I’m seventeen and in my lifetime, I have had many people ask me what my nationality is. I am Indian. I grew up in India but many people think I am not Indian. I remember when I was seven and my classmate was sure that I was Chinese because he heard me speak to my parents outside the school gate. And even now, I am taken by surprise because many other Indians do not really know much about my part of the country. I don’t even expect people from other nations to know. I have had so many people ask me, “How can you be Indian? You don’t look Indian.”
For many people, there is a certain picture they have of India. Maybe it’s dirty roads with hectic traffic and runaway cows. It could also be abject poverty, illiteracy and brokenness.It could also a picture of a beautiful and rich culture. It could also be one of swarming crowds of a billion people! But to many it’s also what they see on Bollywood, beautiful actors dancing here and there, falling in and out of love. People would be surprised at how popular it is in the middle east. (At least, that’s what I hear.)
And the truth is, India is all that, but it is also more. India also has many educated, rich and high-flying people who live in areas so posh, I can hardly believe it’s India. It’s got industrial areas and metropolitan cities. It’s also got thousands of villages where you can hardly believe it’s the 21st century.
India has mountains, deserts, rivers, lakes, plateaus and possibly every kind of landform. It has over two thousand different ethnic groups with their own languages and most of them don’t look the same. I’m from one of the smaller ones. I’m Khasi and I am originally from Shillong, Meghalaya in North-East India. So I’ve listed five interesting things about where I come from and who we are.
1. Our people are said to have originally migrated from South-East Asia some thousand years ago. Probably, Cambodia or Vietnam. The Khmer language of Cambodia and our Khasi language actually has a few similarities here and there.
2. Our state has the wettest place on earth with annual rainfall of 11,873 millimetres. Yeah, we’ve got a whole lot of rain. And it’s called Mawsynram.
3. We’re one of the only matrilineal societies out there. Not matriarchal. There is a difference. Simply put, it means a person’s descent or ancestry is traced back to his/her mother and her maternal ancestors.
4. Shillong, the city I am from is one of India’s creative hubs with many skilled writers, musicians, songwriters, performers, poets and artists. We have had international bands come and play amazing live music. Our own bands are really great too. We’ve got award-winning poets and writers. (It’s amazing. I’m a poet too, you know 😛 ) And I can’t not mention the literary festivals, music festivals, wine festivals, beer festivals, strawberry displays, bonsai displays and the autumn festivals.
5. Our state, Meghalaya also boasts of the cleanest village in all of Asia. Mawlynnong. I’ve been there. I love it. And you will just be in awe of how much the local people love and respect the environment. It’s a breathtaking place. It even has one of the world’s only living root bridges.
There are many more things about my people and where we come from but I can’t mention them all. But my point with this whole blog post was to bring to light the beauty of the diversity in our country. We’ve got our highs and our lows. But in the end, we’re one nation. We’re one country. We are Indian. There are many Indias in one motherland, in one India.
P.S. – Some of the pictures are my own while some are also taken off the internet. If you see a picture that is yours and you would like it to be removed, please let me know. 🙂