born in Delhi but have never lived there but I do get a sense of insecurity even though I may speak their language. Stay Blessed. Peace Be With You.

  12. @Janice
    Am ashamed that we let it happen, in ‘our’ country’s very capital. Sometimes i feel like fighting it back with all the guns in the world but then, i know i can’t, i know it isn’t right, it isn’t the way! Our solidarity is with you. Thank you for writing and sharing. Thank you for showing this courage.

    Warm regards

  13. A warm, tight hug for you, Janice! I am a Mumbaikar…but still apologise to you and your friend for the unfair and shocking violence meted out to you. I want to go with you to that spot and stare into the eyes of that woman in the blue salwar kameez. I want to exorcise her from you memory…..

  14. Dear Janice, How brave of you to have come out with this story. I am an Assamese , married to a Tamilian living in Mumbai and have lived in Africa for 7 years. This fear/ hatred of the outsider is something I have seen in all places. It’s important that educated liberal minded people like us speak up about it. Or the violent, narrow minded ones would have won. More power to your pen. And while I agree that Delhi is a vile place for people from the North East, the North East is also a vile place for people from the rest of India. I wish things were not like this. Let us try to change things in whatever little way that we can.

  15. I understand your pain! Despite being brought up in Delhi–I’ve faced many a challenges…from being rubbed in a bus while traveling to college, to being stalked after work while driving…still I’m here…many a times I felt like leaving the place, but I could not–partly because of the fact that my family and friends are here, my social circle is here and also because I love the art and culture!

    Yes, Delhi is a violent place but my request to you is to face the trouble you experienced, that is the best way to heal..forgive but never forget!

    and yes, move on! 🙂

    1. What a moving, thought provoking, introspective discussion. Thanks Janice and everyone else. Just one point I would like to add: I think a key issue coming up in every major crime related to Delhi is the role of the Delhi police. Why, as in the case of assault on the Arunachal student, did the police not file an FIR? Why did they not act to put that murderous lot into police custody straight away? Who gave them the mandate to strike a compromise, thereby leaving the thugs free to assault the boy a second time? Why is the Delhi Police not under the control of the Delhi State Government and answerable to it, as rightly pointed out by Arvind Kejriwal? There are strong pointers in this and so many other incidents to the politicisation of the police and this is the first thing we the public jointly need to tackle in everyone’s interest — for a safer Delhi, safer Shillong or anywhere else.

  16. Delhi is a provincial violent village where whatever culture that remained has been usurped by corrupt vote-bank pandering politicians and the real estate mafias and overnight billionaires who made their money off of neighbouring states.

    I have lived in Delhi all my life and will continue to do so. I have 2 young sons and these days I am glad that they are boys because this city is a disaster for women. I am glad that they are my complexion and not my wife’s (who is half-european) and I forbid (yes forbid) her to travel alone outside a very limited swathe of south central delhi….

    That said, all the freakin Lal Dora villages should be bulldozed and acquired by the government….all the easy money coming to the thugs in each and every fucking sarai – katwaria or lado or what have you will stop and they may actually have to work for a living…

  17. Dear Janice,
    As, some have already noted all types of violence on race, caste and religion, etc., should be condemned and stopped. I think People residing or coming to North East face problem due to non assimilation of cultures trapped behind many walls. This reflects in violence against them in other cities and there indifference and hatred to non-tribals in North East. You may be aware of ILP issue which has taken few lives of innocent people and costed so much to Govt Machinery. This is one of the byproduct of this mutual alienation. It also need a revisit into Property Rights and Tax liability of North Eastern Region which serves the rich in the absence of any minimum cap for the deprived lot. This whole issue may be understood in greater social and economic uplift meant of the region at the grassroot and deeper cultural interaction and sensitivity. You may also know the recent emergence of landless labour in North East which was a more equitable system in property distribution till last decade. Hope people will be more sensitive to each other !

  18. somebody needs to see the larger picture here, in terms of the sociological history of Delhi.
    How is it that the capital which has been usually very welcoming of outsiders is turning into this hell?

  19. As a woman I can well understand your reluctance to talk about the incident, and it’s brave of you to do that. Many of my close friends in college were from the NE states of India. And one thing I know about them, they do not mess with folks unless messed with. If today things are getting out of hand in the NE states, it is certainly because for years and years they have been treated unfairly by mainland India. In Calcutta of the ’80s my NE friends had to face snide remarks and racism, some of it out of jealousy, because they were smarter looking and wore better clothes, could play the guitar etc. What saddens me that it’s gotten worse. I mourn this young boy who died so needlessly, he had his whole life ahead of him. I despise those who try to justify this disgusting violence, cowardly behaviour. In solidarity with you Janice

  20. during the shillong arson cases, what motive the perpetrators had no-one knows, but the victim was an easy target for his being a dkhar.. maybe nido could also be easily assaulted, for he was a mongoloid tribal in delhi. when u r different, u r an easy target. but that has atleast not stopped me from loving shillong and staying put here, even though i’m a dkhar, and having friends among the locals. the politics of the other will always exist.

  21. About the author: Janice is currently the Charles Wallace Writer in Residence at the University of Kent. She was with Time Out Delhi in 2008, and began freelancing in 2009 and moved to hometown Shillong, Meghalaya soon.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janice_Pariat

    From this blog:
    Before we could catch a breath, we were surrounded. People poured out of doors and side gates.
    While I’ve made some of my closest friends in Delhi, and there, met lovely, bright, cultured folk, I’ve also been humiliated, time and again, and beaten.

    My comment: I sincerely wish she makes a point to bring these people to book — taking help from friends. Unfair to attempt to portray entire Delhi as savage through this article.

    1. Dear Jyoti,

      In no way is my intention to portray ‘entire Delhi as savage’ – this is a piece written as a reflection on violence specifically because of what happened with Nido, the young Arunichali boy, beaten and killed. Delhi is a place, for me, of many friends that I miss dearly. It is where I studied and tried to call home for many years. Yet it is undeniably a hard place to live.

  22. @Sameer/abc,
    As long as people like you view the world as ‘us’ and ‘them’, the world will continue to burn in flames. Violence in any form is unjustifiable whether it is caused by the tribals in NE on the non-tribals or it is caused by a Delhite on NE. It is unfortunate that people like you do not acknowledge the varied diversities and you view the world not as a collection of people, but as a federation of religions and civilizations. When I say ‘people like you’ I don’t mean just a ‘mainland Indian’ like you but I also mean a Northeastern who identify people on the basis of broad categories like region/nationality/sex/race/caste etc. If only people like you would understand that a strong and exclusive sense of belonging to one group can in many cases carry with it the perception of distance and divergence from other groups. If only people like you realize, a person’s religion/nationality/regionality need not be his or her exclusive identity. For example, I can be at the same time an Indian citizen, a North Eastern, an Assamese, an economic researcher, an Artist, ,a footballer. These are diverse categories that I can simultaneously belong with equal importance but if the ‘mainland Indian’ views me just as a North Eastern he will have nothing in common with me and will only enlarge the divide between him and me. Similarly, if a NE does not acknowledge the plurality of identities of a ‘mainland Indian’ then there will be no hope of harmony and unity in diversity in our already troubled world.

    1. @Pallavi,
      You got me entirely wrong here . All I wanted to point out was for Janice to have a look at all parts of the country . Racism is an evil and it has to stop in all parts of the country . And I really hate this word “Mainland”. NE is also as mainland as it can get . I have friends from all “castes” and “creed”, if you wanna put it that way . But doesnt that young man who got burnt alive in NEHU( a university in Shillong , Meghalaya) deserve to be heard too. This is just an example I am giving . You and I know that these things happen all over . We just need to unite and be liberal . Tough as it may sound .

  23. Dear JJ,

    Two of your recent blog-posts have touched a chord. When you wrote about the insularity and xenophobia that prevails in the NE I was glad that someone else from the region shared thoughts similar to mine. And this account of what happened in Lado Sarai made my blood boil at the sheer brutality, cowardice and ignorance of your attackers.

    I too was beaten up a long time ago by a gang of taxi drivers because I confronted one of them who had almost knocked me off my bike. This method (a mob attack against the alone & defenceless) I assure you is not exclusive to Delhi, it is the Indian way and it occurs with a regrettable regularity just about everywhere; from Dimapur to Ahmedabad, and from Leh to Pondy.

    Delhi does get a deservedly bad rap for crimes against women, the disgraceful treatment of Africans and of course the disdain towards Northeasterners. But are “outsiders” significantly worse off in Delhi than in other Indian cities like Bombay, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata or even Guwahati? I don’t think so and in fact I would argue that those not from the city have a far better chance of laying roots and making it here than in any other Indian city. The reason is every other city is “owned” by one dominating ethnic group, even sainted Mumbai. Not so Delhi.Jats & Gujjars, Punjabis & Sikhs, Bhaiyas & Biharis – all live here in very large numbers but this city belongs to none of them.

    So the attempts at ethnic cleansing that we witnessed in Bangalore last year and earlier in Bombay and currently ongoing in many parts of the NE, wouldn’t succeed here. In fact this is a big reason why there are far more people from different parts of the country in Delhi than in any other city.

    But then why, you may ask, do blacks and notheasterners bear the brunt of Delhi’s unique brand of unfriendliness? That I am afraid is a reflection of racial prejudice desi style, prevalent everywhere and by no means limited to Delhi. It goes like this – Kiss up to whites, kick down the blacks and treat the “chinkies” with contempt!

    Best,

    Mohan

      1. I’m of mixed parentage – North East and North (Delhi). I’ve lived and studied in the North East and Delhi. The problem exists in both places. In the North East – people from the plains are mocked and troubled as much. Only the fact that they go as tourists which are a source of livelihood for the locals saves them. They are always itching for a fight when they see people better off than them. I feel its more economic frustration on both sides.

      2. Not quite. Only in places like Lado Sarai and other swallowed-up-whole-by-the-city villages. Ironically, Delhi’s slums or Jhuggi-jhopdi colonies as they are called are friendlier, because they are inhabited by migrants.

  24. Hi Janice
    Have read both your articles , the one on Shillong and the one on Delhi. While I have someone very close who was subjected to eve-teasing ironically by the eves in the meghalaya , I have also had the experience of tribal friends defying a bandh to help us give my mother a decent funeral…… Having spent all time here since birth , I also have the privilege of being the only’non-tribal’ in an institution where the rest of the employees are ‘tribals’ .. and I can’t even speak the local language though I devour the local cuisine….. that’s my story……

  25. I am sorry to read this, Janice. I am a Bengali who was born in north India and brought up in Mumbai, and spent several years in Delhi as a student. I have worked in several parts of India, and keep travelling to the northeast too, quite often. Of all cities and towns in the country, Delhi is the worst. The average Delhiite knows nothing of the land beyond the Vindhyas, least of all the northeast. Their xenophobia makes every Indian who does not look a northerner suspect. A woman, from whatever part of the world, is suspect, if she is living life on her own terms.
    Even if one were to accept that non-tribals are treated badly in parts of the northeast, the Arunachalis have never been violent. Nido’s death is a huge blot on the collective identity of Delhi!

    1. Well the Arunachalis have indeed been violent. Just a few days before the Nido incident, on the 30th of January, villagers from Arunachal – a mob – gunned down 11 people from Assam and injured a dozen others inside Assam territory in the district of Sonitpur. Such violent incidents are not uncommon and harassment of innocent people along the Assam-Arunachal border is a routine occurrence.
      These incidents are supported by the political machinery of Arunachal whose single point agenda is to grab Assam land, Arunachal Pradesh being a hilly state does not have much plains and has encroached on an approximate 50000 Ha of Assam.
      Having said that, I condemn Nido’s death in the strongest of terms. But what is surprising is the absolute lack of coverage of the other incident . Are we angered by deaths only selectively ? Only those deaths and violence that can boost up TRP ratings are to be condemned and rest ignored ?

  26. Oh god Janice! I am sooo sooo sorry for whatever happened to you and X. Its inhuman. I am from darjeeling and yes, i know the feeling. its much too familiar.. 🙁

  27. Reading this for a moment everything went still around me for a while. I know and can feel and understand what you might have gone through it reminds me when i came to this city 16 yrs back caught myself thinking at times am still living here, ,” I also survived Delhi!’and would say Isn’t it tragic that’s how one seems to feel about a city?but then things took ugly turn when it comes to revenge…. What happened to you and your friend was horrific. I’m sorry.all i would say if you could let me know the right address and if you could remember from where the man apporaced you (which house)…all i can promise you that i would give back the right reply to the blue salwar lady.
    Take care
    Corol
    Lots of love,
    Mimi.

  28. Reading this for a moment everything went still around me for a while. I know and can feel and understand what you might have gone through it reminds me when i came to this city 16 yrs back caught myself thinking at times am still living here, ,” I also survived Delhi!’and would say Isn’t it tragic that’s how one seems to feel about a city?but then things took ugly turn when it comes to revenge…. What happened to you and your friend was horrific. I’m sorry.all i would say if you could let me know the right address and if you could remember from where the man apporaced you (which house)…all i can promise you that i would give back the right reply to the blue salwar lady.
    Take care
    Corol

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