Posted by: Kaushik | April 30, 2007

The outsider

It is Saturday evening. I’m waiting at Borough tube station which is about a 10 minute walk from London Bridge and situated near the South Bank of the Thames. It is an area known for it’s muggings and being fairly unsafe. I’m waiting at the bus stop for a couple of friends to attend a friend’s flat warming party. I’m accosted by 2 drunk men who yell loudly that it is because of fucking cunts like me the country is dirty. I don’t reply and I keep quiet. One of them starts to pick a fight with me and I walk into the grocery store next door and they follow me in and I wait for them to leave. I then decide to go wait in the pub nearby because there are enough unsavoury characters outside.

It is the next Friday evening and my flatmate is dressed in traditional Indian garb for a dinner. He meets some youths on the bus who ask him to go back to his country and that he’s not welcome here. The same evening I encounter 3 skinheads and experience a volley of some more racial abuse. I stay quiet because confrontation is best avoided in these circumstances.

Diplacement leads to all sorts of disappointment and anger. The area where I stay once used to be a Jewish stronghold and it is now populated solely by Bangladeshis. Up further north, an area which used to be populated by Englishmen has now become a Ukranian stronghold. People are extremely worried about losing their jobs and economic status.

The Tamilians were targetted in the late 1960’s and 1970’s by the Shiv Sena because they felt that the Maharashtrians were losing jobs to them and that they were not from Bombay. A similar resentment is felt towards the rest of the country who migrate to Bangalore for jobs and drive up property prices and the cost of living make it unfeasible for lots of Bangaloreans to stay.

Who is a Bangalorean or a Bombaykar for that matter? Is Mr. Bindra who has lived in Cantonment since 1955 less of a Bangalorean than Mr. Thimappa who came in 2000? Is Mr. Kumar from Chembur who has seen 3 generations of his family grow up in Bombay not a true Bombaykar? These questions persist but despite all this I believe the world is not as hospitable to free movement as it was in the 19th century. The late 19th century was a glorious achievement in terms of movement of people and growth in world trade and services with it’s peak in the times 1870-1890. Everyone’s trying to make a better life for themselves and they migrate to greener pastures and new avenues.

Where is home when I’m not in Bangalore? Where I lay my head, one hopes.

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Responses

  1. wow..scary man…stay smart and safe bro.


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