The North South Divide in India: Language, Culture, Prejudice?

June 25, 2008

BG's little experience in a mall in Delhi got me thinking. Prejudice shows its ugly face everywhere. One of the most often discussed topic in our country is that divide between the so called South Indians and the so called North Indians. It is such an interesting topic that all those funny comments to articles in Rediff lead there no matter what the issue was originally to start with.

The nucleus of the prejudice, quite obviously lies in the language barrier. The fact that one community cannot understand the other's language leads to baseless assumptions, ridicule and fantasies. The oldest example I could remember was Mehmood making fun of the south Indian accent, way of life in Padosan. All in good humor.

So, what's this prejudice? Having lived in both the societies and been in the receiving end of both the forms of partisanship, I believe I understand them both quite well.

The Hindi speaking community looks at South Indians as backward, narrow minded and a disconnected lot of people that at times suggests an alienating behavior in ones own country. Blame it on the language. All said and done, it is indeed a fact that Tamil Nadu at least, where I come from, has been disconnected from rest of India. But it by no means gives an excuse to cultivate such pedestrian opinions about a community that is very much Indian.

As soon as you land in a city beyond the four southern states, you are branded a "Madrasi" in your school, you are ridiculed for the way you pronounce thoda. You may argue it is childish and probably a thing for kids, but everything, like charity, begins at home. If a matured twenty something has the audacity to ask a decently dressed woman, "Why are you dressed like that, you look like someone from South India", it speaks volumes about what that woman has seen and understood of India as a whole.

The people down south look at Northies as a community that places importance on show, splendor, outlook and all other things considered trivial down under. The people from Bombay and north of it are more exposed to fashion, lavish spending, highly westernized influences in daily life and an undying urge to stand out in the society. The people down south consider themselves to be leap years ahead when it comes to the topic of gray matter and achievements in education and personal lives. They speak better English, are widespread in the fields of engineering and entrepreneurship and are well read individuals. These are some of the factors where south Indians seem to think they are one up compared to the north.

The issue comes down to a debate of priorities and perspectives. It really depends on an individual's choices and emphasis on what is important to his/her life.

It may be a thing of the past but today when people move around, live in other states and countries, together with different communities of India, they realize how wrong they were. It still pains to hear about men and women like the one BG met.

They not only need to open their minds, but also take a look at themselves. Maybe wearing Manish Malhotra and sitting inside Cafe Mocha for hours is more important to her than wearing Naidu Hall and flipping through J.K. Rowling and Thomas L. Friedman inside Landmark. The perspectives differ with individuals and not with communities. At least not anymore.

Adithya is a graduate student of Computer Science in the United States. He did his Bachelor of Engineering in Madras, India and most of his schooling in Bombay, India. Adithya digs books, sports, movies and computers. In that order. He blogs, just about on everything, at http://gradwolf.wordpress.com
eXTReMe Tracker
Keep reading for comments on this article and add some feedback of your own!

Comments! Feedback! Speak and be heard!

Comment on this article or leave feedback for the author

Deepti Lamba
June 25, 2008
01:54 AM

Adithya, I read bg's post - must say the babe she met was an ignorant girl who has no idea what America is all about. Most people who visit the Malls in US wear regular clothes, its the teenagers who tend to dress up. Otherwise people dress up for dates, parties etc. Seems that particular Delhi-ite continues to suffer from the Bold&Beautiful syndrome and good luck to her and her way of living- it really is of little consequence at the end of the day.

Another thing- I may be an odd ball but I tend to stay away from women who scrutinize others clothes.

Prejudices are ample in our country and unfortunately many of us have been victims of all kinds of cultural biases and neurosis within our own communities and outside as well.

Deepa Krishnan
June 25, 2008
04:41 AM

It is not for nothing that South Indians have the reputation for being badly dressed. In eight years of living in Chennai, I saw very few women who made me feel like saying "wow". I don't mean fashionistas dressed in Western clothes hanging out in malls - I'm just referring to your average woman in a saree. How can you wear such a beautiful garment so badly? I'd go to my daughter's school to pick her up; and around me, there would be a gaggle of such badly dressed women that I'd wonder how they even stepped out of the house. It takes neither money nor effort to wear beautiful Kanchi and Chettinad cottons. It takes taste, and that, I'm sorry to say, the women of my daughter's school sadly lacked. It's worth writing a thesis on this.

Ayan Roy
June 25, 2008
06:54 AM

Cultural ignorance and illiteracy is dangerous, as it leads to bias, generalizations and prejudice. It's important for people to be aware of different cultures, and be aware of the different cultural "roots". Personally if I find someone's customs a bit funny and strange, I make it a point to find out the history and the logic behind those customs.

The way we pronounce certain words, for example, depends upon the shape, thickness and dexterity of the tongue and the shape of the mouth of a person. Depending upon the geographical characteristics and the diet, different peoples' mouths and tongues evolve differently over a period of generations in sync. with the environment. Hence, pronunciation of words varies from region to region. The same can be said for food, dress and other customs.

Also, I believe that if you show respect to a person, generally you get respect back too. If you don't it's best to ignore that person.

As for dressing-up and fashion, I really don't give a damn..Dressing up to impress others is one of my least priorities. I can wear the same dress-set again and again, day after day if I feel comfortable. It just needs to be cleaned and ironed well, and without visible holes or broken buttons.
I dress so that I feel comfortable w.r.t. the temperature and humidity of a place, and the inner shape and texture of the dress; although I keep dress codes in mind.

Love and peace to all,

June 25, 2008
11:31 AM

I'm sorry but I also feel that the South Indian states tend to isolate themselves from the rest of the country.
1)First of all they have this hatred of Hindi. I'm not generalizing but speaking about the majority/fanatists. It's true that Hindi is NOT the national language ( a misconception of north Indians). But,hold on, Hindi still has a position a notch above the other NATIONAL languages like Kannada,Tamil etc. because Hindi is the "OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE UNION OF INDIA".
Therefore we have this 3 language policy as per the constitution of Indian which says to follow English,Hindi and the language of that particular state which is why all schools are supposed to teach English, Hindi and the state language.
2> In a country like India with so many states and languages it's only just that the language followed in the maximum number of states be given a special position.
3> The fanatical people of south India must note that even many north Indian states have their own languages like Punjabi,rajasthani,haryanvi,Kashmiri,Bhojpuri etc. but they have embraced Hindi as the lingua franca.
4> In addition to Hindi, the constitution has asked us to follow English also as a lingua franca.
5> Now, the problem happens when someone from outside lands up in Bangalore. Despite knowing 3 languages - English, Hindi and his mother tongue, he is not able to survive there. Because a lot of people here like Auto-drivers,Bus conductors,shopkeepers,waiters etc know only 1 language -Kannada.
6> In addition to that, he has to put with harsh comments like "If you have come to Bangalore to earn your bread & butter you must learn the langauge of our place". The poor guy is left wondering how many languages he should learn to survive in his own country. Tomorrow he may be transferred to Chennai and he will be asked to learn Tamil.
7>Let's face it. Once you are grown up and your mind is full of a zillion things it's very difficult to learn a new langauge. When your are a small kid your mind has a lot of space to accumulate new things.
8> You can learn bits of the new langauge but to be able to understand and converse it properly is a tough deal.

June 25, 2008
09:46 PM

Deepti: Prejudices are ample, yes, but when it borders on ignorance, it is really ugly.

Deepa: If this was a decade ago, I would have quite agreed with every word of yours. Back then, I was away from Chennai and my thoughts were same. Right now, I see things have changed drastically and I wish the ignorance of people up north disappears

Ayan: That was nicely explained.

Robin: Someone I know read your commented and left a reply in my blog. I cannot be that articulate so I am quoting that comment here- "yea yea we are lowly people coz we can't speak hindi!

A commentor on desicritics talks about that. Hindi is like a root fro most north indian languages, bhojpuri, haryanvi sound quite similar to Hindi. I sometimes watch bhojpuri films(don't ask why) and I can follow. So for them hindi is very similar to their mother tongue and easy to switch back.

South indian langs are very diff from hindi and so it takes a concious effect to learn it. But then our govts prefer to neglect it for their votebank politics. This way you keep out other parties from entering your territory.

But then you have to give it, in general southies don't like dressing up. Reasons for which I cant conjure but there is a 'kuch bhi chalta hain' attitude. I dont mean any harm to your friend nor do I support the skimpyly dressed mall female.

Fact is, we are not so wardrobe concious but lay a lot of emphasis on education. Folks above the vindhyas tend to lead a more flamboyant life and like dressing up, etc.

Bottom line: majority of southies are docs,CA,s/w etc while most northies have motels, gas stations, subways/dunkin and employ us for aaaf-campus jaaab!"

Garam Beni
June 25, 2008
11:28 PM

Northies VS Southies!! Yum.
Me Bong, me sit on fence and watch the fun ;)

June 26, 2008
12:04 AM

Bottom line: majority of southies are docs,CA,s/w etc while most northies have motels, gas stations, subways/dunkin and employ us for aaaf-campus jaaab!"

You must be talking about America. There are many north Indians who have done their MBA, CA, they are lawyers, engineers, doctors, they head companies etc

Quite a few generalizations have been made on this post, in fact that person's whose blog has been linked to suffers from her share of insecurities and thinks all Northies are against Southies as if the South Indians don't have contempt for North Indians. There are no victims here.

One north Indian's western lifestyle is not a commentary on all North Indian women. My Coorgi and Kannadiga friends are very hip and fashion conscious and I don't go around saying all south Indians are party animals.

Bangalore is a bustling open city whereas Chennai is still stuck in insular living and definitely not a place North Indians would find a welcoming home. There are marked differences between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

June 26, 2008
12:21 AM

I think there are far too many generalisations in this post. You cannot combine Panjabis and UPiites into one group as you cannot combine Mallus with the rest of South India.
Many here have commented about people being badly dressed in the south. Some have commented about Chennai being a backward city and so on. Some have commented about North Indians not being educated enough and the list goes on. Apart from being prejudices, these are factually incorrect. We Indians in general are poorly dressed. The physical attributes overplay or underplay the clothes we wear. Chennai 'was' a backward city. A close North Indian colleague of mine refuses to work in Mumbai and Delhi. North Indians are not educated is easily the biggest joke on the planet. Visit any large Indian company in Bangalore and Hyderabad and tell me how many south Indians you find in the top management,,,10%?

The reality is that the best place to be in India is the East . We live in beautiful locations, are well dressed, intelligent, educated, brilliant and clearly God Gift's to mankind ;)

Deepa Krishnan
June 26, 2008
12:39 AM

he he he Chandra.

June 26, 2008
06:28 AM

Being a south Indian myself, I think there is some truth to these stereotypes. One thing I have observed is that North Indians are generous in treating guests, while south Indians are sparing, no matter how rich they are. Tam Brams are really bad in this regard. Also south Indians don't seem to have common manners like not opening the mouth while chewing food, compared to North Indians. And noisily slurping food seems to be ok in the south compared to the north.

June 26, 2008
08:44 AM

I think we can make these generalizations all day long. I can talk about my northie VP who pissed on the wall of the company unisex loo, or I can talk about closed minded southie morons who kept assuming I was christian or I can cite any number of different examples to fit either side.

fact is that on both sides you have both kinds. there are ignorant slobs in both north and south, and gorgeous polished well-educated, mannered folk both places too.

I think there ARE many cultural differences, but I am not sure you've hit on any legitimate ones here.

I will say one thing, Northies FOR SURE have much better weddings. (still crying about the lack of alcohol, meat or dancing at my wedding)

June 26, 2008
09:04 AM

SS - "I will say one thing, Northies FOR SURE have much better weddings. (still crying about the lack of alcohol, meat or dancing at my wedding)"

that's very true. At it isn't restricted to weddings, but most religious ceremonies.

I hate the south Indian practice of making guests sit and eat on the floor. Call it tradition or whatever, I find it rather gross and uncivilized.

And compared to north India, where the men who serve the food are decently dressed, the guys in south are sweaty, bare chested, and sometimes fold up their veshti/mundu way too high.

I remember one particular time where the ba**s of one server were clearly visible to everyone in the room, even the ladies. Everyone was too embarassed to even admit they saw them.

June 26, 2008
09:39 AM


""I remember one particular time where the ba**s of one server were clearly visible to everyone in the room, even the ladies. Everyone was too embarassed to even admit they saw them."


June 26, 2008
09:40 AM

ledz.. yeah i have to agree. the brahmin tradition of shirtless food servers is a bit much for me to handle. totally out of control. I do not mind sitting on the floor, but yeah, put on a shirt and some chaddi PLEASE!

dude, if I saw someone's dangly bits when I was getting served my banana-leaf lunch, I would puke in my rasam rice.

I told the servers at my wedding that banyans/panche were the least they could get away with. no naked people serving the food. my relatives would have gone mental!!!

now let's talk about how difficult it is to sit thru a homa without choking to death in already stiflingly hot conditions. and really, how can breathing all that smoke be good for a baby?

June 26, 2008
09:49 AM

So, there goes the debate again :)

There is a lot of truth to what you people say, but more often than not, it is a "grass is greener on the other side" phenomena.

June 26, 2008
10:23 AM

Ledz 12

Sitting on floors and shirtless.....Man, which year are you talking about? Which class of society are you talking about? which state are you talking about?


June 26, 2008
10:36 AM

uh Chandra, apparently you've not been anywhere in a middle-class neighborhood in Karnataka in the past month.

this is common as the day is long.

stop being difficult because you must know this is not some isolated phenomenon.

June 26, 2008
10:40 AM

Adithya said

"Bottom line: majority of southies are docs,CA,s/w etc while most northies have motels, gas stations, subways/dunkin and employ us for aaaf-campus jaaab!"

Adithya, I am sorry but your post and this statement suffers from the same myopia that you are crying foul against. Just like everyone south of Vindhyas cannot be called 'Madrasis' and clubbed together, everyone North of the Vindhyas don't own motels and dunkin donuts!

Firstly, the Motels and Dunkin Donuts kind of occupations are all in the US and are hardly a good sample space to analyze regional proclivities. Even if we do take your limited sample space of the US, let me tell you that a large number of these motels and dunkin donuts are run by Gujjus who are neither Northies not Southies but are from the West! (and most of them are too busy working hard and earning money to be bothered about analysing and type-casting people :))

And even in the North, while one can concede to a degree that the Punjabi community have a flair for entrepreneurship, North is not just Punjab. There are the BIMARU states, where I see a strong inclination for the civil services(esp. UP and Bihar), there is Jammu and Kashmir, there is Haryana. And even there you cannot generalize.

This whole thing is really silly. I really suggest you first rid yourself of your myopia before you venture to clear the cobwebs in other people's minds.

Overall my opinion on this whole stereotyping is this.. as long as you are having fun, pulling legs or simply observing it is OK. Once you close your mind towards a particular community vis--vis a particular trait, or you develop insecurities and complexes that's when things start going wrong. And in today's India that really should be a non-issue.

June 26, 2008
11:19 AM


I am not being difficult i want to point out to the fact that
a. all south indians are not the same,
b. all castes/classes in a south indian state are not similar
c. that such events (as mentioned by ledz) are very rare today as opposed to 25 years ago...

Overall I would agree with Ritu above. This mass generalisation called North vs South is totally obselete. There are many south Indians who hate moving out of Mumbai and Delhi as there are of north Indians hating to move out of Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Really, what I hate about this article is it assumes East and West Indians donot exist.

June 26, 2008
11:52 AM

Ok, I missed few of the comments in between the last time around.
I can reply with some snubbing words to few of the comments above but I refrain. All the views of Bangalore being better than Madras, less Southies in top tier of companies, sitting on floor and eating(I've never seen it anywhere except in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun!), not treating guests can be thrown out of the window. But let's not make Desicritics look like Rediff. And I don't want to be branded as another person suffering from the same prejudices, which unfortnately, I already have.

Ritu: That was a comment I got in my blog and I thought it fitting to quote in reply to a comment in similar vain. I agree it was a bad idea. I do think the people up north are more into big business establishments of their own compared to south where people stick to white collar full time jobs earning a monthly salary. Probably, mentioning subway/dunkin donuts took away the bigger picture from that comment. I would also think anything above the four southern states can be called North. No? It looks silly to me, otherwise. For the record I am from Madras and I do love Bombay a tad bit more than I love Madras.But a lot of other reasons go into that. Another thing, personally, I have had more instances of my south Indian friends complaining about the ridicule in northern states than from my north Indian friends settled in Madras complaining of any. It doesn't say anything except maybe I have more south Indian friends than North Indian friends.
I guess you never got the point of the post. It just enlisted the prejudices that exist on both the sides. The idea was never to be judgmental.

Seriously, Chandra's reply:

"Man, which year are you talking about? Which class of society are you talking about? which state are you talking about?"

...comes across as a sensible reply to many of the comments.

Like one of my friends said, what matters is how accepting one is, and how much prepared one is to learn from others than to be the frog in the well and snob at others. Peace.

Deepti Lamba
June 26, 2008
12:06 PM

Reply to comment #12

now I finally know what we have in common with the Scots;)

June 26, 2008
12:06 PM

chandra... eating on the floor and being served by shirtless brahmins is a daily occurrence for many kannadigas and tamils and just because chandra doesn't know about it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. so yes, mallus/andhrites are different and I can see why they get steamed when they get lumped in with the rest. but then again the kannadigas and tamilians think the other cannot make a proper sambhar, so go figure.

although I agree that the east and west were ignored here... but back to my original comment that any generalization can be applied to any group. it's useless.

June 26, 2008
12:21 PM

Chandra, unless people book a hall which has dining tables and benches, any religious function that takes place in most south Indian homes involves everyone sitting and eating on the floor. This is common practice and I don't know why there is so much disbelief here.

Arranging for dining tables and chairs/benches for so many people is expensive and also may logistically not work out in many cases. Plus banana leaves being floppy, people cannot carry them around like in standing buffets.

I have two cousins in Bangalore and both held traditional house warming parties about a year to 18 months back. The richer one went with a south Indian style lunch and that's where the incident mentioned in my earlier post happened. The not-so-well off one had the better sense to have the lunch catered in the north Indian fashion (although the ceremony itself was south Indian). It was served on paper plates which people carried around and the social interaction during that time was way better.

Bottom line: north Indian lunch- social and enjoyable. South Indian lunch - impersonal, unergonomic, and a hideous display of the male anatomy.

June 26, 2008
12:27 PM

ledz.... um, it's VERY person... esp when you get to see someone's parts! LOL

June 26, 2008
12:55 PM

yeah ss! how could Led call it impersonal after that flash of intimacy?

June 26, 2008
02:07 PM

#24, lol...WAY too personal!

Chandra - I am a north Indian - from the much maligned Bimaru belt - and yes a lot of traditional events often involves eating on the floor. Generally off "pattals" - made of bargad leaves - rather than banana leaves. And for these events - weddings, deaths etc - it is the men OF the family who are supposed to serve food to everyone. And they wear dhoti/kurtas which - I must say - does cover a bit more than the clothing preferred in the South.

Its actually quite funny as the whole table and chairs sort of catering is very much an "aspirational" idea for a lot of families from small towns and villages. At a recent wedding, the very posh Delhi/NYC/London family of the groom organised a proper "traditional" meal - with long rows of floor seating, and the men wore proper safas, dhotis etc, and walked through the guests ladling out food from silver buckets.

The reactions of the guests were hilarious: the phirangis and urbanites LOVED it. The rellies from villages were shocked. :-)

Personally, I think pattals, kulhads (and banana leaves down south) are far better for the environment than styrofoam, paper plates etc.

June 26, 2008
11:34 PM

cticism that tam brams dont welcome guests properly is totally baseless, stupid and author is ignorant.i ve known ppl visiting tam brams just for their coffee. and whats wrong wiht eating on the floor and banana leaf? not all can afford a dining table and i wld anyday prefer a banana leaf to eat than a plate that cld be used by some one else

June 27, 2008
01:31 AM

"i ve known ppl visiting tam brams just for their coffee."

most likely because it is probably all they can expect from them.

I have been invited to homes of middle class Tambrams and also middle class Marwaris. There is no comparison between the two. I would any day pick a north Indian household or function to attend.

June 27, 2008
01:53 AM

I guess most North Indians are too diplomatic and polite to openly disparage south Indian customs. But as a Tam Bram myself, I guess I have the right to express self-criticism here :)

One thing about N Indians in general is they take extra efforts in whatever they do as far as traditions are concerned, while the south Indian mentality is to cut corners and do it in the easiest (and boring) way as possible.

Take the example of applying mehndi to the hands during functions. The typical Tam bram way of doing it would be to apply a big round blob in the middle of the palm of hands, and that would be it. It is a far cry from the intricate art work done by north Indians. I grew up only being used to the Tam Bram way, and once I saw the N Indian way, I wanted to say "Wow!" and was embarrassed to witness the Tam bram style after that.

Also this kind of over-simplifying things is found in other aspects too, like attire, for instance. Both the saree and the veshti are just pieces of cloth with essentially no tailoring. Contrast this with ghagra choli or even salwar kameezes. N Indian women plan their weddings in much greater detail than traditional south Indian women. And the weddings are much more fun too.

These are perhaps some of the reasons why Tam Bram culture has never really moved beyond the cliches of Kancheepuram sarees, thayir saadam (curd rice), and filter coffee.

Aditi Nadkarni
June 27, 2008
02:28 AM

Ledzius You may have gone way overboard with you "self-criticism".

The south indian cuisine extends way beyond curd rice and filter coffee. The saris are may I say absolutely stunning. I would still go to Bombay and buy a silk saris only at Nalli's. I have witnessed some very nice S.Indian weddings which leads me to believe that economic status may be an important determinant. And so is personal taste really.

In the US I was actually disappointed by the N.Indian style temples (essentially a big hall with all sorts of gods in no particular order and one panditji) whereas South Indian temples wowed me. And I'm not just saying this in retaliation to your comment....I'm not Tamil and have no need to defend South indians. But I would never say that North Indians cut corners. That would be passing a premature judgment.

Citing lack of mehendi and embroidered lehengas at tamil weddings to demonstrate that tamilians cut corners is like saying Muslims cut corners at their weddings by not incorporating a Mangalsutra. Mehendi is an integral part of the North Indian wedding...its not just a thing they do, like make-up and saris. They have a whole "henna, haldi, sangeet" function. bengalis also use that round alta mark on the palm that you mention instead of mehendi but they also do the beautiful topor and the decorations on the face around the forehead and eyebrows.

When it comes to functions, cultural events and weddings all communities have their highs and their lows. They all have their quirks and some criticism-worthy, that I agree with. But it is in poor taste ad very shallow actually to comment on how a community chooses to celebrate their weddings. If the focus is not on the clothes and mehendi it doesn't automatically mean that its a shitty wedding where corners have been cut.

June 27, 2008
03:31 AM


I think people assume that their personal experiences reflect population behaviour. I am sorry but that is statistically incorrect. It may have been your observation (s) which is different from this being a major trend.


I will not agree with your opinion about brahmins eating on the floors and shirtless attendants in KK and TN. I have been to numerous events and never came across any such wedding. I am not disputing your experience but I have not encountered this myself. However, this was not the case 15 years ago when this was fairly normal.

Ledz 23

I am not saying that eating on the floor does not happen. In case of deaths, it is usually on the floor. My argument is eating on the floor and naked men is fairly uncommon as compared to the past. Affluent communities are less likely to have sit-ins and naked men as opposed to less affluent communities. I need to point out that I am not referring to rural KK and TN here.

In Urban areas, many weddings happen either at hotels or kalyan mandaps (marriage halls).

Then there is the whole issue of feeding outsiders versus feeding family members. You are likely to see more family members eating on the floor than during the main receptions.

Ledz, I would request you to talk in terms of Tam Brams and not in terms of 'South Indians'. There is nothing called a south indian. There is an Indian and then there is a mallu or a tambram or a kamma etc etc

North Indian lunches are fun but none can beat Bong wedding food. I have been to many North Indian weddings and man Bong weddings and I am sorry, I will choose a Bong wedding lunch/dinner anyday.


I am not an expert on the BIMARU belt, so cannot say. My own sense is that eating on the floor is a diminishing trend and naked men is almost extinct (unless if it is a party attended by Ledz and SS :-))


Middle class marwaris? Easily the most boring families to visit for a party. like i said again, for good food, please visit Bongs.


"One thing about N Indians in general is they take extra efforts in whatever they do as far as traditions are concerned, while the south Indian mentality is to cut corners and do it in the easiest (and boring) way as possible"

I went to a UP ka shaadi a couple of years ago and they squeezed the 2 hour wedding process into exactly 45 minutes.

Also, what is your definition of North Indian? Sikh Punjabis? Hindu Punjabi immigrants from pakistan? Jats? Rajasthanis or whatever we can call them? Western Upiites? etc etc etc...who is your North Indian benchmark?


June 27, 2008
06:55 AM

chandra, it's funny you say "I think people assume that their personal experiences reflect population behaviour."

You are commenting on something that is obviously NOT your culture then trying to say it does not exist. makes no sense. go to basaveshwarnagar in bangalore and find me a house where these kinds of functions do not happen. that whole community still lives by these behaviors.

Deepa Krishnan
June 27, 2008
09:32 AM

Ledz, I just thought I should say that you've managed to thoroughly disappoint me with your set of comments on this piece.

June 27, 2008
09:39 AM

Ledzius, I am sorry to say but you are way too influenced by the north and way too ignorant of the south.

June 27, 2008
10:29 AM

#31 Chandra - never been to a Bengali wedding, so I don't know. Maybe they are the most happening ones in India. But aren't Sikh weddings also supposed to be a lot of fun?

Also, I have to admit I have freely switched South Indian with Tambrams. In fact, other south Indians might even feel insulted being lumped with Tambrams as you say. Even within TN, there are other communities which are far more generous when it comes to festivities. And also have better manners, btw.

June 27, 2008
10:40 AM

Deepa, Aditya,

Sure, you have the right to feel the way you feel. But you are welcome to refute the points I have made, just like Chandra has done. I welcome that.

June 27, 2008
10:53 AM

ledz.. yeah I forgot to say that I also disagree with your characterization of Tambrams... Aditi explained perfectly....

June 27, 2008
10:58 AM

also, chandra dear... go march your ass to the bangalore vidyapeeta and tell them that the banana leaf lunch served ont he floor is extinct, esp when served by shirtless brahmins... they do it all day every day... maybe they did not get your memo to cease and desist....

June 27, 2008
12:35 PM

Chandra, seating on the floor for meals may be a "diminishing" trend for you but anecdotal evidence suggests that even in urban areas people continue the practice.

Also if we are going to start talking statistics, just what is YOUR data except your own personal experience?

Even if you took the number of people who own dining tables in homes it would not guarantee that the floor seating is extinct for religious and social occasions. Its a case in my own home - simply because there are too many people to fit around a dinner table when you put together a big puja. So you bundle out the dining table and put mats and mattresses as seating.

Same goes for weddings, sagais, sangeets or grihapraveshes...people tend to use the seating for meals that is most convenient (and sometimes reflective of their social aspirations). But there is no evidence - statistically speaking - that floor seating is an extinct or indeed limited practice.

You may well decide that in YOUR experience people do not eat on the floor, but - by the same token - having been to a fair number of religious/cultural stuff on various ends of the country, I would assert that the practice is quite common.

Garam Beni
June 27, 2008
05:15 PM

Guys I dunno but judging a community on the basis of how much fun you have in its weddings seems a little strange to me. Sure you may not like some of these traditions but that doesn't mean the tradition itself is 'bad'. Floor seating? Langars in gurudwaras have you squatting too, right? You may not like it, whoever you are, (neither do I, frankly. my back hurts), but I can't/won't condemn the practice, and going further, wouldn't judge the sikh community on the basis of how they serve lunch in gurudwaras.

June 28, 2008
02:40 AM


Yes, so when we talk about anecdotal evidence neither of us can be right. Nobody tracks data of the sort we are talking about. Everybody is talking about their personal experience, so let us leave it there as 'nobody knows for sure'.


Please refer to my posts above, I have no comments on 'leaves'.

June 28, 2008
05:09 AM

all generalisations are unfair.

however, try living in chennai if u don't know tamil and have a fair skin. tamilnadu is a racist place.

June 28, 2008
05:16 AM

all generalisations are unfair.

however, try living in chennai if u don't know tamil and have a fair skin. tamilnadu is a racist place.

June 29, 2008
01:10 AM


Where are you from?

July 3, 2008
12:48 AM

I was in delhi 4 years back, my second visit up there. I wanted to eat a masala dosa in CP. I tried the occasional Southie shop and scouted for a good looking place to eat Masala dosa. Man I found one. That itself is such a joy. This masala dosa was so special. Too customized. It has paneer stuff inside it. It was a shock for me to find paneer in a masala dosa.

In gurgaon just behind the huge malls, I found nice idlis served by a northie who had lived in South India and andhra sytle meals by a south indian family. Occasional good south Indian food in North India was nice. I also loved the way the rotis are served hot in dhabhas. parathas was a breakfast i never missed.

I have many Northie friends and for me India is one. We all have our unique cultures and I love Indian variety.

July 19, 2008
06:26 PM

Well said, nice read.

July 20, 2008
10:47 AM

"The people down south look at Northies as a community that places importance on show, splendor, outlook and all other things considered trivial down under. "

i agree with this.
for instance i visited india a few times and happened to stay in norh and south indian cities both. and i must say that girls in delhi and punjab were really beauutiful. while going to a college or university in a south indian city will make you realize that much fewer girls are attractive there.

i think north indian people are aware of this and have a feeling of superiority.

i mean look at south indian movies and their heroes are so ugly. not anywhere near the bollywood ones.

July 20, 2008
11:08 AM

andrew... wow, were you trying to be offensive or did that crap just come naturally?

August 7, 2008
04:28 PM

Among all the things that need to change in India, it is sad that people only feel the need to change the practice of sitting and eating on the floor, and being served on banana leaves, and mehendi!

If you have not realized, you comments are in extremely bad taste. It shows what a superficial and a narrow outlook you have on life.

August 8, 2008
05:32 AM

Shwetha - nowhere is it implied that people "only" feel the need to change the practice of sitting and eating on the floor, and being served on banana leaves, and mehendi..

If you want to discuss other problems in India like terrorism or inflation, I'm afraid you are then posting on the wrong thread. You can always go to the appropriate threads.

August 9, 2008
05:46 AM

north indians have this image of south indians as being very miserly and frugal. this i think is because of reletively greater poverty in south rather than a habit.

August 9, 2008
09:48 AM

It is better that we stop being idiots and stop debating this topic.

February 9, 2009
07:02 PM

"Personally, I think pattals, kulhads (and banana leaves down south) are far better for the environment than styrofoam, paper plates etc."

I couldn't agree more with you Anamika. I'd also think that it's beyond a personal opinion, and can be proved using some criteria as well as data. I've read some cons about kulhads (which I don't know whether they're true or not), but the other two - for sure, they are organic (in the sense of matter, not standards), biodegradable and/or after use, provide some food for cows, whereas styrofoam containers will likely remain with us for many years in landfills. This is one example where what's been done traditionally and culturally is way ahead of what science delivered (styrofoam containers) and western way of making disposable utensils.

But I wouldn't be surprised if some folks (like Roshan) by default accept what came from the west to be "better", and feel ashamed of plates made from leaves.

Add your comment

(Or ping: http://desicritics.org/tb/7886)

Personal attacks are not allowed. Please read our comment policy.

Remember Name/URL?

Please preview your comment!