What Phylum Are You ?

Back in college (school, to those of you who subscribe to this strange usage from across someone else’s pond) we had a euphemism for casteist leanings and biases – phylumbaazi??- basically the urge/desire/need to classify, bucket, put in groups everyone you meet.

There’s been some controversy over caste questions in the ongoing census??(though in my personal experience, was not asked any such questions!).

Made me think about these issues, and their reduced relevance to at least a slice of our society. Our son had a similar question before him when some kids – barely 8 years old – were rather innocently figuring out their ethnicities. Shubha’s a Palghat Iyer who grew up in Jharkhand. I’m apparently from Rajasthan, with our ancestoral village in the UP heartland, and grew up in Jamshedpur as well. For the last decade and a half Bangalore is home, and between the two of us we speak a little bit of Kannada, like the people, coffee and this is firmly home. We’ve setup a home in Coorg and might just decide to retire there someday! Like I say in jest – we have no roots and many branches. What ethnicity do the kids claim ???

I guess for the (growing) bit of the population which is in the same boat as ours, these identities and questions already have little significance. It can only be good for India. But sometimes, the others expectation of a clear response to the “where are you from” leave one a little bothered. Most of all, the government!

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