Vantage point

Friday, November 29, 2002

When you are at home, you take the surroundings for granted. I don't mean you parents friends, etc, but the more general surroundings. The language spoken around you, the slang, the specific references of history, the likes and dislikes, the festivals which hold special importance, norm etc etc. In Pune (or Maharashtra in general) things are so much different than in U.P. The most glaring difference when you get out of the Railway Station is the difference in the number of females on the street, especially on the two wheelers. In Lucknow, this species is very very rare, not surprising the dubious record men here have of respecting women.

The first few days these differences strike you even more. Everyone is speaking in hindi/urdu (well, whaddya expect?), eats different, and in general their way of behaviour is different. It is not "home". There are some jokes which if you make here seem totally irrelevant. For instance, you know how there is an idiom, "He met his Waterloo there" in English? It is named after the famous battle. In Maharashtra we talk about the battle of Panipat (near Delhi) in a similar way because that was the bloodiest and most significant battle in Maratha History according to most people. So if I say "It as a total Panipat for me", back home, even when i say it in English, it conveys the meaning. However i said something like that in Lucknow and was naturally met with raised eyebrows. Nobody got what Panipat had to do with anything, least of all a guy who actually came from near Panipat. he later came to me and asked what I meant when I referrred to his beloved Panipat.

However, as you adjust, these differences seem to subside to the back of your mind. They are brought to the fore only on rare occasions like when you make a trip back home.

Today was another occasion when i was reminded of the general culture back home. One of my friends got a Video CD of Pu La Deshpande's monologues, 'Sakharam Gathe' and 'Mee va Majha Shatrupaksha'. Pu La is the Wodehouse of Marathi literature and though I have read these two works and even heard the audio tapes, the viedo was an entirely new experience. The facial expressions and gestures that Pu La made, priceless.

So right now, am watching the two videos, guffawing, and feeling very happy at having gotten this rare whiff of Maharashtrian culture.