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.