IMFP – Indian Made Foreign People
Dr Ksh Imokanta Singh
Analogizing Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) to Indian Made Foreign (Phoren) People (IMFP). This piece of thought had been kept neglected, cloistered in the corner of the extreme left thought-shelf located on the ground floor of my thought library. I have to drag it out before it becomes cobwebbed, dust it out and keep it in the main reading room for public consumption. As such, infinite number of stories has been lost untold without any trace for millions of years of human existence, for many varied reasons.
The key to ignite this piece of thought was pressed by the constant media report of confiscation of huge number of IMFL bottles by Manipur Police personnel, lined up in front of sheepish looking culprits with blurred eyes hiding the identities, may be due to media ethics. But today the work of graphic man in the media house has been made easy with masks and hoods donned by the prized catches. Police must be having their own ways of disposing the confiscated goods, which are appropriate for a dry State.
The name itself is really interesting and intriguing at the same time-Indian Made Foreign Liquor. Giving respect to mostly red coloured spirited drinks (Yu-ngang) as compared to mostly colourless (or is it white?) local/ domestic ones (Yu-ngou) ! Other important catch words are ‘Indian Made’ (Make in India campaign ?). This foreign-local binary brings me to the cultural and racial issues involving Mongoloid featured North-East Indians in the North, South, West India and even in Kolkata. For majority of the uninitiated residents of these regions, Mongoloid North Easterners are not like ‘them’ but from ‘phoren’ land. The word foreign is reserved for those coming from America or Europe, especially.
When talking of ‘phoren’ they are primarily Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, China etc. For them North-Easterners are ‘phoren’ imports in India and for North Easterners, they, themselves, are just Indian Made Foreign (Phoren) People (IMFP), especially in big cities like Delhi. Strangers in their own country !
Mongoloid North-Easterners are actually out rightly outstanding people. They outstand wherever they are in the afore-mentioned regions, easily identifiable. Is it something like a black James Bond 007 unable to hide in a white Europe ? Or is it something like a sole peacock in the midst of uninterested peahens ? (Today many of our girls/women have started looking not like ‘us’ with those Nupi Shabi Make-ups.)
Looks are not problematic as long as it is racialism (biological). Problem starts when it takes the course of racism (prejudice). Incidents of name calling, be it in sportive way or otherwise, are something most of North-Easterners have experienced in these regions. However, the same seems to be valid universally. North, South, West, East Indians are also easily identifiable in Manipur also. We have a generic name for them also here but they are not IMFP.
Personally, for me, it had been overall a pleasant stint living in the capital city for years, except for those small incidents here and there. Making friends, especially when the room mates in the hostels were from Bihar and UP, was a game changer. Surprisingly, all my room-mates in the College and University hostels (Mazher and Jitendra) were aficionados of Sher-o-Shayari, which I immensely enjoyed and learnt (many times I was just a tube-light, Urdu being Greek to me).
Nevertheless, I carried my face, with head held high, everywhere I went (long hair which I sported once didn’t change my biology). Once I went to one of my dearest friends, Pravin’s village, Janjokhar, a non-descript village near Meerut in UP. Pravin and Jitendra were from the same stock, but I invited some curious glances from the locals, since I was something like a ‘jadoo’ to them as I was in a place where they did not get to see faces like mine quite often. But getting acquainted with them, speaking their own tongue, enjoying rotis and sabji (prepared by my friend’s lovely Bhabhi in chulha) and visiting sugarcane fields in the morning (ganneki khet, as they call it), made my day.
Coming back to Delhi from Meerut, those were my innocent days when most of the NE students crowded Nehru Vihar, Gandhi Vihar and coming out to Mukherjee Nagar in the evening, eye feasting, sitting near Batra Cinema (in fact I saw the film Duplicate thrice, not because I loved it so much but because they didn’t change the film Fridays after Fridays).
Today, I realise, recollecting those days, why many, most of them Rickshaw pullers, lined up near a window strategically placed in a shoddy location instead of the posh looking one located in the main market place.
That was the difference between IMFL and Desi maal. One day a friend of mine from Manipur, who was already in the habit, visited my rented room. Being new he did not know the difference, both being red in colour, and brought one bottle of Desi. He was shy though when I expressed my innocence. But he did not throw away the bottle. But Delhi taught me to taste those energising ‘vices’ later.
Race between Foreign and Local is conspicuously visible in Manipur too. Anything Red is a tad higher than the readily available Local, no matter whether they are manufactured here in Local factories (real IMFL) or Khatkhati, in Assam or imported from Tamu (Myanmar). High and low brow ! But many whom I know have turned to local, opining that they are original, despite the rumour/fact that our clever local entrepreneurs use Good Knight mosquito coils, Urea etc. to rack in good and quick bucks.
(To be contd)