Born and brought up in my home state - Tripura, I was totally unaware about people outside my region. Movies and advertisements had pictured a wonderful country with diversity and everyone living together in equity.
Being a part of North East, my approach towards people and environment has always been different. While, clean environment is just a fairytale for the rest of the India, North East is the most famous for its natural beauty. While growing up, we had a different language and so it was obvious that on receiving tourists who primarily spoke hindi, I always saw people of my place trying to speak their language to make them feel homely and hospitable.
When I got admitted in a college in Punjab, the situations I experienced were exactly opposite to what I had expected, for instance in the initial days of college, people so rarely knew where Tripura was. Language was always a trouble, people in spite of knowing the difficulty I face with Punjabi would almost refuse to cooperate with me. People sometimes make fun of me when I can’t speak proper Hindi- a language which has allotted genders even to inanimate objects (eg- car is considered a female); while common languages in the North East like Assamese, Bengali, English make no such discriminations.
I am a Bengali so I almost resemble north Indians, but people with small eyes and distinguishing features face even more hardships, discrimination and challenges. They are called names and are misbehaved with much frequently than I ever am.
It’s not just the people, the media and the government also forget to mention this part of the country. One common instance is during 2017, when the media widely covered and debated on the issue of tomato price hike. At the same time in the Northeastern part of the country, Assam and Tripura were in floods, life had come to a halt there but the rest of the India just didn’t know about it at all.
Our country has a lot to learn from the small community of north easeterners, who welcome the Northern and the Southern countrymen equally and whole heartedly, for receiving almost nothing in return.