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Recently I was asked by my office to get reactions, now called as Voxes in television language. This time we were to give on Godhra riots. The hearing was slated & we were trying to assess whether the people felt that case had dragged for too long, the 1st order of the Courts had held few guilty & were to pronounce their verdict.

It’s crazy to get people to talk on any subject nowadays. While most are television & publicity crazy, they’d rather enjoy being seen than stand up & really comment.

We Indians just love the feel of a hard fence below the back sides. It’s a sense of false re-assurance. We can never keep everyone happy & eventually end up being unhappy individuals.

In this finding the reaction process, we are compelled to stop people, in a jiffy inform them of the subject & keep up with their pace. Remember it’s us who want their quotes.

Some refused outright, some smiled & shyly ran away (may be they are scared of their bosses or that their wives will catch them on camera, whatever). Some love to appear on camera & why not. While some simply leave me speechless.

One such hard-pressed for time man stopped listened to my question & replied. “Sorry, I’m a Malyalee.” I swear, he did. I even asked him, “What’s the connection between you being Malyalee & Godhra? Mr Malayalee replied, “I’m not supposed to talk.”

This is not about a person from one particular community. It is a commonly seen trait in all communities, especially those people who don’t wish to ‘comment’ on anything.

This was pretty hilarious as i stood speechless. Yes, I was silenced for once & not by someone who was least defensive or aggressive. By a person who took shield under something so innocuous –yes it is harmless & poor man must’ve just not realised what to say in his defense. I was like so what if you are a Malayalee, you are permitted to talk, you must if your feel strongly about something. He said something, “I don’t know what you are saying, I’m not connected to this.”

I tweeted about it & ofcourse took digs at my Malayalee pals to tell them to come up with something better next time. So one said, “Neeta, riots kind of things don’t take place in Kerala. Also for us Malayalee it is Kerala or then only Dubai. Rest of India & the world doesn’t exist.” By god this was real! This man may really not have heard of Godhra. Is that possible? it is. We are a huge country & not all are aware, more so want to be concerned about it.

The VJ (camera person) typical north Indian laughed his sides out. “Kya admi hai? Malayalee hai toh kya hua? Arey that is not an excuse. Kaise nahi pata Godhara mein kya hua? Kitney log marey gaye…” so before it became another North v/s South war i continued to laugh & said, “maan gaye is ustaad ko.”

I wonder what the Maharashtrians would have said in this situation. I betcha, either, “chal baju ho, kat kat meli,’ outright shoving me away. (get lost irritating creature). Or “nodding vigorously, i’m getting late, I have to catch a train otherwise i will miss it.” More aggro women would have said, “Will you come to my house and cook? No na, then leave my way.” The more right wing-ohh there are plenty of Marathis who believe in this ideology, would have stood, hogged the space on camera & emphasised how the accused in Godhra train burning incident need to be hanged, well one did tell us.

While most would do “huh” and run along. This man who had migrated to the city of dreams was caught off-guard completely with something he actually may have remotely heard of. Something obviously he has little to do with & more so wouldn’t want to be bothered with the larger picture.

This is the real India. People are caught up with their own lives, issues, web of problems & struggles of a daily life. We can’t expect each one to be bothered about every issue & expect them to have an opinion. Not when they are still on rung 1-3 on Maslow’s Pyramid. When they are struggling to survive the local train  journey, travelling to a new city, often one doesn’t want to stick their necks out. It is our culture of silence, of wanting to be safe. But are we really safe?