What with all the uproar surrounding Marathis and Maharashtrians (and it being something that I am quite passionate about) I thought that I'd put in my tuppence on it.
What I will write is nothing new. All that has to be said has been said, far more evocatively and much more in depth by far more influential people. However, that does not mean that I have to keep quiet or not speak. How else is there any chance of me being heard?
I am a Mumbaikar. Or a Bombayite. But it is my right to refer to myself as I want. I will not have any one telling me what to call myself. I am an Indian, true. But if that has to be expanded upon, am I not an "Earther" first? Am I not a "human" first? Wasn't the planet here long before the idea of India or Mumbai or VT or Churchgate? Thus, shouldn't my priorities be first and foremost towards my planet and towards all other peoples before to any one organization or idea. But the whole idea seems so huge; how do I associate myself to a concept of being true to humankind first, and to others next? My method to it is simplistic to a point, and probably mistaken, I am true to myself first, and to others next. I do not do what others want me to do, I may not behave nice in a social setting, I may not acquiesce to your viewpoint just to make you feel better. But I do what feels true to me. Sometimes I do make nice, true, but you must realize that I do it only when I am convinced of the need for it. Others' considerations are secondary to the fact that I have to be convinced of it. In turn, I do not ask for you to play nice with me. I am ready to listen to your viewpoint and grant you credit for the same. I will not rabidly turn on you, trying to convince you of my ideas and I only ask that you do the same. The only time where I might disagree is if and only if, I have hard, cold facts to back me up. On ideas and ideologies, you are free to think. And it is this freedom of thinking that has in turn influenced me to live in India. Of course, the money is more in the Middle East. But I somehow feel oppressed. As if I need to watch what I think. There will come a point in my life, where I will be sufficiently worn down enough to realize that earning 2-3 times of what I am currently is a big enough reason for me to tone down my thinking. Or that, if I tone it down for a period of 2-3 years, I can then come back and then 'think' all I want. But I recognize the fact. And if (when??) I compromise, it will again be of my own choosing.
Which is why these Shiv Sainiks drive me mad. Who gave you the right to tell me what to call myself? If I'd been around when you were doing your protests 30-40 years back, then yes, you might have some claim as to what I did or did not do. I am not against the party. They hold a special place in Mumbai folklore, and I am not denying the fact that they might have done some things for the benefit of the people one upon a time. But how long can they run a party on what is essentially a 30-ro year old plank? Case in point: Refer to the recent 'hilarious' video of Uddhav Thackeray being interviewed by Rajdeep Sardesai. He again and again brings out the point that we will not let anyone seperate Mumbai from Maharashtra. Who has ever raised this point? I find it very similar to the Pakistanis' "we will not want to fight a war on this issue" campaign of disinformation, wherein they raise the flag of war over and over, just to keep people incited. And what can people on the other side do? India cannot deny the fact that it does not want to fight a war, but neither can they agree because then it seems that a war was what we had in mind in the first place! It is a similar case here. The other parties can neither agree nor disagree to this statement. Just to keep in perspective, the issues that the Shiv Sena is raising in a world of Ipads and Androids is one that was initially brought about when the 4004 chip by Intel was released and when BASIC was just an idea in Bill Gates's mind.
Shiv Sainiks, who gave you the right to deny me the moniker of a Mumbaikar? I refuse to listen to you. I spent half of my childhood in my Maharashtrian neighbours house. My grandmother possibly loves their daughter more than me and she is a proper south indian. I can speak Marathi well enough to deceive a native Maharashtrian for some amount of time. I watch Marathi movies in theatres and listen to Marathi songs. Some of my Maharashtrian friends call me up when they can't remember the names of that marathi movie they had seen. How many malayalam movies have you watched? If only you had spent this time and effort on improving this city's infrastructure, Mumbai would have been the greatest city on the planet. Sadly, though, I feel our time is past. We have just fallen behind and it will take a Herculean effort for us to recover. Unfrotunately, the will for the same seems to be strangely absent. And so I despair...