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Why it's not awesome to write a piece on how it's awesome to have a Northeastern friend

Asad Ali | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:36 IST

Got a soft spot for Northeast India? Well, nothing expresses all the feels you have in your heart for the seven sisters as those three magic words: I love momos. Think that's obnoxious? You're right. And if you could detect the racism in that, you should go through this article right now. The listicle (15 Reasons Why It's Awesome To Have A Friend From The Northeast), an old one which has bobbed up on the Internet - much like a stinky shoe in a pond, offers a buffet of racist and ridiculous assumptions about people from the Northeast. It makes sub-zero sense and is exactly the kind of retrograde bullshit that needs to be called out and shut down before it spreads like a cultural VD, infecting the way people perceive the Northeast.

To better deconstruct where the article gets it massively wrong, here are some helpful pointers against some of the points mentioned in the original listicle, from the perspective of someone who's lived in Delhi, and witnessed first-hand, all of the stupidity that's hurled freely at those from the Northeast:

Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The first thing you notice about them: They are the most polite and warmhearted people

(BS sample: "Bakchodi same, but polite from within.")

Let's ignore the meaninglessness of 'polite from within' entirely, for starters.

The choicest cuss words that Delhi hurls with affection and abandon (much like a lot of other cities) might blur our sense of judgement about the (mis?)demeanour of people in general, but - and this is crucial - there are "polite and warmhearted" people from other regions in the country too.


Sharp dressing sense

(BS sample: "Bhai, denim on denim chalta hai kya?")

The nation wants to know how you could generalise on this so heavily when you could direct that generalised sartorial opinion towards South Delhi/ South Bombay/ South Calcutta/ South (any city {see what I did there?})


Their appetite for trying out different food is incomparable

(BS sample: "From paneer to chicken, from pork to beef, from rawas to shrimps... they'll never say no to anything gastronomic...)

The author, in keen attempts at locating NE people anywhere near the vicinity of any restaurant that doesn't offer butter chicken, seems to have overlooked an entire community of foodies - people who'd be happy to eat anything "from paneer to chicken..." etc. And those people aren't necessarily from the NE.


The momentary happiness when you can actually make out what they just spoke over the phone to their mom

(BS sample: You tend to give up, but never fail to pick up their local gaalis.)

Yours truly could not establish a remotely humourous counter to what seems a bizarrely banal statement that was randomly selected for the heck of it. Also, if they're talking on the phone to their mum, how can you "never fail to pick up their local gaalis"? I'm just assuming they aren't dropping expletives during conversations with parents - like the rest of India.


You get a free trip to NE when they get married

(BS sample: You realize that they're not so different, but more alike.)

The racism game is strong with this one. First, all my friends (from NE and otherwise) who've married have never given me any free trip. Not even a ride to Chandigarh (you know who you are). Maybe because I'm on Priority list Z minus, or maybe because, usually, people can simply not afford financing trips for friends to an event that's making them broke as it is. It makes them (and a future me) alike in that respect. "They" aren't different, you are, because you're dumber than a dead dodo for such assumptions.

You appreciate that they're well read and brave enough to stand for what's right.

Are you stuck in a British hangover, riding the high horse of colonial uppitiness, and patronising people indiscriminately? Yes you are, and you should just stop.

You love their Hindi, & wonder how come their English sounds so perfect

Refer to above point.

Talking of English, you learn a lot about 80's rock, metal and every sort of good music genre/bands out there

There's someone who can be an even bigger source for great music. And that someone isn't from the Northeast - it's Google, you moron.


They hate discrimination, but you appreciate the fact they always counter ignorance/rudeness with a calm mind or harmless sarcasm

'They' hate discrimination... much in the same way we love getting discriminated against because that totally makes sense, right? Also, your 'appreciation' again reeks of a patronising tone that you must get rid of. Appreciation in your own head, is fine. Actually, not really, but it's definitely better.

In the end, you realize that the only way to break a mental block is by knowing & embracing a friend from every part of the world

How did this become a larger narrative featuring "a friend from every part of the world"? One suspects even by 'every part of the world,' you basically mean Africa, Muslim countries and the Northeast. There's no other reason why this point suddenly crops up when discussing Northeast INDIA!

The only way you can remove this mental block is by embracing common sense. It's easier to find than you can imagine.

First published: 16 November 2016, 11:15 IST
Asad Ali @asadali1989

Asad Ali is another cattle class journalist trying to cover Current affairs and Culture when he isn't busy not saving the world.