“Madam are you from Japan?”
For a moment I thought he was kidding me, but unfortunately he wasn’t!
Just because I had stepped out of the airport with a friend from Manipur and distinct features, I was perceived to be Japanese by the auto-rickshaw driver in Delhi. I am not from Japan, my ancestors are not from Japan, and I do not have the physique or features that people use as a lame excuse for nurturing a simplistic perception of anyone from the North Eastern States of India, with least awareness of the plurality of people . I look Punjabi and even am Punjabi, this was the most incredulous comment ever, and I am still overwhelmed by the sheer ignorance that persists!
I told him I am not, that my friend though from Manipur, lives in Delhi and asked him to drop me in a residential area of Delhi, indicating that I have been to Delhi before and am not the tourist he assumes I am. But this guy was truly persistent. He tried to take me via longer route, he told me how Delhi is a great place, and then to exasperate me further, he actually pointed at India Gate and told me how it is a must watch tourist destination.
When we reached towards my destination and I guided him on the turns, he assumed it is thanks to my mobile phone and maps, and finally before leaving told me how he came this far just because I could have been cheated by other driver folks in the city.
I think somewhere the gentleman mentioned gave me the beginning of an answer to a question another had asked around 6 months ago, “Why do we need museums?”
Buddy, you need museum to go to the anthropological section and begin to understand that the North Eastern States of India are not Japan, to start being aware, to nurture empathy, not ignorance.