Monday, August 01, 2011

The new lower class

I got out of Bangalore airport with my American colleague and looked for the taxi driver who normally picked up my colleague. He was smiling and waving and pretty soon we were on our way to the city. I had decided to share my colleagues cab this time as it was hired for a whole days run, my facilities staff had informed me. That would save us some serious monies in cab bills. On the way he chatted with my colleague and my colleague asked him questions about his family and other general stuff like the weather. The two had known each other for two years since my American colleague started his quarterly trips to India.

It felt good to see the bond between the American and this smiling man from India’s vast lower class. The driver spoke in broken English but managed to make himself understood. He had been talking English for some time now and was fairly good at it.

My colleague told me of the drivers sister’s wedding and how he had contributed to it by buying the wedding saree and some jewelry. It had helped the family a lot and they had become family friends.

We drove into the Oberoi and I watched as the driver quickly retrieved the bags and deposited it with the bell boy. Shaking my colleague’s hands and bidding him good night and promising him to pick him up in the morning, the driver came back to the car. He got in looked around and asked me tersely where I wanted to be dropped. The sudden change in tone of this amiable man was startling. He drove out quietly when I gave him my address. I asked him a few questions about the road near my house that was under repair. I wanted to avoid it. First he refused to answer and then when I repeated the question snapped that it was still under repair. I asked him to bypass the road and gave him directions to the bypass. He replied rudely that if he was going to deviate then it would cost me more. By this time I had had enough and snapped that if he charged me more than whole days hire rate then he can find himself another company to work for.

He fell silent. A few yards away from my house he stopped the car and asked me to get out. I refused and told him to drop me to the gate. He drove to the gate a couple of hundred yards from where we had stopped grumbling under his breath.

I got out and he opened the boot sullenly. I removed my bag and thanked him. He replied by banging the cover of the hood with a thud and getting into the car without looking back.

As he drove away I couldn’t help marveling at his change in behavior because I was Indian. And it is not only me but a whole lot of my colleagues who report the same behavior by cab drivers and another people associated with the hospitality industry. Let us just say that we Indians are second class citizens in a certain sector of the economy now :)

23 comments:

Kartik said...

Deja vu ...

scorpiogenius said...

Did he get any 'tip' from the foreigner? May be he was pissed he didn't get any.

mathew said...

have noticed similar behaviour at restaurants where all the waiters go gaga over a gora visitor!! we are a society comfortably racist!! :-/

dr.antony said...

I am used to this kind of behavior here.no one listens if you shout for anything here.But the malayali boys will run to the car of the Arab,the moment it is outside the shop.We only know to be slaves of foreigners.

The Brown Vagabond said...

We discriminate against our own people and waste no efforts in screaming at other countries if they discriminate against us.

sandeep said...

shocking! and yes ... i've seen similar behaviour from people in restaurants, especially in tourist locations, usually frequented by foreigners! they treat indians like 2nd class even though we pay the same.

Ashish Gupta said...

Very prominent in Goa! Foreigners aplenty, and Indians fewer. And god forbid if you don' drink....

viSHwAmiTHraN said...

i saw my boss in that taxi driver! :)

Pradeep said...

Just wondering if in other countries too such things happen.

Like, when I have been abroad to different countries, the hosts have been extremely courteous and kind, and I have come back with very good impression about the people of the country I visited.

And after such trips, all of us have the habit of making comparisons... how good it's in the US, London, Singapore, etc... some of which are valid, others not.

It has always struck me whether people in foreigner nations would be so kind and courteous to people of their own country, like they are to us.

We all go that extra mile to impress people from outside our circle. We tend to take people within our circle for granted.

Pradeep said...

Just wondering if in other countries too such things happen.

Like, when I have been abroad to different countries, the hosts have been extremely courteous and kind, and I have come back with very good impression about the people of the countries I have visited.

And after such trips, all of us have the habit of making comparisons... how good it's in the US, London, Singapore, Tokyo etc... some of which are valid, others not.

It has always struck me whether people in other nations would be so kind and courteous to people of their own country, like they are to us when we visit them.

We all go that extra mile to impress people from outside our circle. We tend to take people within our circle for granted.

Anjali, to be fair to your observation, I must say that where we differ from other nations, probably, is the extent and nature to which we take people of our circle for granted.

silverine said...

Karthik: Another one I see! :)

Scorpiogenius: His attitude changed the moment my American colleague got off. He didn't even want a tip from me. He made that obvious by stomping off.

Mathew: Very true, sadly!

dr antony: That is positively racist, or the Arabs tip well :) But it still doesn't explain the rudeness towards Indians.

The Brown vagabond: Very true! Remind sme of that episode where an Aussie/Kiwi RJ called the Ganga a gutter because it is filthy and the Indians in his country made him apologize.

Sandeep: Very true. And it is not like the Indians are rude. I have seen the most polite Indians getting abused.

Ashish: In Goa it is a crime to be an Indian. Period. And this attitude is fostered by the people who cater to the tourist Industry who are mainly a floating population from outside Goa.

Viswamithran: That is sad!

Pradeep: I travel a lot abroad and these past two years I have been to the US itself about 8 times. I dont find this attitude anywhere. It is only in Pakistan that Indians get treated well. And it is true. I have been in transit in Pakistan and the experience was amazing :) Very nice people.

Diwakar said...

So true... its pathetic that we Indians discriminate ourselves from these "firang" junta :(

RK said...

Its all about money! Indians know they cant get a penny more from another one. ;)
oh, btw, Am an Indian too.

Hariprasad said...

Hmm...that was very rude on the part of the driver. Luckily, I haven't had such an experience so far.

In fact, there were instances when the driver was extra courteous. Once I was travelling in Delhi and this auto guy started the vehicle demanding Rs10 above normal fare. But during the journey I struck up a conversation with him and by the time I reached my place he became very friendly. He accepted the normal fare saying I was a guest to him since I was from Kerala. There was also one instance back in Cochin when an auto driver refused to let me get in the auto because a bus was supposed to come in about 2 mins. So he told me to wait and not waste money on auto fare!

But, yes, most auto/cab drivers are a pain when it comes to demanding normal fare.

Good post! :)

Renu said...

We Indians value white complexion and money only.

WSW said...

I think in most cases it has nothing to do with complexion or being white..its just about money..Foreigners tip and they tip better thats all! In this case dont know why he was rude from word go..

silverine said...

Diwakar: Sadly, we still have the colonial hangover.

Hariprasad: You are lucky. Nowadays you get really good auto drivers in Blr after the govt gave permission for more autos. Lots of older men driving autos and they are very decent.

Renu: I am noticing this in the people in the tourist sector actually.

WSW: Indians in the tourism sector are definitely biased towards the whites. They don't even want tips from Indians.

Anonymous said...

Great writing! Was looking for some representative Indian blogs and ran into yours.

As a blogger of substance, what would your reaction be to the new blogging regulations ( http://www.dnaindia.com/india/analysis_get-the-govt-to-review-new-it-rules_1556042 ) ? Would you or other fellow bloggers have some say (or something to say) in these matters ? What level is this being worked in the community ? See also http://expressbuzz.com/opinion/editorials/cyber-offences-of-basic-rights/224476.html and http://churumuri.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/say-no-to-indias-blogger-control-act/ vis-a-vis China: http://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/internet/what-are-you-allowed-to-say-on-chinas-social-networks ) ?
-Holle

Elizabeth said...

I am an NRI and was visiting Mumbai on work with 2 of my foreign colleagues. The hotel had arranged for transportation, and when the driver met us, he immediately saluted my colleagues, and grabbed their bags, while I was left to carry my own. :) The funny thing was I was the only woman in the group, and my colleagues had lighter bags.

Jay said...

Many of these cab drivers are also not treated properly so it could be their indifference after a bad experience. Just a thought!

silverine said...

Anon: Let us see them implement it!

Elizabeth: And that is the attitude that I was trying to highlight in this post. It is not just money or tips that makes the difference.Its plain racism by our own people :)

Jay: I am afraid I don't believe that. Cab drivers don't take things lying down anymore.

loop said...

This behavior is rampant among indians living in the US too. I have noticed so many of my Indian acquaintances fawn over the Americans and treat other Indians with near contempt!

Good Life said...

This was s good post, and yes it happens so often in Bangalore! :)
BTW, liked your blog!!!