For Tribespeople, Making it in India takes a Whole Different Meaning

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While stopping by New Delhi’s exclusive Khan Market once, I was asked by a curious shopkeeper: “Sir, where do you come from?” “Tripura”, I replied, hesitating fleetingly over his conversance with India’s Northeast region, and its various tribal states. Not for the shopkeeper, these nuances of ethnicity; as he boldly enquired about the peace process involving insurgents in Nagaland, and linked it to the floods in Assam. Assam, Nagaland and Tripura are three different states of the Northeast.
This is of course par for the course in India’s national capital, where the northeast is a hazy, distant homogenous whole, made up of tribespeople who look unlike other countrymen and women.
These questions have increased over the years, not lessened as one would have thought, with a growing awareness among Indians outside the Northeast. It reveals a sad fact that Indians know more about the inhabitants of Bollywood and cricket, than of the varied Northeasterners living in their country.

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