Tanay Sukumar, Kumar Pratik, and Aashish Aryan, September 29, 2012
A Bihari software engineer living in New Delhi has started using the word “Bihari” as a derogatory word like other Delhiites do. He uses the word for people who behave in a gawaar (illiterate) way, or simply those who make him angry.
It all began when 30-year-old Rajiv Ranjan got irritated with people who mocked him for being a Bihari. He found the way out: he now poses as a Delhiite, even if it means having a hatred for people who come from his own state.
Rajiv, who works in a reputed software firm, was born and raised in Patna, Bihar. He moved to New Delhi in his early 20s, leaving all of his friends preparing hard for IAS. He says he has suffered a lot of discrimination in Delhi because of his accent, which is eerily similar to that of Lalu Yadav in his younger days. “The best way to deal with a trauma is to levy it on others. It’s the common human psyche,” he says.
Once an extraordinarily smart kid with a beautiful mind, Rajiv (or Raj, as he calls himself now) found it emotionally taxing to fight off stereotypes of being a Bihari since he moved to Delhi. He stopped eating with his hands, and had to resort to using spoons and forks, even for eating roti-sabzi. He stopped using mustard oil and middle-parting his hair, and switched to spiky hairdos with the “sexiest” of gels. He is now suffering from dandruff and hair-loss, he told us.
Rajiv also had to switch from a mild-mannered polite man to rude and haughty, just to convince people that he does not belong from the land of Pataliputra. “Biharis are the most unhygienic people around,” he shouted at us when we visited him. “They don’t have any manners, they are illiterate. The other day in the metro, I saw a Bihari staring at my touchscreen phone and asking his friend what is there in my hand! And, when he saw a big shopping mall on the way, he was so amazed that he tried to open the metro gate to get out! Biharis are dumb. And I am not one.”
Some of Rajiv’s friends tell us that long ago, he used to talk to his parents and relatives for hours on the phone. Now, he doesn’t even pick their calls, referring to them as “an embarrassment”. Rajiv has also started visiting pubs and discos, and smokes two packets of cigarettes a day to prove to his peer group that he is no more a Bihari. Apparently, anyone who does not smoke or drink is labelled as a Bihari by him. The guy has also stopped bathing regularly to use more deo and smell good.
When NTMN’s reporters met him, he called us “Biharis” because he spotted one of us picking the nose.