Dhanbad to Delhi: From Trying To ‘Fit In’ To Realising It Doesn’t Matter

Posted by Sayantani Mustafi in Campus Watch, My Story
December 19, 2017

Two years ago, I came to Delhi, leaving Dhanbad behind – a place which you might or might not have come across in your geography textbooks.

Dhanbad is a place where the majority of the population hasn’t been exposed to the modern day amenities and luxuries at all. A city with no traffic lights, few shopping malls and fewer eateries. It’s also a town that houses umpteen dreams. While covering a distance of 1,240 kilometres, I realised that I was not only leaving my family and friends behind but also a part of me. I remember how sceptical people were when I told them that I would be going to Delhi for graduation. They feared that I might not be able to adapt to the culture and the lifestyle of the capital.

For the past two years, I have been experiencing the bitter taste of inferiority in unexpected ways, and on a regular basis. The discrimination that I’m referring to is probably the most unheard of. Believe it or not, people are unwilling to discuss it.

I realized that I was unaware of a lot of things that people around me would casually bring up during conversations. I wasn’t exposed to the same popular culture as my friends from big cities were. My friends would discuss how funny Chandler was, or how good “Breaking Bad” was, and I would corner myself out of the conversation.

On several occasions, I was judged for the songs I had heard or for the ones I didn’t know. Most notably, I was mocked for the way I spoke Hindi. My struggle could be best traced from “Hum Dhanbad se hai” to “Main Dhanbad se hu” which took me almost a year. On discussing this obscure lifestyle with people back in my hometown, all I was ever advised was to never change myself. I think I have tried my best to keep my friends’ and family’s request.

I have never seen it as a weakness, to be honest. As a person, I have always been open to learning and adopting certain mannerisms from the urban culture. I believe in broadening my knowledge spectrum. But there are moments when the constant leg-pulling gets to your nerves. Two years in Delhi has changed me in a lot of ways, both positively and negatively. I have grown as a person, and I believe that I have been learning and unlearning something or the other every day.

The discrimination that I have been talking about is something a lot of my friends from Dhanbad and other small cities who have migrated to bigger cities have been facing. All of us have different coping mechanisms, and with time I believe we have all learned to adapt ourselves to the changing culture.

In my journey from Dhanbad to Delhi, I have had the chance of meeting some amazing people who have made my days happier and helped me survive this city with a smile even during harshest of times. Thank you for being there, having my back and accepting me for the way I am.

I can’t fit in someone else’s shoes. I tried a lot to ‘fit in’ – but now, not only do I not want to ‘fit in’ anymore, I also know it doesn’t matter.