Wake up Siddu!


By: Vivek Mohan

Yes. Thanks to the film which gave me an apt and timely title to talk about something that has been bothering me for some time…

The ‘Dev Bhoomi’ is also the land of ‘siddus’- an integral part of Himachali cuisine. When we’re small and immature we’d jokingly term sardars as potatoes found in every nook and corner of the world! No wonder today, and deservingly, the finger licking butter-chicken, mouth watering curry-rice and foot tapping bhangra are all-pervasive!!!

Such is the power of migration and hard work… with your feet firmly planted and still mingled with the ‘alien’ world for a cosmopolitan society the need of today. Unfortunately, Mumbai witnessed otherwise, thanks to unscrupulous politics (not Bombay, mind you, ‘Wake up Sid’) in becoming ‘outsiders’ vs. ‘localites’ – ‘North Indians’ (actually UP/Bihar) vs. Marathis. The Hindi media blew it out of proportions to ‘safeguard’ its constituency!

Coming to the brass-tacks…

I feel hurt when it comes to Himachalis settled outside. Where are our “brand ambassadors”? What are they doing or not doing?! OK. We might not be ‘ancient’ in our modern history but we do possess some unique strengths and also weaknesses but don’t seize enough of the opportunities. I find it very laughable when some fairs and festivals are coined ‘International’ when they are not even talked about regionally by our ‘visionaries’ and presented in the oft repeated sarkari style year after year with monotonous arrangements, programmes and PR. Like the 70s and 80s’ Bollywood ‘International’ productions and box office duds in India! Why do we suffer from ‘gora –complex’? Two hippies faces in a crowd of localites do not make an even by any ‘definition’ ‘International’!

Wake up Siddu!

Shed your ostrich-like vision. Do we also live in a global world or are we still villagers in this globe?! Export not only Himachalis but Himachal too. It hurts when ever effervescent, bubbly Preity Zinta wants to perform only ‘Punjabi Bhangra’ and not Natti if Kings XI Punjab enters s/f’s in IPL-II… Imagine how many eye balls worldwide would’ve added a new word in their cultural vocabulary? Can you IMAGINE? Or are you ‘world-famous’ on the Mall Road only? I remember how initially when I came to Bombay then persons knew Shimla, Kullu-Manali, Dharamsala but not Himachal! They may be dumb but we are no more intelligent either. It hurts when Kangana Ranaut, the latest heartthrob in Bollywood, feels embarrassed to tell the outside world that she’s not from Mandi but more popular Manali. The ‘famous’ Sukh Ram is definitely not the reason… it’s as frivolous as people presume it to be – ‘subzi mandi’! You blew up your chance, baby.

We too are to blame. We go ga-ga over masala news and not raise such issues. A section of the media plays to the gallery to fill up pages apart from tenders and we happily surrender (case in point is PZ’s last visit to Shimla a few summers ago where she ‘promised’ to eat siddu the next time!) Keep waiting for the Godot. PZ. Poor Zoke. Bad politicians are elected because good people don’t vote… they just talk in coffee houses. Suddenly a ‘Himachali’ Madan Lal will appear and …

Wake up Siddu

It’s not all hurt. The heart rings with ‘josh’ when the National Anthem is sung… “vindhya HIMACHAL yamuna-ganga …” Lemme sum-up with a Guru Dutt number… “jinhe naaz hai Hind (Himachal) per woh kahan hain…?”

Wake up, Siddu.

(The writer is an award-winning film-maker from Himachal)

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  1. You have struck the right chord. What complex do we have in claiming and admitting that we are from Himachal ? At one time, PZ had traced her ancestry to Rajasthan Rajputs as per a news report quite a few years back. Likewise , what brownie points does Kangana hope to gain by saying that she is from Manali ( and not from Bhamla in Mandi district ! ). Hats off to Anupam Kher who is candid about having his roots in Shimla and still remembers his alma mater- the DAV School, Lakkar Bazar.

    • Vivek ji, you have raised very important aspect of himachal's ethos. I would like to add few more points.

      (1) I feel we cover up our inferiority complex by a kind of arrogance. When outsiders visit our land, we are very polite, hospitable and innocent also. (मेहमानों पर जान छिड़कने वाले ) When we step out of our land and enter into other's territory, we try to remain composed to the extent as if we do not exist. (छुई-मुई की तरह)

      (2) When we step out, we are not aggressive rather we are submissive. But at home we behave like any other human being.

      (3) Comparatively we have got less opportunity and less exposure.

      (4) There seems to be overdose of fatalism, which has worked as intoxication, and made us not only self-content, but self-righteous also.

      (5) Now times have changed. We are almost a part of main land. Information technology and roads have have created bridges. And thus we are exposed to every evil and every opportunity.

      (6) But our mindset has not changed. (Exceptions at individual level will always be there.)

      (7) I think this is our collective psyche, full of contradictions.

      We have to work hard in this area with more focus on younger generation.

  2. I do agree to most of the issues raised.

    To add on this; recently on a visit to Himachal, i experienced a strange thing that himachali people, with each other, will talk in every other language than pahari if they are outside himachal (in delhi, chandigarh etc.). And any ordinary himachali like me can easily make it out. I don't know this might be a small issue which doesn't need 'trumpets' to be blown. But i do feel that alienation (feeling of inferiority) to language might lead to big cultural change which people can't see now but inevitability can't shroud for long.

    I also feel as mentioned in the article that we don't have 'Brand Himachal' and our so called potential ambassadors (Eminent people in society ( film stars, sports stars and so on) ) have long forgotten about it. Actually sense of responsibilty towards the culture, society and traditions is never taught in the schools. So how can we expect all this in this fast-paced world where profession is only seen as money minting machine.

    Coming on to the youth mentality:

    if we take a look we have become multicultural society unknowingly or knowingly (for some). Today 14' box which is churning out everything from eatery to clothings, education to entertainment, perception to vision and so on basically what i mean to say is today very few people have their personal choice. (i am saying this after i realised today if you ask people about rational of some activity, they will directly point to media as fad; i mean many people don't have actual rational for many activities they carry out in their daily life. I am not mentioning this at philosophical level rather at a level much lower for basic things in daily life.

  3. In a globalized world ones identity only shrinks as it has done with us.

    None to blame but ourselves for those who have excelled or distinguished themselves in whatever field of work, have shied away from paying back to the land that owes them the foundation of success attained.

    If so be our fate then either live it or take up cudgels and stand up to claim ones place under the sun

  4. I think Vivek has raised an extremely pertinent issue. Having been born and brought up in Shimla till i joined the Army (when i left the place to come back once a year ), i can easily relate to the issues which have been brought out so succintly by Vivek.I think a lot depends on all of us who can tell this global village about our homeland and that too in a positive manner. In fact we all should be proud of the fact that Himachal is second in so many fields in the India Today survey on States.

    Good josh Vivek and thanks for a lovely and a lively write-up. Regards. Ajay.

  5. Vivek ji, you have raised very important issue of himachal’s ethos. Good effort Vivek

    Regards. Amit Kanwar


  6. I am proud to be a himachali…I have my roots in Dharamshala.

    Himachalis have a history of making huge sacrifices for the country…..Many people from himachal, be it the Dogras, Rajputs and Gorkhas…….have given their lives for the country, while serving the Armed Forces.

    We need to take pride in ourselves when we are away from our state to earn a living.

    A living exampleis the Sikh community, whichever part of the world they may be in, they take immense pride in being together…they speak their own language, they have ensured that their culture and heritage is intact whereever they may be…in Canada, the U.S., the UK, or in Australia. The same is in the case of the food they eat, the music they listen to, their folk dances, the language they speak.

    We all need to be proud to be Himachalis………My heart swells with emotion whenever I cross Mehatpur…..then Una…Amb….Bharwain…Dehra …Ranital…………and I feel terrible when I have to take the same route back……..

    We need to get our people to be brand ambassadors wherever they may be, irrespetive of caste, creed or religion…….and make the world aware that there is more to Himachal that the few tourist spots that they know of.

    Jai Himachal!!!!

  7. Point well presented Vivek ji. Kudos to your efforts in presenting the chain of ideas… and hope that similar articles are presented in print media as well. (Electronic media has a limited and selective reach i think) Its time for us Himachalis to move beyond the Coffee house and the Mall Road.



  8. One thing i feel why "Himachal " is not recognised outside is because we don't have any language (Bhasha) , its only "boli" that we speak which is called pahari. For the same reason we shy away from speaking in pahari with fellow himachali's.Himachal is considered as hindi speaking state. The other thing is all 12 districts have Boli of their own , there is no common language that we share except 3-4 districts like kangra, hamirpur,bilaspur,mandi, kullu to some extent and on top of that we have different accents for the same pahari. So its hindi only that binds us togethere outside. PZ and kangana are not wrong in using manali and shimla to show them as their humble abode because outside no one knows Mandi, Hamirpur, Bilaspur i.e some of the names which are common to other states also like UP and MP. We have 12 different naatis (dance forms), if u visit HP university one will find students divided geographically on upper and lower himachali feelings, so which "himachal brand" u'll project to the outside world. There is no differentiating trait that will make a himachali stand out in the crowd, therefore we are not left with any other option outside but to dance on punjabi music and do bhangra than naati on pahari music (if there's any).

    • Sunil ji, you have strung the right cord by raising the issue of language. There are people who are working for Pahari/Himachali, but have less support. Culture and Identity are closely knit with language. We have to work hard for this. Secondly, both pahari and natees have potential to become Himachali Brand. Who will meke this brand? We only.

  9. On a lighter note these days 1 reads about Himachal a lot…! The new Taliban Chief Hakimullah Mehsud is from "Kotkai"…The Edwina – Nehru cancelled film's producers are "Mashobra Films" ! Ha !

  10. Yes we are to blame for this. But we are not the people who believe in false marketing. What do we gain from this? Getting few millions more to be aware of the fact that Shimla is captial of HP and Himachal in not inside Shimla? I Lived all my life outside Himachal but never ever shied away from being called Himachali or Pahadi or Himachali Pandit. My friends had Daal Khatta at my place and still remember that taste. They heard 1 pahari song in their life time and remember it till date (although make more fun of it !! ). There are countless other examples that make us unique and less heard of. But is it that bad? I don't think so. Since most people I meet don't know 5% about Himachal, it makes me extra proud by telling them what the State is all about. That makes a much lasting impression. You can't count on people who never wanted to be known as Himachalis like Kangana or Preety. Everybody loses his/her original identity in Bollywood. Even Amitabh Bhachchan did. Welfare of our state lies in people who care about our State and will continue to do so.

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