If I am not born Maharashtrian, it does not mean I can't ask you to keep the state clean


My best friend is Marathi. It was my favourite subject in school and the language still is. Some of my closest friends and favourite people speak Marathi. I am the only Mumbaiite to run a Mumbai local trains blog to help Mumbai commuters. No one is paying me for that, yet despite fibromyalgia, I manage to keep you all updated because I want to help people of this city and suburbs. I hardly see hardly see people switching off the fans in local train compartments if it is the last stop at a non-peak hour so that some power can be saved. I have politely asked commuters throwing rubbish in /out of trains to discontinue this practice almost every single day, so that the city remains clean. Once a foreigner in Rajasthan told me how she found it strange to see Mumbai people littering on the streets. Even knowing that she was right, I argued and defended Mumbai's pride.

I never thought of myself anything else but a proud Mumbaiite and Indian, and a good global citizen. I was never made to think that I do not belong to a particular region. Never in my 35 years of life I had strongly felt that, "Oh I am not a Maharashtrian!"

The thing I always loved about Mumbai and Maharashtra was that we all enjoy maximum equality and there has been nodiscrimination. I never thought I will have to some day justify my presence in this city / Panvel. But today (10th April 2013) I got a bad taste of racism / communalism or whatever it is called. Right in a crowded Panvel Market when people were shopping for the New Year tomorrow. Just after I told my neighbour excitedly that I love the festive spirit here as people are shopping for Gudi Padwa as well as Ugadi.

A shopkeeper was rinsing his mouth with water from a bottle and spitting it out outside his shop in a crowded Panvel market. We were just passing from there to the next shop that sold flowers. I was already carrying some flowers meant for prayers. The water he spit out fell on my feet. At first I thought he didn't notice so I waited for him to stop and apologise before I moved ahead. But he continued rinsing and spitting even as he saw us standing there. The drops fell on my feet and shopping bags again. So I asked him mnot to do so and also consider that people are standing when he is doing that.

He started fighting and shouting immediately. I told him in Hindi / English, "Aap aise kaise kar sakte ho, ek toh aapki galti hai upar se aap mujh pe chilla rahe ho! Kam se kam say sorry!"

He lost it and came on to me aggressively, insultingly saying, "Aapko Marathi nahi aati hai, aap idhar se jao."

He looked so furious and came so close I thought he might hit me. My feet were shaking, I was feeling so much panic, but I said, "Maine Marathi mein nahi bola toh kya hua?"

But he went on the Marathi pitch and asked me to leave, screaming, "Kya kar logey? Aapko Marathi nahi aati hai aap jao yahaan se!"

That's when I tried to explain that Marathi Hindi kya hai, hum sab Indian hai! India ki kisi bhi bhaasha mein baat kar sakte hain.

At least 10-15 people were witnessing this closely being a very crowded place that day. But none came to defend me as that man spoke insultingly coming out of his shop and very close to me. None but one gentleman eventually asked him to be quiet and at least consider that he is talking to a woman. Not about woman though, this was about being an Indian.

But the shopkeeper was still furious, I have no idea why. I told the Good Samaritan that how can people talk like this! This is our country, our India, yeh toh racism communalism waali baatein kar raha hai. People just looked at me and went ahead with their work. I really thank the Good Samaritan to calm us down.

But I still can't stop shaking. It's been over an hour and I am at home but tears do not stop rolling down, feet tremble at intervals even when I started talking to my friend. I didn't go to work today as I am very sick with my symptoms at their peak. Managed to shop for puja somehow. But I have never felt so bad, so humiliated in my life. My fibromyalgia will never be cured, but I want this mentality to be cured. When our freedom fighters fought for independence, they never said they are from so and so region... They fought for the country as one.

When those terrible terrorism attacks happen, we feel all are in sorrow and help like a country, not like a region. We cheer for India when Indian team plays. It's not that when a particular language speaking person comes to bat, only people speaking that language cheer. I don't even know what languages each of the players speak... How does it matter when we are all Indians!!!

So I still can't get over what happened... I know this stress will ruin my FMS symptoms even more. That for a week I might mot be able to move or sleep much. But that's okay. I have compromised with the illness. But I don't want to compromise when it comes to be an Indian. I just want to feel the independence our freedom fighters fought hard for. I love to speak in Marathi. I try to speak in Marathi when I feel like improving my fluency and because I love the language. But I do not want to speak in Marathi because I fear that if I don't, I won't be considered a citizen of this country's particular region. Not because I fear that if I don't, people will feel free to humiliate me. Not because I fear that some shopkeeper feels he can spit unapologetically as I do not speak Marathi and then no one will come to support me.

My heartbeats were fast, my feet were shaky and my tears won't stop due to shock and sorrow when our city faced terror attacks. I cried every time I watched the news. Today, I feel the same. Terrorized and scared and sad. I don't want to feel like this because of anyone from our city, our country. Ever since I shifted to Panvel I have been praising it a lot, every time... You can ask anyone. But a couple of smaller incidents happened a few days back and today's incident, and now I feel speechless and shocked.

I am certain that the 10-15 onlookers would have come to help me as that man hurled aggressive insults and spoke in a very bad manner. But I feel the fact that he took the Marathi language pitch, prevented them from saying a word. Seriously, what has happened to us? On one hand we talk about our unity and the spirit of Mumbai, on the other hand we face such instances because we do not speak a particular language?



Indian, Mumbaiite & Panvelite


  1. This is what short sighted vote bank rhetoric causes... this kind of divide and rule policy ruins the unity of our country. If you can take the photo of the shop and lets pass it around to people on the internet.

    1. Thank you Harish. You are so right. I don't know what has happened to some people.
      I could do that photo thing but I think it might enrage the person and seeing the fanaticism in him today, I am frankly scared. Also seeing that no one (except one kind man) in that crowded market who was around us and heard the entire conversation say a single thing, or at least asked that person to talk politely to a woman, I think it won't help. What if he comes and does me some harm? I am ashamed to confess that I fear people coming to my doorstep and start vandalism. I also do not want to create tension in the city as tomorrow's the New Year. I don't know if I am right about this. But at this moment I am shocked, confused and scared.
      This was not the kind of country I was born in, this was not the kind of city I was raised in :(

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  3. me too an proud Mumbaiite and yeah these thoughts need a change and the change can happen only through some action, reaction to stop such sad happenings

  4. this is sad. and yet, i know what u mean. happened to me in bangalore once. i was shocked out of my wits. came to delhi shortly after. am not going back.

  5. Don't bother so much..Annu He is one of those ignorant (A>@%^&!s) people around.

  6. That was shocking to see such attitude in mumbai..Don't bother too much about it .He is one those ignorant (A!@#$%^&*) people around - Ranju


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