By Dr. Jayadeva Phurailatpam
“Sir, do you want anything else along with this chicken fried?” said the waiter at my favorite restaurant in Bangalore. When I look up, I saw a boy who must be in his twenties, with similar features as I am! I mean, small slanting eyes with mongoloid features.
He patiently took my food order, nodded and went off.
I was bit curious about his native place whether he belongs to my state, other northeastern state or a Tibetan (A large population of Tibetans are there in Karnataka). He came to our table to give the bill. Then I asked him, “ Where are you from?” for which he replied, “Manipur”.
I had a few longer conversations regarding his whereabouts in Manipur and how he came to Bangalore. He told his family is from a village in Manipur and that he left his studies, as he has to earn a livelihood for his family. Job vacancies in our homeland are almost miniscule so he decided to come Bangalore in search of a better future.
While driving back home, I could not stop thinking about the thousands of people who left home in search of a livelihood, which would help them, and their families back home. Not only people from our north-eastern states, many people from other parts of India leave their homes for the same reason.
I mean, look at myself. I have been outside Manipur for more than a decade, like many other people from Manipur. Some of them have either settled permanently outside Manipur or planning to settle in the future. Many Manipuris want to come back home but due to lesser offerings in our state, are forced to stay away.
A large number of Manipuris in Bangalore are students and rests are either in IT firms, BPO’s, salon and hospitality business. Few boys I have met works in security agencies too.
Whichever field they are, and how small or big they earn, it is always nice to see them work hard for themselves and their respective families back home.
I still remember the first day when I came to Bangalore. I felt like a chick coming out of its eggshell. I was so confined to my own security at home that it felt a bit annoying when I first came out to the real world.
Slowly and steadily I got acclimatized to the new world. The big malls, the traffic, the trees along the roads and the weekend cinemas became a part of me.
Soon after, I started having idlis and vadas for breakfast that I could not even swallow when I first came here. Bangalore was like a second home to me now. But that doesn’t mean I have forgotten Imphal.
Compared to other bigger capital cities in India, Imphal is obviously less developed. We all know that coming back to Imphal from other Indian cities feels like a time travel to a past civilization.
Starting from the airport itself, no one can miss the noisy tractor that carries luggage till the conveyor belt. If you give a little effort, one can also see the unloading of the luggage through the torn plastic partition. I always check through the hole whether my bag has come or not!
Moving over from the airport, the small narrow roads with improper open drainage always catch my eyes. Not to mention the power cuts coupled with water shortage that have always been a problem for the general masses in Manipur.
Compared to people in Bangalore or any other cities in India that I have gone, I feel we are very tolerant. We get adjusted with any problems so soon that no reaction comes out for the problems. No one questions the authority about the power cuts, the water problems, and blockade or job opportunities. Instead, we cope with these problems by getting inverters, water tanks, buying overpriced commodities and going to far off land in search of job.
Recently, I have read in paper that not only uneducated girls but also educated graduates from our state are being trafficked by luring them with lucrative jobs away from home, ultimately pushing them into flesh trade.
I feel sad, that one of the reasons for all these problems is the non-existent job opportunity in our state for both educated or non-educated citizens. Our state does not give enough opportunities to the youngster that they have no better option left than to leave in search of a living in far off places. Even if job vacancies are available, we all know that the rich and influential will only be considered.
Corruption has taken its toll on the people of Manipur. There is literally nothing that we can get here which does not involve corruption. We always blame Ministers as the core of all these corruptions. But what we should have realized is that many of us have taken ‘bribe’ while electing the wrong representative. Yes, I said it right. We have taken ‘bribe’ too. Many voters have admitted proudly that they have enjoyed the feast or the drinks or hard cash for their ‘votes’ to the wrong candidate. What we didn’t not understand is that, we are the only looser by committing such act. I don’t need to give an example to prove what I said. We all can see.
Unlike Imphal, Bangalore is a cosmopolitan city, with mixed culture. Majority of people are well mannered and educated. When I went to Delhi some months ago, I experienced some mild ‘racial’ slur towards me while going out for a walk.
While in Bangalore, we don’t see this kind of behavior much often. I am not telling that it is totally absent but rather lesser. As an outsider from a different state, separated from the native people by the appearances and language, we always feels nice when other people accept you among them. And obviously, we dislike when they poke you, like many recent incidents in Delhi.
But, yet again, I would like to point the same scenario in our very own city, Imphal. We always want other people to tolerate us but are we ourselves that tolerant to outsiders in our state?
Many issues are there in Manipur, that I feel even more aware now after seeing other states in India. Better roads, better transportations, better standard of living, lesser corruptions and many more.
Even though it is not the best of the cities in India, it is our home. It is the place that we were born. The place our families lives. A place that has unlimited memories of our childhood.
I don’t know how can we improve the current condition of Manipur but the least I can do is to share my thoughts for a new hope, a new beginning, IN SEARCH OF A BETTER PLACE.