Saturday, January 05, 2013

Class Apartheid

If you keep your eyes open you'll see instances of class apartheid in India at every other step. Take my neighbor for example, who never bothered to learn the name of her gardener of 15 yrs because it is so much easier to just call him "Mali". Brochures of real estate companies sell you the dream house where the service lift is so well concealed that the cleaning staff will be virtually invisible. The houses are "3.5 bhk", the half-bedroom referring, of course, to the servant quarters. 

The other day our team drove to a resort called Bluemoon retreat (Sue me guys, I'm about to defame you) just outside Bangalore. After the usual shebang- paintball, cricket, volleyball etc- we settled down for lunch and called our driver, Shiva, to join us. Five minutes later we got a call back from Shiva telling us that he was denied entry into the lunch area. We confronted the manager about this, and he seemed surprised that we were even bringing it up. He even had the Colonel Jessup scowl that said "I don't have the inclination to explain myself to a group that enjoys its manufactured experiences in the sanity that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it". His actual words, though, were, "Drivers are not allowed here, sir. It doesn't look nice".  We eventually sorted it out but not before the conversation had reached newer levels of absurdity. 

If there is a nice thing about class apartheid it is that you can never take your status for granted (except if you are, say, Siddharth Mallya). There's always a level above you and the tables can turn in very little time. 24hrs in my case! The very next day, it was my turn to be denied lunch. I attended a christening at The Bangalore Club dressed in a Kurta and, horror of horrors, sandals. They ignored me initially because they thought I was the cameraman. When they realized I was a guest, they came over to warn me. But when they came close they caught sight of the chappals. That was the deal breaker. In fact, they hate chappals so much there that they won't even deign to say its name, referring to it instead by a euphemism, "open footwear". They promptly threw me out. Luckily there were two other schoolmates of mine that were in similar outfits. We left without protest, and plotted our revenge over fish-curry-rice at Koshy's. Watch this space for an announcement about a club that will have a zero-tolerance approach towards any formal attire
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