Within the dichotomy of growing up in metro cities and of belonging to places far removed from them, exists the colourful void that is your identity. But don’t they say that too many cooks spoil the broth?
All of my life I have struggled with being Haryanvi. Born and brought up in Gurgaon (we will never call it Gurugram), I have seen both sides of the story–the gaon and the galiyaan of Haryana and the elitist metropolitans that exist on the fringes of it. I have always existed in the middle of these two worlds: too elite for the Haryanvi kids but too “rowdy” for the city ones, something which always left me struggling with my identity.
Stepping outside Haryana and moving away from its people, you come across a different (if you ask me, distorted) image of Haryana–its people are rude, its culture is not modern, its the land of Fortuners and doodh, dahi, aur ghee–and even though there are things that might be true, but the demarcation of the culture of a whole state as “barbaric”, for the lack of a better word, is outrageous.
Living in Delhi NCR makes you come face-to-face with a very mutated version of the Haryanvi culture. For most, it becomes a culture that is the voice of political parties and a platform for all your gaalis. It becomes an identity of the “uneducated”. “Haryana walon ke toh munh hi nhi lgna chahiye (You shouldn’t get involved with people from Haryana)” is one version of the many taunts and judgments that have come to be accepted by people over time. Schools ban you from using the language because more than being associated with a culture, it has come to be associated with a select few, who have gone on to create a specific image—one that we are all okay turning a blind eye to—and this is the image that gets carried home. “I usually try staying away from people who say that they are from Haryana. It might be prejudice but I wouldn’t want to take that risk,” said a third-year student, in conversation with DU Beat.
With a rise in an elitist crowd and an even more elitist NCR culture, Haryana has come to be that one state everyone conveniently forgets. Now, when asked, even Gurgaon is seen as being a part of NCR before it’s a part of Haryana.
But on the flip side, exists another reality, completely opposite. Adoption of the Haryanvi culture, particularly the Haryanvi language and the distinct, heavy accent that comes with it, has become a commonplace phenomenon in the Delhi NCR circuit. When you look around, you see a certain accent being used by the Delhi kids. You see that same accent find its way into the NCR, from Noida to Faridabad. From schools to colleges to drivers on the road, you find the echoes of Haryana, if not its whole culture.
This accent might be very Haryanvi, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those who use it are. Most people speaking the language or imitating the accent are imposters, romanticising the existence of a culture that is shunned by too many. This might be out of love for the culture but it ends up doing more harm than good, simply because it usually turns out to be nothing more than the appropriation of an image of Haryana and its people that is more about chaud and tora. Most people in this crowd end up using Haryana for reasons of the wrong more than of the right, trying to capitalise on this image that the other half has created of Haryana in their heads, a villain of their own making.
Stuck between these two opposing sides—in a tug-of-war of language, culture, state, and identity—sits the real Haryana. No culture is without faults of its own, but the least it can ask of people is to be true to themselves. The doodh, dahi, aur ghee are the base pillars of Haryana in its truest form, but then so are its people. A certain rise of voice here and a different accent there don’t make the culture of Haryana a monster to be feared or a beast to be tamed. To the outsider, each culture may be a specimen, and words of love can be of hatred, but it’s only Haryana that knows the love it hides behind its Bawlibooch and Bawli Tared.
Feature Image: The Tribune