Cultural faultlines

Today has been a very eventful day. I started off by having a rather enlightening discussion with some of my colleagues on why Tamil film heroes do not look as good as their heroines. Well, actually Rita‘s casual question started it all! The heated debate that ensured (remember I’m in Tamil culture’s hotbed, Chennai) I would rather not go into the details but suffice it to say that I was shocked, enlightened, and angered at the same time.

To cool off, Zee and Rita suggested that we three go for a walk. On the way back, we were spotted by a TV channel TIMES News anchor Dhanya who wanted to talk to us about what we thought on the arrest of Abu Salem. Thank god, I just had spotted the news that Abu Salem and Monica Bedi were arrested on rediff! Anyways, that over, Rita then took us out for lunch where the next eventful thing happened.

Mrudula, AquaM, Zee, Vee, Rita, and I went to this Chinese restaurant called Shogan. While we were waiting for our order, a couple with a child and a domestic help walked in. She was old and shrivelled up. No one paid any attention to her. No one but us, I mean. While the couple made themselves comfortable, she was ignored. My heart (and all the others mentioned too) went out to her. She was in an old crumpled saree highly uncomfortable in such an environment waiting patiently sitting at another table. She couldn’t share her table with her employers, you see, or is it the other way around? No waiter poured out a glass of water for her. No one spoke to her. She was as good as invisible. It was too much to bear. So Mrudula decided to do something. While leaving, she left a note with the woman of the family. It said:

I am appalled, angered, and shocked at the way you treat your help. I would have come up and said this to you but I don’t want to make a scene.

The woman came running after us till the door of the restaurant. Of course, she couldn’t take it. She started yelling. “Did you know who I am?” she asked. Mrudula was a picture of restraint. She folded her hands and said, “I don’t care! You could be the Queen of Sheba or the President of India!” That really stunned that callous woman. She showed the note to the restaurant owner who did not know what to do. Eliciting no response from the manager, she then complained to her husband and child who soon joined her. The man did not know how to react. So he said, “Get lost!” We were all stunned onlookers. My hands went ice cold. I wanted to say something and leaned over to AquaM and said, “We should get in!” Mrudula said, “Stay out of it!” I suppose that was the right thing because it would have become a slinging match then. All the other guests looked helplessly. They were, I’m sure, wondering what the matter was. In my opinion, we shouldn’t have stayed. But now that we did, I told Mrudula, “Let’s go.” Staying there did not serve any point.

While leaving, when the couple were shouting, I said, “This is no way to talk to her.” But my voice was ice cold and not loud and possibly they didn’t hear. So we left, five shaken women and one hero! I really will not forget this day.

Can people be so callous? I’m really scared for the child who will imbibe such values. What kind of cultural faultlines we have to cross each day, each hour, each minute.

9 thoughts on “Cultural faultlines

  1. yeah, I would have exploded if these guys had not stopped with verbal abuse. The only thing stopping me from doing anythign was; but I wish I could have given that inhuman piece of creation a tight slap across her face.
    SHe does not realise it, but it is only a question of time until age catchhes up with her, and she could that lone sitting in that restuarant chair, staring sadly at the table without no one to care for.

  2. First of all, it is very disheartening to hear about such an incident. But then, there are all kinds of people in this universe..huh!
    But, I appreciate Mrudula’s effort to point the woman her mistake (whether she took it or not is secondary). If I had been in such a situation, I doubt if I would have been courageous enough to do such a thing.

  3. AFJ,
    I am glad that you posted this. People should know that such things happen and there are people like Mru who can stand up for what is right.
    Mru, You do not have to say anything. You did it all 🙂
    BTW, my eventful day did not end there. I slipped and fell in my living room which was full of water from my umbrella. 😦
    However, the rest of the evening went off well as I attended a great dinner party and enjoyed myself. 🙂

  4. Hi,

    AquaM: You were there! I wish no one was in that situation ever!

    Naveen: I agree with you.

    Rita: Oh my god! Please be careful!!

    Rohit: Yupp, can’t help the fact that people like that exist. And I can’t help but write about it! 🙂

  5. afj,

    actually reached this blog from Mridula’s, and no i understand that haiku.

    i agree with naveen. empathizing and doing something about it are two different things. I think I’m one of those guilty of stopping at one under the pretext of “it’s their business”. it’s not surprising at all, it happens around us all the time. dropping that note was a brave and a very polite thing to do. too bad that the receivers didn’t deserve the politeness.

    nice blog,

  6. Hello..:)

    Got to ya blog via Rita’s. A post thats needed and thats pretty much captivating. Ya frien is really Bold to be standing up when most people will just hold pity in their hearts, walk away and mind their own takes alot of Guts really.

    I have seen employers treating their domestic help a level lower than themselves many a times. Esepcially when instructing them to perform their duties. And i have also seen some sitting on the floor to eat their meals whereas their employers sit on the chair. I personally feel that even though this people are domestic helpers. They are human as well and deserve to be treated like one.

    And i have also heard of domestic help who take advantage when their employers are nice to them. So i guess its two side of the coin. This might have created fear in employers hearts with all the news around.

    Juz ma opinion:)thanks.

  7. Asuph: Hi! Thanks for dropping by! Yeah it was brave of Mru to do what she did.

    Thanks for the compliment! *blush*

    Zee: No re! Money doesn’t buy people manners at all!

    Jewel: Thanks for making it over to my blog! I have left some comments in your blog too! Yes, there are two sides to the same coin. But exploitation is a one sided story!

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