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Muslim or Marwari?

July 19th, 2007

18/07/2007

“So, what are you? Muslim or marwari?”
For a moment, I did not know where the either-or choices were coming from? Why only either Muslim or Marwari? Why not some other either-or combination?
“Muslim,” I replied immediately, without feeling any sense of insecurity, apprehension or fear.
“Okay,” they said. These are women who are part of a sangha in the Ambedkarnagar slum.
I went along down along with them when their weekly sangha meeting was over. Sujeetha, the only bachelor member of the sangha was also walking down with her cousin who has just come to Bangalore from their village beyond Chennai. I joked with Sujeetha asking her why she is not married. She laughed and asked why I was not married. I asked her then,
“Why did you ask whether I was Muslim or marwari?”
“You see,” she began, “most of us women work in Koramangala. I work in the National Games Complex. Now most of the house owners here are Marwaris. So I asked if you were marwari. You say you are from Bombay. So you have also come from outside like the marwaris. So you are also a migrant.”
I smiled. I remembered what Murthy had said to me on my first visit to Ambedkarnagar. He had mentioned that “15% of the people in this slum are Hindi” and by Hindi, he meant not North Indians, but Muslims “who had stayed back in India when the rest of the Muslims had gone away to Pakistan.”
I was amused at Sujeetha’s analysis, not because I thought she was naïve or something. But rather because she had a very straightforward analysis of how things are in Bangalore and how I get viewed in her worldview.
Muslim or marwari? Aha! The contests are beginning to show up!

xanga

  1. November 5th, 2007 at 06:20 | #1

    Ok, You’re in the circuit now.
    You have just been awarded!