” And I know things now, many valuable things, that I hadn’t known before.” – “Into The Woods”
At some point in my life, I had been insensitive. But I try to not intentionally hurt the sentiments of someone. Now the reason I chose this topic – which may sound vague – is that recently, I got in touch with some old school friends and each one of them had similar kind of questions about the state of my origin – Odisha.
Yes, people it is Odisha with an ‘O’ not ‘U’, and the language we speak is Odia not ‘Udia’, ‘Uria’ or ‘Odissi’, which by the way, is a beautiful dance form. I think school books are to blame for this error in pronunciation.
As I mentioned earlier, I have been ignorant too. As a non-resident Odia, I didn’t know much about the language, culture and cuisine. So, when I was in school, friends would ask and say stuff which I had no answer to.
If I remember correctly, one of them said, “Udisa mat jana wahan pe sirf jungle hai n log jhinga lala hu karte hain (Don’t go to ‘Udisa’. There are only jungles there and people do jhinga lala hu).”
I have been in Odisha for the last seven years, and haven’t seen any such scene. Someone said people are “smelly” here. Well it’s all in past, we were kids and kids make mistakes.
What baffles me is they still ask the same questions. They still think all we eat is water rice, all we have in Odisha is Puri for tourism. Sometimes, I get back-handed compliments such as: “Your English pronunciation is good because you didn’t study in Odisha.” Over the years, I have known some wonderful people here in Odisha and they are much better English-speakers than me. I was also told food is cheap here because the standard of living is not high enough. You know what? That’s good news for a foodie like me.
I have heard many other stereotypical statements which I don’t want to delve into. To sum it up, I would just request people to get rid of the stereotypes and that they try learning before judging.