For years now, I have been grappling to come to terms with the fact that almost nobody north of the Vindhyas knows that there is a lot more to South India than Madras! I've given up on trying to educate the ignorant lot about the vast geography of the south.
- So where are you from?
- I'm from Coorg in Karnataka.
- You are a Madrasi?
- No, I am a Coorg.
- Madras is in Tamil Nadu.
- Yeah, same thing only, na?
- (shrug) So are you a Bihari?
- Nahi! I am Punjabi!
- Same thing, right?
- My God! Don't say like that, yaar. It is very insulting.
- My point exactly. See you around. [Exit]
After so many similar exchanges, I have thrown in the towel. Some people and their basic geography are beyond redemption. For everyone else down south who has experienced similar stuff, you can take heart in the fact that this ignorance extends to the North East of India as well.
Quick, name the 7 sisters of the North East! If you couldn't, you've got plenty of company out there. Since Sikkim has become such an intrinsic part of me now, I feel quite annoyed at the vast ignorance that people display when it comes to any place this part of the map.
When I said I was heading to Sikkim, there were a lot of people who simply presumed it was synonymous with Shillong, Shimla etc. Well, for the ignorant lot out there, here's what won't hurt you to know:
- Sikkim is actually a state by itself (you know, like Uttar Pradesh or Kerala etc).
- The capital of Sikkim is Gangtok (like Bhopal is to MP, or Bangalore is to Karnataka).
- Shillong is the capital of another NE state: Meghalaya (nothing to do with Sikkim).
- Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh (a long way off from Sikkim).
- Oh, and for the record, (this is for the smart alec who tried to flaunt his geographic ignorance to impress), Thimphu is the capital of the country of Bhutan!