Thursday, June 04, 2009

Turning them into White Tigers

So what if we have a Dalit woman Speaker? The scene for the urban poor and unprivileged is not changing. Because our attitude is not.

We were just finishing our meal at a bbq place, when a platoon arrived – four urban bitches (well, I’m not given to calling people such, but you will soon know), three kids with their customary attachment of maids, girls of barely nine- ten. The women and their brats were seated at the table next to ours. The wonder-eyed maids remained standing. They looked about self-consciously as most diners stared at them and waiters flitted about ignoring them. It was obvious that the maids would not be eating there. That they would be standing, feeding the kids, accompanying them to the wash rooms, apart from picking up cutlery after them, keeping them from putting their hands into the grill and other such that ill-mannered rich brats are likely to indulge in.

The lipsticked and streaked hair mums would not want to be bothered while they discussed important life and death matters like John Abraham’s derriere and their new solitaire collection. So while the girls would stand and watch everyone feast on the sumptuous buffet, they would have to wait to get back home to their humble dal and rice. No doubt about it.

How fair is that! How many times have you resisted any food when you’re hungry, or even when you’re not. How many times have you not spooned into your own mouth something you’re feeding the child? How fair is it to expect the little girls to watch and not want the food you’re literally eating in their face? The women had no business putting them through this and causing others such embarrassment and outrage. They could have very well left the minders at home. Yeah, it would have inconvenienced them a little to take care of their own kids for the bit. But they could have also left the kids at home if it was so crucial to eat out with friends. I could have slapped those women!

A few days later, another one of the species was spotted at a high-end organic food store. She was billing in front of me. I recognize this species by the look of irritation they carry at such stores. It is meant to show that they’re overly used to such. That they cannot possibly be excited over such mundane as the redness of US apples (which incidentally look to me like they have been dipped in red nail polish) or black sapote from Australia.

So madam finished billing, paid by card, as was expected and walked out. At the Exit, the guard demanded to see the bill. What cheek! How dare he! Madam was totally mad. She looked about and located the bill and threw it at his face with disgust and stomped out. The poor man just looked away. I guess it wasn’t the first time.

Why is it that they treat people like this? Same people go update their Facebook status with ‘proud of the first dalit LS speaker’ and suchlike. Why? What are they proud of? Does it matter to them how the majority of the poor and lower castes live or make their living? Do they desire dignity for them? NO. Sadly, they mess up with their children’s upbringing too – desensitizing them to the extent that they feel that the domestics deserve no better.


  1. Vandana Hunma12:04 PM

    Your anger is legitimate. We are all exasperated by the lack of grace among this emerging upper middle class which for some reasons has this strange notion that it can display its material riches by ill treating the weaker ones. Its loud behavior is much shoddier and shameful when it travels abroad.

  2. Vandana Hunma12:30 PM

    I am very happy with the appointment of Ms Meira Kumar for several reasons, though knowing very well that she is not a dalit in the real sense. She never had to do without any of the basic things. Nor was she ever reduced to a nonentity not just in the eyes of others (waiters and restaurant guests you mention) but also in her own eyes.
    The media hype around her appointment is going to encourage many like you discuss the real social divide. Some attitudes will change.
    It is also possible that some dalit girls who had initially resigned to their fate about which nothing could be done would dare to dream.