So far this summer, I have visited Chicago and Atlanta. While both trips were for events and not necessarily sightseeing, my trip to Chicago gave me an interesting perspective that I’d never seen before on my identity. For that, you need a little context…
I am from Honavar, India. This is a small coastal town in the state of Karnataka in India, and is just miles from the Arabian Sea and the beach. India in general has way too many languages for everyone to count, but the main language of my state is known as Kannada (not to be confused with Canada). The problem I faced growing up is unique from those of others, because I’m not just a minority. I came from a small group of people known as Havyakas, whose dialect is mostly similar to traditional Kannada, but slightly different. Amazingly though, most modern Kannada speakers, not from that group, have difficulty understanding it, and that’s understandable. If you take the sentence “I ate, mom!” and remove the comma, you have a different sentence entirely. Similar issues are encountered during communication between the groups.
What that should indicate is that I’ve become a minority within a minority within another minority.
I’m a minority in America because I am Indian.
A minority among Indians because I speak Kannada.
A minority among Kannada speakers because of my dialect.
It’s like Inception, but with minorities.
As a result, in my school and where I lived, it was very hard to find someone like me, and I was often mocked for my tongue among the Kannada speakers at my school. However, this trip to Chicago introduced me to “my people”, as it was a convention of only Havyaka people. For the first time, I could understand every single person there and talk freely in my tongue without fear. I could listen to quality performances and relate with people who had their name misspelled the same way I did (Hedge instead of Hegde). I felt truly at home among everybody there with regards to communication, which was an unusual feeling because I’m no slouch in the communications department. Friends were made instantly, and tremendous amounts of food were consumed. The experience meant a lot, as now, I do not feel like an endangered species anymore. I feel like I am part of a larger group that can stand together. I left very happy and a changed man, and the sense of community that I felt for the first time in my life will never leave me. I wish to attend again in two years if the MCAT has been taken care of by that time, and am glad that I was able to go to this one.