“Where are you from?”
“I am from Vadodara.”
“Vadodara, it’s in Gujarat.”
I have been having that conversation for a long time with anyone and everyone from outside Gujarat.
We hardly figure in the toppers list of the national competitive exams, our English speaking skills (the famous Dayaben twang) have been mocked over at least a zillion times, we haven’t produced any recent scientist of national stature, we haven’t produced any national sports hero for quite some time. We have been accused of being a fun loving populace lagging behind in education with poor interpersonal skills; our patriotism has been tarnished as nationalism.
Being Gujju is eating Dhokla.
Being Gujju is supporting Communalism.
Being Gujju is owning a motel in America.
Being Gujju is drinking illegal hooch.
And then you ask us, why Narendra Modi’s becoming the next Prime Minister of this country is a personal victory of each and every Gujarati worth his salt? Well, maybe to reach Delhi, we had to take a detour via Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, but only under the aegis of a Gujarati Chai walla, you would be able to reach there in such large numbers! While all the pseudo-intellectuals tried to drown him out with inundating criticism, his speeches considered abrasive and his manners rustic, opposition accused him of being a polarizing figure – yet he won. And yes, we are goddamn proud!
The reason why the Modi win is such a joy for us all is that not only he is one of our own who made it big, his victory would surely lay to rest all those stereotypes you subjected us to when you sniggered behind our backs over our petty money-mindedness and our poor debating skills, when you hear Modi speaking pro-business and get bowled over. A Gujarati is worth much more than the clichés you attribute to him.
Irrespective of the fact that Modi may prefer the Varanasi seat, Vadodara is now on the global map. Now when you say, ‘I am from Vadodara’, people say Modi’s land. The first speech Modi addressed after his election victory was to the people of Sayajinagari. Two years back, when my fellow mates wistfully said that Modi should be the P.M., I thought it was just wishful thinking on their part because in reality, I thought, it was biting more than one can chew. But then I forgot – biting more than one can chew in other words would mean being enterprising. And yes, we as a community have been just that, if not more. So while today, I am not claiming Modi to be solely the property of Gujju fellas, we would surely like you to remember that a Gujarati is the Prime Minister.
And this victory won’t be a standalone. We are coming out in huge numbers. An enterprising, hardworking Gujarati with a boosted self-esteem would go a long distance and we are now ready to travel light-years to sell Dhokla and Dandiya!
We are Gujjus and Modi’s Men through and through!