BANGALORE : Discrimination against us is not new, say some students from the North-East living in the city.
“We see a lack of respect when people talk to us,” says Bijoy, an undergraduate student. When he came to Bangalore a year ago, he says he was surprised that auto drivers were asking for excess fare. “Wherever we went, they used to charge us more. They used to look at us funny,” he says.
Many from the North-East come to Bangalore to study and work. While living in areas such as Shanthinagar, Kothanur and Kammanahalli, they say they have faced discriminatory comments, but have never felt unsafe.
“We stand out first because of our facial features and then the language,” says Abujam, who is pursuing a masters course. Most students say shopkeepers and auto drivers are the main culprits. “Shopkeepers try to charge us extra. When we speak in Hindi, they are surprised we know the language,” says Angelina, who works at a parlour.
Sometimes they are called Chinese and Nepali, or mistaken for Tibetan refugees. “When we tell them we are from the north-eastern part of the country, they are visibly shocked,” she says.
Meyasi, from Nagaland, admits not knowing Kannada sometimes comes in the way of communicating.
Smile, Walk Away
The North-Easterners have different ways of dealing with their problem. Kiara is the type who simply smiles and walks away. “But sometimes, we try to educate the people,” she says.
Some have no bitter experiences. “I have never been assaulted or attacked. Auto drivers do try to fleece us, but I don’t feel unsafe even when I venture out late at night,” says Gulshan K.
One student is careful not to tar everyone with the same brush. “Some are initially racist, but once they get used to us, they understand us. Others can’t get over the fact that we are different. But the second category is small,” says Gaius Shimray, a BCA graduate looking for a job.