So much for open letters

Open Letter(n.)- A published letter on a subject of general interest, addressed to a person but intended for general readership.

The strangest thing I’ve come across in the past few days of being cooped up at home with a viral is the “Open Letter to The Delhi Boy” blog post.  Despite having gotten to the page only after reading the several angry retorts other people had posted about it,  I started out reading with a clear head. I still had to stop halfway through and convince myself to actually complete reading, I’m not sure if it was a wise decision.

The letter, which Hindustan Times in an article published today says is a ‘Classic case of fighting stereotype with stereotype‘ is  something that left me scared for more than one reason. What an open letter actually stands for has been put up in the beginning of this post to ensure I (or anyone else for that matter) do not end up doing the same thing that I am reacting against. An open letter is not a rant. As aggressively as you feel towards the person/group you address the letter too, it is still a published letter and words everyone will be reading. there is still a major responsibility you have on you to construct your argument right and in a proper manner. The more passionately you feel about the matter, the more reason to ensure your passion does not cover up all the sense your argument might have had in the beginning.

If it was just about taking a letter that laughs at you in good humor it would be a different case and easier for most people to get over. But a letter with liberal use of crass language basically dividing your country into pieces and talking about one state (and once you read the article you realize its not just targeted against the men) in the basest manner possible is harder to humor. Even more saddening then reading the letter is to read some of the replys.  Almost all the ones that say ‘good job, very true’ also include  ‘I am a Tamilian too’ . A lot of replys against the article have been written with the same hate that the article has been written with and here I am willing to understand why. There are people who have commented with a more rational minds against the article but I wonder how many people are actually reading these replys with the same levelheadedness.  Besides the replys and the whole north-south debate you could see in them, I had trouble reading the morning newspaper because somewhere else on the very same blog, I read ‘I am a journalist’. If an article so biased  and in some ways baseless could have been written by someone who I might be relying on for free and fair news, I’m not to sure I want the news. Given the fact that I am young and am still considering my career options and what adults are supposed to act like, Well- I’m rethinking all of that.
But given the fact I’m asking readers to not typecast or stereotype all people belonging yo a group because of what one voice among them says, I shouldn’t be doing the same with a profession.

There are two other blog posts that have written in reaction and I actually think they deserve to be read more than the original. If you’ve read the original article, then you’ll need this to get back some faith in people back. If you haven’t read the original, these one’s are good enough to be read all the same-

The Disgruntled Mob-  Bhaiyya…Palika Bazaar ka Kitna?

The Mad Momma-  ‘Tis the season for open letters
They basically manage to encompass the reply that I and a lot of other people have tried to give to the article and in the best manner possible. Another letter basically stating the same is not required. The only part left out and in a way a question that Lavanya also asks in her reply is- ‘Do all army kids think the same way?’

That’s one of the things I hope people would not think after reading the article. Until i read the letter I used to think none of the army kids ever would or even could think like that.  The letter has obviously proved me wrong but like Lavanya states a case saying one south Indians views should not be taken as belonging to the entire community, I say the same, just from an army kids point of view.
Funnily enough most of us have issues with figuring out which part of the country it is to where we belong so we don’t really ever get to be a part of the south Indian versus north Indian debate. Even if we do know that, given we live in a different part of the country every two to three years and it could be the opposite ends of India for all you know, we know acceptance of every place and adjustment is much better than hate- For us and for everyone around us too.
There is a post that has been put up on the very same blog by Shahana  called ‘Daughter Desh Ki’. I liked that article, it stood very true for me and had been written well with an emotion a whole lot of us could relate too. She even has a line in that saying ”We are the only category of children in the country who get very confused when asked where we are from. ‘ Which makes it harder for me to understand where her most recent article came from. I’m sure if she had the sense and skill to write that article, this article if it  contained the same wouldn’t have gone so wrong. That you can’t really be the country’s daughter, as she calls herself, if you don’t see the country as a country but as several opposing states that are hostile to each other. Being a person who’s lived in several different states from the moment I was born and currently living in Delhi, the city that is being targeted, I assure you- It is not true.

We’re all allowed to rant, it isn’t wrong. Grab a friend and a coffee and do so or lock yourself up with your favorite books. If writing is the only way of catharsis for you, well and good. But please remember personal diaries aren’t such a stupid idea after all.


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29 thoughts on “So much for open letters

  1. Liked your post. It’s good to see that you have mentioned Shahana’s other post titled, Daughter Desh Ki”. I can’t believe the author of the 2 posts are the same.

    • Neither could I….I wish she’d used the same amount of talent and effort in this one or had enough sense not to write this at all.
      Thank you.

  2. That’s precisely what I thought, the moment I read that line. Sadly, for every Lavanya (who was kind enough to reply to my comment that she never would think that) there are 10 misguided souls who need just this excuse to start a new circle of hate. I hope that your article gets more air time than her diatribe & people know that this is not who we are & this is not how we were brought up.

    • If people are sensible enough to realize (which I hope they are) that all south Indians do not feel that way just because one of them says so, I am also hoping they believe the same for all fauji kids.
      Funnily enough we’re brought up to think the exact opposite way from the kind of thinking that went into the letter.
      What made me sadder is to see this article put up in a thread on a defence forum website with several people applauding it. I got off there as soon as I could because it got me so disappointed I didn’t quite know how to react.

      • I wish that were true. I always recall a Terry Pratchett quote “The IQ of a mob is the IQ of the dumbest member, divided by the number of people in a mob” & believe me, there’s no mob like the faceless, nameless entity that is the interwebs.

        I know exactly what you mean about not knowing how to react, I came across it on a friends wall. With around a million likes from our common friends. What can you do but walk away… I’m no stranger to humour pushing the boundaries of propriety, but this just reeked of hate & pettiness.

        P.S: Apologies for the late reply, I was distracted by the awesomeness that is your blog. Ah, to have a sliver of the talent that you possess, and at such a young age too (well, from where I’m standing anyway :D)
        P.P.S: Your blah magazine link seems to be broken (an extra “http”)

        • Apologies for my even later reply, I think the sudden overdose of the open letter made me want to switch off and stay away from the internet for a while.
          I just read her reply. decent enough. at least puts an end to all of it…I just hope another one of these doesn’t sprout up to soon given the number of open letters now circling the internet. Also that the army brats as we call ourselves make news only for the good reasons =).
          Thank you so much. The blogs quite an on and off in between thing , I keep coming back too..it’s nice to have someone say something so nice.
          I’ll just go check on the BLAH Magazine link, thank you even more for that.

  3. Read Shahana’s article. A sickening diatribe, not worth dignifying with a response. Sadly, her immature and vitriolic blog post has also sullied the much touted ‘ingrained value system’ of the defence children’s community, to which she proudly claims membership in her earlier post. Well, there are exceptions in every case. Sadly, her blog is getting a little too much attention, not a healthy thing.

  4. I agree with you…
    No way can i believe this gal is from an army background !!!
    I can’t remember a single incident when i prejudiced against someone on basis of where they were from..It was always fun to meet different people and get to eat different cuisines, see different cultures 😛
    In-fact the thing got so much into me, that i now find it tough to live at the same place for more than a year or two 😦
    I guess she’ll be d only from our clan to think this way… i just hope she is !!

    • i now find it tough to live at the same place for more than a year or two

      Ditto. I start getting restless in one place for too long.
      I guess being an army kid is more of a way of thinking we all share then just being about a tag we’re born with.

  5. Good thoughts.. !
    ‘am still considering my career options’.. your career is going to take you to so many places, you’d feel even lesser like you belong to one particular place.. I already feel like a mix of North and West India with few tid-bits from France and US thrown in.. God knows what I will feel five or ten years down the line.. in this regard, stereotyping totally appears stupid apart from being shallow..

    • that’s an interesting combination to be. I agree, stereotyping is completely shallow.
      Also, there’s no real point on trying to imagine yourself five or ten years down the line, that’s something life will always surprise you with. All you can hope for whatever/wherever it is, it’s a good place.

  6. well written Nina , stay that way calm , focused and impartial. Her rant is intolerable on many accounts ,1.the coarse vulgar language .. chain saw massacre your face , the I comparison an autistic on coke , shove coconuts till you sprout coir , that is crude insensitive and vulgar. 2. before she makes fun of the English as it is not so goodly spoken by people from the North , she shoud ensure that her own is perfect allude / elude . and another one . 3. Overall streotyping and generalisng everything Punjabi and North Indian for ex her case with the Punjabi music which all Delhi folks listen too .Music and song in the Punjabi language is not all about bhangar rap and pop there are century old soulful and such soulful sufi songs in Punjabi ) Baba Bulleh Shah among others who wrote the most wonderful songs in the language . she hays her father is in the army a Punjab regiment , it is just veneer to appear patriotic and Indian . Has she not heard the wonderful Kirtans and Gurbani in her father’s unit Gurudwara . 4. Arrogance and utter bigotry and refusal to see anything wrong South of the Vindhays , Gosh the soft porn industry the incessant quarreling between the people of the four major Southern Indian states . and the last of all the worst is that articles like this only spread hate and further divide the people . And Nothing I mean nothing could be more hurtful than her comment about an autistic child , does she know that some autistic children actually have IQs higher than us so called normal people . What id she were the mother of an autistic child . She tries to be funny but is just pathetically incompetent at attaining any standard of respectable impartial blogging . I really liked what you have written about what an open letter should be about . she comes across as a very immature wannabe writer. Well she comes across as a whiner hardly a writer Hey Nina do not give up on your aspirations pf becoming a journalist . This is just a big learning curve on how and what not to write ! Girl, we need a few good women like you and could do without this raag shahana singing in a most discordant note to a beat sans rhythm and a melody most shrill . Clearly Raag Shahna is a raag without sur aur taal kis bhi samay ke layak nahi be it a morning raaga broken and shattered as it is . Clearly it is a raag of doom seeking to spread hatred and divide people tsome of who are really trying to just get along with one another . India is a very diverse and vast country Every sate to has so much diversity , not easy to get along with each other but we have no choice but to make it work !

    • Compelled to say that there are only 4 states in South India. Rest are Union Territories. lol.

      Chill. That girl definitely needs a break and some new places to explore. Leave her at that.

    • Your points are very well picked out and valid. I specially like you last line. Thank you so much, it means a lot to read what you have written about my writing…not giving up on anything.

    • I swear. The newspaper’s publishing it seemed absolutely ridiculous. Writing about it is a different matter, it created enough of a wave to be in the news but to publish the entire letter word to word with no write up on it was plain stupid.
      Did you write the letter in the link?

  7. Nina, I like a point that you picked up, that there were many who said, “I’m Tamilian too”.. this is a serious trend. Just as some people reacted sharply to her stereotypes, some people are adding trouble to her life as well as the lives of other Tamilians, by giving out a feeling and many Tamilians and other south Indians also feel this way.

    So in reality, anybody who takes a gross offence to her writing will probably in real life, humiliate more south Indian people, some of them who may not even be aware of this blog article.

    The response by the Delhi boy was on the same lines. There was one Bengali chap who made it very clear how easy it is to write a hate post, but he won’t… and there was another which seems completely from the fence with no bias…

    You can have a good counter read. I am passing these on in the twitter.

    http://heelspoke.blogspot.com/

    http://openlettertoopenlettergirl.tumblr.com/

    • Thank you so much. Yes, sadly enough your point about people being offensive towards other south Indians who have no fault in this issue at all is true. Hopefully, people are more sensible then we take them to be.
      I have read the letter in the first link, will just take a look at the second. Thanks for the links and for passing this on too.

  8. Ppl… I feel extremely left out.. I am quasi-Delhite + Punjabi but no SUVs and all.. in fact not even one Tata Nano! I wanna write an open letter too now.. perhaps to everyone else writing open letters.. maybe then someone will send an ‘open reply’ to me too!! 😛

  9. hi Nina,
    well i’ll say its a sunday morning wasted..
    i came across the post of the ranting girl via fb and had a crazy idea to actually read it thru..
    mistake and that too very bad one..
    your reply to those letters were beautifully written and i assure you that all journalists are not like that girl as i have some friends in that industry . So dont be afraid of them and lastly IS THERE ANYWHERE I CAN PUT 5 STARS IN YOUR POST bcoz i wanna …
    true reflections of INDIANS..
    hats off gal 🙂

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