Saturday, 25 January 2014

Touching the Untouchable !

by Sanakan Venugopal


Travel is regarded as a part of learning. Out of my inquisitiveness to study different cultures, I had been travelling from my younger days itself. Here without any introduction I would like to draw a picture of an experience which I had to go through in Tamil Nadu.

Once, Prof . Nagappan Nair who gave a lecture on Media Law at Institute of Journalism equated an apt answer on India’s cultural diversity. He said, "India and China are strong developing countries. But we cannot compare China with India or vice versa, as there are lot differences between these two nations."

In China 90 percent of the population speak Mandarin Chinese and people in china are similar too, but coming to our nation, there is a lot of difference. for eg, when we keralites make a to Tamil Nadu or any other state, it makes us feel that we are an an alien. We aren’t accustomed with the culture of any another state in our nation itself.

The language itself draws the major barrier among Indians. And to be more clear, we find more free are more related with  an American or an English person than a Brother from Assam who also has the bores the same nationality of ours.

Coming to my rarest experience I had to face, In Erode Dist, there is place by name Kasipalayam enroute Sathyamangalam, once famous for Forest Brigand Veerappan. I had been there once to one of my friend's home in 2000 who comes from a Zamindar family (there its Gounder). Gounders are mainly landlords. His father is a known Gounder from the above mentioned place.

One fine morning, we had a walk. I had been in his home for about 7 days and all these days we had walk in the morning. Our walk was not only an exercise but for excretion (Nature's call) as there was no paraphernalia for the same. But I have a habit, I need a cup of hot tea before this so called phenomenal act. Hence we walked about a mile and found a tea shop. As we were approaching the shop, the shopkeeper came out with folded hands seeing my friend as I have already mentioned he comes from a Zamindar family.

Anyhow we were offered seats in the bench which was in the shop. I saw the shopkeeper cleaning the Glasses with soap as it was not often done. In the mean time, i could see a man with mud all over his body approaching the shop and took a Steel Glass which was kept outside the shop and went to a bore well nearby and cleaned it. and waited 10 meters away from the shop. I could also see three or more glasses of the same.

I asked my friend what does this mean. He in this 21st Century without any shame cleared my doubt, its nothing but, Untouchability. I was ashamed to say that I was a human being, the very next second my mind said that i must act something now. I took a Steel Glass from where the man had took it and pour my tea in the same and had my first sip. Then came the major problem, Shopkeeper told me to keep away from the shop and he won’t allow me to sit inside with the Steel Glass. I told him if you feel the person who is here comes from a lower caste then I too represent them.

I could see my friend was in a trouble as he was not able to take a decision where to support. Any how i made a hue and cry there and shouted at the shopkeeper that he will be arrested soon. That was a rare experience for me as I had studied Untoucability only in text books, but i could see and  felt in my life. when we reached home his parents were waiting for us as the news had reached them faster than a Speed Post.

Years passed on, I hope that things would have changed in Kasipalayam. And more over things would change as now there is a political churning happening in India.