1.EVERYONE HERE IS TRIBAL: Yeah, Northeast is home to more than you can count tribes. Any day, I could love to hear the word ‘indigenous people’ rather than ‘tribal’. Anyway, if someone is of the opinion that all the Northeasterners are tribal then it is the second biggest blunder one can commit, first is the blunder to be born as an ‘unteachable’. Want to hear about the upper caste here? Have you heard of Assamese Brahmins or for that matter, Meitei Brahmins (Manipuri Brahmins, locally known as Bamons)? There are lots of caste and sub-caste. Moreover, each tribe of Northeast has their own distinct culture and tradition, so Northeast tribes are very much different from the tribes found in other parts of India. By the way, do not call us ‘jungli’ just because there are lots of jungles in this region; it shows we were born from the womb of nature, metaphorically. You better take lemonade to get over from the Jungle Book hangover. Come and see the serene beauty of our region, its picturesque will make you more civilized which you are not.
2. WE ARE CANNIBALS- I don’t know which anthropological research you were part of if you have found evidence of cannibals existing in Northeast India. As a Naga, I want to say that my forefathers were head hunters and I take pride in it. During war time they had their techniques of winning the battle, even Genghis Khan apart from riding his stallion in the mountain ranges of Mongolia, played mind games by evoking a fear and half of the war was won before it even began, war techniques you fogey. Yes, my forefathers were head hunters but we are and never were cannibals. If your imagination is frozen in time then this article is a burner.
3. WE ARE HARDCORE NON-VEGETARIANS. WE EAT DOG: We all live in a world risked by lifestyle diseases where food habits too count. Like the rest of homo sapiens, Northeasterners too has ears which mean they are aware of the diseases like diabetes, cholesterol, stomach cancer, blood pressure and the list goes on. Vegetables are cheaper than meat, consumption of meat on a daily scale is proving to be a luxury, which even the ‘haves’ finds it uncool. First, not all Northeasterners are non-vegetarians, secondly, go green concept is branching out even here. As for the dog-meat eating part, I heard that there is a belief (it might be traditional knowledge at the display) that dog’s meat prevents malaria and also acts as an anti-aging agent. Well, I don’t know how far it is valid, as I have never consumed dog meat, neither my sister nor my brothers nor my friends. Guess you got that.
4. WE ARE ALL MASTI AND NO STUDY: So, here is it. With a guitar in hand, branded shoes, skull big headphones and English songs on the lips we keep the campus smooth and shine. Which meant to say we are on the campus not to study but to make a career in ‘Look at me, I am not a scholar just a sport. Hire me.’ You got us wrong just like you got the meaning of my Bob Marley’s song ‘No Woman No Cry’ all wrong says no woman no more tears, does not mean if there is no woman there won’t be tears. Sure, we are fun loving for all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but not everyone is into masti. Just because we don’t have the Albert Einstein’s hairdo does not mean we are dumb full on fun. There are lots of Northeasterners who are nerdy. Some youths of Northeast have done so well academically at national and international level. So, please define what ‘masti’ means in your language. Moreover, the suicide rate in academics seems to be increasing so masti is essential, learn from us, you wannabes.
5.RESERVATION THE SAVING GRACE: Reservation which is justified under the term ‘affirmative action’ has been a matter of debate ever since its implementation. No doubt there is a flaw in the way it is being used, who gets when and who gets the benefit under whose expense and blah, blah, blah? But, the problem seems to be showering from above and not springing out from below. If someone has a problem with the current reservation policy then that someone should know that he/she won’t achieve a thing by doubting or mocking the calibre and merit of the person who is reaping the benefit of reservation policy. An allegory, a man was peeing in the public toilet, suddenly the roof fell down, now, will he file an FIR against the man who went to the loo before him or will he sue the builder of the bathroom? Not all the Northeasterners comes under the reserved category, and there are some who though belongs under reserve category does not embrace the benefits out of it, they have their own arguments, some with weaker economic status rightly claims it and some even if they are economically well off claims it because of the opportunism brought about by the confusion of who should be getting reservation. Reservation is still an unsettled matter, till then; let me remind you that not all Northeasterners live by the saving grace of reservation.
6.GIRLS OF NORTH-EAST ARE FASHION DIVA; THEY WEAR JUST TO GIVE HARD ON: Very well, basically, the woman coming from Northeast knows how to dress. They have friends who help them out as to what to wear and how to wear. Then, there are fashion magazine- sources. However, all the Northeast girls are not into fashion, some hardly care what they wear, every woman has her own priority, same implies to Northeastern women too. Choice of dress is a way of releasing a message, it can be either to rebel the structure or to explore and experience something new in the spectrum of identity. However, no woman wears a particular dress to be raped, molested or taunted. If someone gets ten seconds erection after seeing a woman in a sensuous dress then visit a sexologist or a psychologist. Please!
7. YOUTHS OF THIS REGION ARE BIG TIME DRUGGIE: A chemist shop by its other name is known as the drug store, but the other name for Northeastern youths is not drug addicts. There was a wave in this region some decades ago when substance abuse among the youths was going at an alarming rate, yes, we did bade farewell to a good number of youths who had a promising future, had they been alive, they would be in their mid-40s. Things did not stop there, their stories were told, retold and present youths knew for themselves what the future of being an addict is. However, in those years too there were exceptions; there were youths who refrained from such uses, so generalisation was never an option. And there are religious institutions that time and again brings sermon to support the usage, ‘We say no to drugs!’ The region has seen the boon of many talented youths, whether it be singer, musician, designer, writer like me (self-promotion) or any occupation you name it. That keeps us busy.
8. PROSTITUTION IS RAMPANT: Politics, prostitution and religion are the oldest businesses in the world, why business? Money flowing, floating and flying. But, out of the three only prostitution has been looked down with every lasting condemn, the other two is fully legalised, of course, why will they not. We accuse, abuse, ostracise the service provider and the client? Well, no one cares about the client. One interesting phenomena is, we find more non-local girls in our respective towns in this business. Everyone needs a job to live in this materialistic world, but to record the wrong facts is a devious attempt aimed at character assassination, and that is not at all called an argument. A pseudo-intellectual person I know once said, “Prostitution is rampant in your region.” I asked, “How can you say that? You have never been there. Don’t make sweeping statements.” He replied, “I have seen in one of the channels.” After asking the details, I learned to know that he had mistaken it with one of the cities of Asia. When I came to South Delhi, I heard people saying that Priya complex is filled with prostitutes hailing from the northeast, luring by wearing all the provocative dresses. It has been 5 years since I shifted to South Del; I have seen none, not at any hour of the day/night. Maybe my bad luck.
9. HIV/AIDS HUB: Let me indulge you in a scene, a boy from mainland India and a woman from Northeast India is about to make out. Just then the guy goes crazy as he cannot find the pack of condom he bought the other day. The girl says, “Is it so necessary?” The boy replies, “Yes, yes, it is.” Wait a minute, had his following lines been, “Because, dear, I don’t want you to be a victim of unplanned pregnancy.” Then, he is sweet, wise and caring. But no, his following lines are, “Because you are from Northeast and Northeast is famous for HIV/AIDS issues and shits like that.” Since the girl has a positive pride, she replies, “Why don’t you first take a bath as you stink and then got for electrolysis to remove all your bushy hairs, then suck your own 1-inch*** and then f*** yourself whole night long.” Then walks out. For some, it will be a petty couple’s fight, but it carries the message, I don’t have to say anything more, may you interpret it in the matter which will make you a better social animal.
10. CHEAP ENGLISH SPEAKING LABOUR: Globalization brought about BPOs. The call centres which gives a job to unemployed youths has been a hyped topic for discussion. To answer the international calls they want people who can speak English in an accent favourable to the ears of the consumers abroad. The shopping malls and high street boutiques want the salesperson who can speak minimal English to communicate with costumers who are comfortable in English. And of course, the restaurant’s waitress is someone who has an exotic smile to please everyone. The salary is low, I am not the right person to say how much they should be getting because I am not the part of the management, but, as a human being I have the right to shout it out that they have the right to be treated with respect and utmost dignity. No remarks, no insult, hard work should be appreciated and no framing under false cases.
11. HAVEN FOR BLACK MONEY: When someone says coming from The Northeast you are so rich no? Then you better read between the lines. Once a woman in full sarcasm asked, “There are no big industries in this region, then, how come you guys drive the best of imported cars?” I could have said the answer she wanted to hear, but no, instead, I replied, “Car loans. That is what banks are for, right? Corruption is prevalent in every part of India; well it might differ in degree, though. And then there are various illegal underhand businesses, well, that is prevalent in all the part of our country. The problem of ‘black money’ is jeopardy for our economy, really? Yes, that is what we are told, that is what we read. Well, if black money is a problem to the economy of the country, then find a solution, fix it. Nothing will be solved by blaming which state is a haven for it. Writing this point makes me feel as if I am a part of some Mafia movie.
12. STUPID PACKAGES- WE KNOW MARTIAL ARTS, MOMO & CHOWMEIN IS OUR STAPLE FOOD:Bruce Lee, Jet Lee and Jackie Chan are not our uncles or cousins, just because we have mongloid morphology does not mean we fly and kick high up in the sky. Yes, like in other cities of India in our towns too there are martial schools, but that is not for free, meaning they charge fees. It is ridiculously disgusting if you mock us by showing off your petty copied steps after watching pirated kung fu DVDs. Momo and Chowmein are not our sample food, the larger part of Northeasterners take rice, with their ethnic delicacies which include bamboo-shots, dried vegetables, salads with awesome ingredients, mouth-watering chutneys, stews, sauces, fermented soya bean/fish…yummy, yummy.
13. ONLY LOVE MARRIAGES EXIST: Are you kidding? If only love marriage existed in Northeast India then Yash Chopra in his lifetime could have verified it. Sometimes there is heavy opposition from the families so couples adopt the oldest trick i.e., elopement. Good to say, there are no such thing as honour killing, at the max there will be emotional drama and in the worse case the family will disown the couple. Things do not stop there; some people are comfortable with the choice of their parents. Yeah, sometimes parents know where to get the diamond from the coal mine. There is an equal number of arrange marriages as that of love marriages, and surprisingly, the rate of divorce is also equivalent in both the cases.
14. IF I GO TO the NORTH-EAST I WILL BE KIDNAPPED: Seriously, tell me what do you think of yourself? Are you Amitabh Bachchan or Sonia Gandhi, everyone knows you? My Mathematics teachers were all non-Naga, had they been feed with such notion then I could have never known so many non-Naga surnames. If you are so shitty scared then go for Roadies audition, it will kill the chicken out of you. All you need is information about the roads and where to stay, I am sure if you are cool enough then you will have Northeastern friends in your friend list or friend’s friend list, better ask for their help, but don’t go with the fear that you will be kidnapped or else you will be definitely kidnapped by your grandmother’s gooseberry tales.
15. AND THE FATHER OF ALL POINTS-NORTH EAST IS NOT A PART OF INDIA: Why is it so that when I was in elementary school, myself along with rest of my classmates were made to memorise the name of all the states of India along with their capitals. Here again, let me put you in a scene,
‘A Northeastern girl is travelling in a train, precisely, a sleeper class, a kid who is a non-Northeasterner claiming to be a student of standard 7 ask her where she is from? When she replies say Mizoram, the kid is curious to see the colour of her state’s currency.’ For the kid, Mizoram is a country.
Most of the Indians do not even know all the names of the eight Northeastern states of India, I am not saying I want to hear, “I am an Indian and I know all the names of the eight Northeastern states of India.” I want to point out that while structuring the syllabus by the central board of education or even state broad for that matter, there has been negligence. Why Northeast India should be studied only from the anthropological lens, patronising that we are primitive. We have our own rich history, when will it be seen in the pages of school textbooks. When will I be able to say which state of India I am from and do not have to explain geographically where it is.
BY: Ayangti Longkumer