All izz not well!

All izz not well!

National Integration

All izz not well!

A group of North Eastern students. dh photo by Dinesh S K

We chose to relocate to Bangalore for many reasons,” say the youngsters, who hail from the ‘Land of the Seven Sisters’, states in the North Eastern part of the country.

They form a sizeable part of the student body in St Joseph’s College of Arts and Science. Distinguished by their high cheekbones and petite build, they are usually very fashionably turned out, friendly and soft spoken. So, what has their experience of integrating in the City really been like?

“I have older siblings who came to Bangalore several years ago and now live and work here. Since I have a family to live with it has been a relatively easy transition,” says Nicholas, a second year Arts student, passionate about music and writing. Nicholas is erudite and well-spoken and considers Bangalore his home.

Payal, a fragile young Manipuri student says that while she has some very good friends among the local young people it took her a while to find her niche.

“We have to constantly deal with harsh landlords and tradespeople who take advantage of the fact that we are obviously not local. Auto drivers pretend they cannot understand our Hindi until we grumble at them. Then they react strongly. There are different set of rules for us especially with regard to accommodation,” she says ruefully. “People back home are so welcoming to outsiders. If you came to my state you would make friends instantly. People here are much colder which I suppose is symptomatic of large cities,” she adds. “But having said that, Bangalore tops as the best destination for students from other states. We also have a good network of North Easterners who help newcomers find their feet,” she adds.

 But what motivates them to leave their home states in such large numbers?
Nicholas goes on to explain that although life back home is non stressful and people are very content living in close knit communities, there are few opportunities for young people who want to broaden their horizons and explore their talents fully.

“If we want exposure and better job opportunities we have to leave. Although our region is foremost in fashions, sadly we lag behind in economic development. Bangalore is our first choice because of the climate and the fact that everybody speaks English. Besides that St Joseph's has a reputation for encouraging students to develop their skills and showcase their culture no matter where they hail from,” he adds.

Some of the other students however were not very forthcoming. Shing Sing from Manipur darted away in confusion reluctant to speak when asked a few simple questions about her life in the City.

Like her, some of the students preferred to hang together as a tight group rather than intermingle with the others.

A reflection perhaps of the long road still ahead for true national integration to take place in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the country.

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