Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Maximum City -- Being Indian in the Indian Capital

The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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Being Indian in the Indian Capital

A lady from Northeast India is called 'chinky noodle' in Delhi.

[Text and picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]

One day Ms Sonam Tsomo was the eldest BA-pass daughter of respectable middle-class parents (papa in fire brigade, mummy a housewife).

The next, she is in the capital of her country and ceases to be respectable. Instead, she's an easy catch, a "chinky noodle", a "Chinese", a woman who is asked her "rate" as she walks down the road.

Those slurs have nothing to do with who Ms Tsomo is – but what she looks like. Her small eyes and flat nose set her apart from the people of the city, and for them, her appearance is her CV.

"Each time people make opinions about me because of my racial features, I feel as if I don't belong to India," says Ms Tsomo, 30, who first came to Delhi 10 years ago, working as a receptionist, then a restaurant hostess, a television producer and finally a public relations executive.

"It hurts," she says, reaching out for her banana muffin at the Defence Colony Barista. We were sitting by the window-side. "But you try to ignore it, as you can't go around slapping those guys."

Back home in Kalimpong, a hill town in West Bengal, "where there are no opportunities" Ms Tsomo was just another face in the crowd. But she was worldly-wise and had a fair idea of what she was getting into when she took a bumpy bus ride to New Jalpaiguri, and from there a 16-hour train journey to Delhi.

"I knew we people would be teased as chinkies," she said, wearing a long flowing white skirt. "But I didn't know I would be treated so differently from other Indian girls."

She had never imagined she would be looked down as "a lady of loose character."

"Of course, it's not articulated in words when somebody thinks that we people from North-East are prostitutes but there's that hint in the air. I can recognise their prejudice."

Ms Tsomo recall instances when bouncers in nightclubs turned her and her friends away.

"They thought we people are too easy-going and would dance around with 10 guys and then there would be ugly scenes," she says. "The bouncer would lie and tell us that the place is already full. However, we would see that 'Indian' people who came after us would be let in."

Since then, Ms Tsomo, an Amar Colony resident, has grown used to insults targeted towards people from her region. But it still hits hard when her sister or close friends come visiting.

"I'm very protective about them," she says. "And it pains me when they have to undergo the humiliation."

Too bad she can do little except asking them to take proper precautions: don't look into men's eyes, don't smile at people, don't react if anyone calls you 'chinky'.

Once a friend of hers, fresh from Kalimpong, went shopping to Lajpat Nagar where a young man rolled down his car window and asked, "Chinky, what's your rate?"

The friend had prepared herself for the worst – eve-teasing, groping, and even rape-like situations, just like any Delhi girl – but she could not stomach this.

"She cried like hell that night," Ms Tsomo remembers.

Despite these horror tales, the lady is not giving up on Delhi.

"I have made many Indian friends … they call me `chinky' only pyar-se (affectionately)", she says.


roopa said...

TAke it easy tsomo, you have made it in Delhi is triumph enough. Their considering you a prostitute is because every small and big town of India has a "nepali Galli" where girls from nepal end up in brothels.
Delhi has a particularly mean third rate culture. If you are modestly dressed u r abehenji, if you are smartly dressed you must be a pro. THe trick lies in ignoring cheapskates.

SexyBoi said...

Awwww.. don't worry I think you just have to be very strong to survive in a place like Delhi(or India for that matter). I am a blue-eyed italian looking Indian millionaire who lives in Europe and even I face discrimination in India more than anywhere else in the world. Sadly Indian people are each others biggest enemies - so dont feel bad about yourself being here due to the way you look - just think that no matter what - you will be JUDGED in this country - you can be black, white, yellow or brown... people just don't know how to mind their own business in India.... so best advice - Be confident, dress sexy the way you want to, and screw the people who judge you - and next time someone asks you about your rate - just say (with an attitude).. SORRY..BUT LOOKING AT YOU - I DON'T THINK YOU CAN AFFORD ME...MOVE ON....

Anonymous said...

thank god.finally, someone's talking about the blatant racial and sexist discrimination that people of north-east india as well as anyone who looks east-asian suffers . i am tibetan who was born and brought up in india.india feels like home to me but when i'm in delhi, i get treated differently. Racism against people who with east-features is rampant. Just because of the actions of a few women, an entire group/people are labelled as 'whore like' and 'skanky'. that's totally f*&^%$ up.And because of this discrimination, i hardly if ever go clubbing. I'd rather party at me own place and have a good time with friends than be subject to racist treatment by the "real Indians"(someone else's words). People need to stop hating and generalizing. Racism is never cool!

indian said...

For all the talk of secularism, this is how we have made it so far, take everything with a pinch of salt and you'd be fine.... just think about it there are so many people living in delhi alone, its practically impossible to educate everyone....

Rima Kaur said...

"chinkies" are innately so stylish! anything looks good on them. since most of them migrate to delhi to study, they dont have cars (or any other private transportation) of their own, and are forced to travel in buses and autos, where they have to rub shoulders with weirdoes. tell me, who so shamelessly teases those well heeled women who flit about in their cars? they wear clothes that are short, short shorter (not that i have a problem).

and i guess we just have to deal with the "chinky" name calling. in india, all south indians are madarasis, sardars are dumbasses and gujarati women have big bottoms. (on and on)

Anonymous said...

Reading this entry reminded me of a small incident that happened at Kamla Nagar.I was standing in one of those crowded small lanes having ordered a chicken roll at a small thela(vendor).A group of NE youngsters(both male and female) were crossing the street and from the other end,2 guys on a bike were tryin to make their way through the congested space.Right in front of me,as the NE group was walking,the biker called them chinkis followed by some cheap comments and ordered them to give him space.I watched in shock as the group could do nothing but look down and make way.That incident still haunts me and makes me wonder,is our delhi really a city of dilwallas?
I reside in north delhi,there are plenty of NE students boarding here, and have been witness to such incidents a number of times, all of them leaving me feeling helpless and disgusted at my fellow residents.


Dibyajyoti nath said...

I am a north-east indian with a so called "typical indian look". Currently i am reading in one of north-eastern states. One thing i am sure about them is that you can never know them unless you mingle with them.
Unlike other indian homes they are brought up in a completely different environment. Among others they are given liberty, freedom of speech in family discussions etc. It's a norm here for love marriage and socially acceptable. Rarely does one find an arranged marriage. Since there are 7-9 states having the chinky looks, cultures vary and my point of argument may vary.
In one culture, (garo)meghalaya women are the head of the family. Women give the final call in any discussion.
The people from this place are very resilient, extremely non-violent unless provoked. Girls from here are extremely cute. With their chinky looks they can wear any outfit and it actually fits them.
If you consider another chinky a prostitute next time remember Delhi has a very bad history
All the evils of the society that indian mainland had been fighting for barely even exist here. So in a way other societies has still to learn from them.

prava said...

lol lol...am a 20 year old guy working in call centre...some months back i was returning home around 3 am after my shift. while walking towards ny rented room , a guy suddenly came up and snatched my cell phone and ran away. I chased him (lol that was my foolishness) and cought him in a corner and was thrashing him :-)! Suddenly he started shouting and all the local people who were sleeping outside came rushing and started thrashing me black and blue though I told them what really happened....lol lol i managed to drag myself home and my roomate hospitalised me...lol...yu guys better not lift yur hands to these creeps ...saying for your safety though , I know these guys are born losers! \m/

k2 said...

Been in Delhi 23 years of my life... never have I seen any girl or "chinki" being mistreated. And I have travelled in Bluelines and DTCs for 4 years of my college life... from Munirka to Kapasera... from a place where you find many "chinkis" to a place where general courtesies are considered an insult! Why I ask myself have I never seen this..?

buru said...

"Why I ask myself have I never seen this..?"

the eye does not see what the mind does not know..open ur mind

Vishal said...

To all Indians or those who think they are custodians of Indian Culture etc:


for alienating your own fellow country men and women by discriminating against them:

1. There is a gender based discriminaiton in India

2. There is rampant region based discriminaiton: madrasi vs mallu vs maharastiran vs Bhaiya vs Bhiari (all are laborers or Gunda) vs Dumb Saradji vs Big Bottomed Gujju vs Rude Uncultured Haryanvi Jats vs Chinki vs it goes on ................. then you shout against Pakistan ...... well Pakistan does not need worry about breaking India, We Indians will do it, jut give us few more decades.

3. Color based discrimination: Gori chamdi, Kali chamdi

4. It goes on ...........

Mera Bharat Mahan ..... lets contribute more to break up of the country we all claim to be so proud of .........

We Indians are one of most reacist, biased, bigotted and red-necked lot........ shame shame shame

Vishal said...

@ Sonam

Next time some ask the rate just say this with a sweet smile "Teri Behan Ka Jo Rate Hai us se thoda Jayada De Dena"