The great North India – South India divide

Having being born and brought up in a typical Punjabi household in New Delhi our only exposure to the culture of the southern part of India (apart from those dull & dreary NCERT school books) was through the movies where typically the south Indian guy was to be seen in a garish combination of yellow shirt and green trousers or at best in a banyan & lungi with a heavily accented voice which further tweaked when he had to say “Aaeeyooo Amma”…..we would laugh whole heartedly at this character and soon enough he  became a image representative for the entire south India….the region didn’t matter nor did the state (assuming the Punjabi’s would know the names of the states) and a generic term was added to our dictionary…..Madarasi.

It seemed irrelevant whether the person hailed from Kerala, Andhra, Tamil Nadu or Karnataka….they are all put under one umbrella and termed as Madarasi’s… any Punjabi would simply put it….”What difference does it make”?…….”They all look alike” and then burst out into peals of laughter.    

But then its always a two-way street – while one side snickers about the ‘arrey yaars’ and dub their sense of dressing ‘hilarious’ and flashy, the other side laughs about the ‘aiyos,’ the ‘yennada rascals’ and the general need to add curd to food items.

I guess it works the same way that the south Indians perceive the people from the north….though the poke at the accents may be missing north Indians are often considered as loud, flashy and uncultured. Part of this is true….at least on being loud and flashy and having returned back to my home town (New Delhi) after 15 odd years I do see that not much has changed on these two factors. Your address and the car that you drive are the primary indicators of your success factor and give you an instant acceptability into society. I stay in a posh locality in South Delhi called  GK 2 but in the absence of my flashy office car I nowadays drive my wife’s Santro and the expressions of the neighbours and their drivers or even the chowkidar’s state that I am a misfit in this place. I know this will change into admiration when I get my own BMW. It may seem appalling but it’s true.

What creates this divide amongst the south Indians and the north Indians? It is not a myth and my 5 years spent in Bangalore have often thrown me up against situations which clearly define this divide…it’s not a question of who feels what but the feeling is mutually shared between the north Indians and the south Indians ….and some of the times it is painfully evident. The divide on the basis  of language, skin color, cuisine, attire is all well defined and accepted….but then why the divide between the people? We don’t ridicule or make fun of the Japanese or Europeans when there is also a great distinction basis of language, skin color, cuisine and attire. I have been doing some research on this but have failed to come to any conclusive reasons for the same…..according to many scholars the Aryan and Dravidian divide theory has failed to prove itself. Or does the nucleus of the prejudice lie in the language barrier? There has often been a situation where a north Indian and a south Indian have to converse in a foreign language (English) as they do not have any other commonality.

Honestly I could not find the answers.

But what I can say is that just because you’re from Delhi doesn’t mean you speak poor English, just because you’re from Chennai doesn’t mean you walk around with oily hair and curd rice in your lunch box….and just because you’re from Bihar does not mean that you’re a thief! We’re all Indian.

But the debate continues and I take the liberty to dig a few pokes at both the sides………

So here are a few pokes at the north Indians……

  1. Before marriage the north Indian girl looks almost like a bollywood heroine and after marriage you have to go around her twice to completely hug her.
  2. The only dishes she can think of to cook is paneer butter masala, paneer  tikka, shahi paneer, paneer parathas and after eating all that paneer she is bound to be indisposed with chronic gas disorder.
  3. When you come home from office she is very busy watching “Kyonki saas bhi kabi bahu thi” that you either end up eating outside or cooking yourself.
  4. She always thought that Madras is a state and covers the whole of south India.
  5. She has greater number of relatives than the number of people you have in your home town.
  6. She thinks Govinda can dance better than Michael Jackson.

And here are a few pokes at the south Indians……..

  1. Her mother looks down at you because you didn’t study in IIT or graduated from any of the IIM’s.
  2. She has long hair, neatly oiled and braided (The Dubai based Oil Company is signing a 20 year contract with her to extract coconut oil from her hair).
  3. Her name is another name for a Goddess or a flower.
  4. Her first name is longer than your first name, middle name and surname combined.
  5. When she mixes milk/curd and rice you are never sure whether it is for the dog or for herself.
  6. For weddings, she sports a mini jasmine garden on her head and wears heavy silk saris in the Madras heat without looking too uncomfortable.

6 thoughts on “The great North India – South India divide”

  • And for the last time it is “Chennai”…… long before the british and now. If you were not born in british india then why call it “Madras”. 😛

  • “and just because you’re from Bihar does not mean that you’re a thief! We’re all Indian.”

    LOL NO we’re not.. just forcing this false sense of umbrella term doesn’t negate the fact that South Indians are culturally,racially,lingually and ethnically different from North Indians… and they are also more progressive and less poor than North Indians..

  • Hi,

    I came across this post when I was trying to find the reason for this notorious ‘north-south’ divide and liked the fact you have given your opinion with a funny spin (trust me..this is after reading several forums where people attack each other as if their kith and kin were tortured and killed by a person from the ‘Other’ state). My husband and I have pretty much forgotten that we are from different cultures but apparently others can’t. I find it amusing when people are so curious to learn how this marriage even works out.

    Whatever it is, we enjoy our long list of recipes to try and festivals to celebrate and it’s fun.

    Good luck finding the cause of this divide. Let me know if you find out some day.

    • Hii Nita. Awesome to know that u r in a happy marriage with a culturally different Indian. So much as I hate the north south divide, I would have loved to hv happily married to my north Indian ex gf. It would have been so much fun but alas it didn’t workout ( not because of the north south divide though). I want to kill this north south ego divide

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