Posts tagged ‘India’

About Madrasi – Oops, I mean – Tamil Men

Mehmood in Padosan 1968

To understand the dark side of stereotyping one need not look much beyond India. Let’s start with some basics about Tamizh, or ‘Tamil’ men. A dark rounded man with three white stripes on his forehead and a badly matched turban is NOT Tamizh. And gasp!!! Definitely NOT  “South Indian”. If the intention is to represent Iyer men alone, this is still a failed attempt. Really? Yes, ‘coz Iyers hardly ever (I don’t say never – only hardly ever) wear turbans.

And here’s the surprise. Iyer men form a mere fraction of the group we may now call “South Indian Men”. Such a representation is an affront to the vast majority of Tamizh, and other South Indian men – here I remind you that Hindus apart, that there is a large Christian and Muslim population living in the southern states. Even if we are considering the “Hindu” populace among South Indian men – Iyers are by far a minority.

And now, turning to the all-important issue of the turban – men from very few communities in South India wear turbans on a daily basis. It is often a sign of some honor accorded to them or worn by heads of large families, village leaders etc. It is considered an insult to wear a headgear when a senior person is present. Yes.

As far as “rounded man” goes I can only say obesity is not as much a problem in South India despite the regular & staple consumption of rice. I shall be back with some researched data about this assumption of mine

Till then let me leave you with a thought – Tamizh (not South Indian) men are called “Singham” (Lion). If you can get out of the juvenile image of the very offensive movie I know you are attempting to recall right now, let me direct your attention to the fact that here are no obese lions.

Tamizh men, and women for that matter, do not use “Aiyoo” all that often.

One last thought – Clubbing all states south of Odisha as ‘Madrasis’ is just as wise and bright as calling Punjabis, Rajasthanis,& Gujaratis the same. As far back as I remember, the Northeastern States have been battling a ‘Chinki’ bias and taking pride in their individuality. Maharashra, Gujarat, and Goa are distinct and each beautiful in its own way. J & K is not Himachal, Haryana is not Uttar Pradesh. All South Indian states are NOT Madrasi. I am almost as proud of being Tamizh as I am of being Indian. Almost.

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