July 13, 2024

Incredible India!

I read today – Tourism ministry hires 15 agencies for Rs 70 cr Incredible India campaign

And remembered what Harini, TV producer, blog mela host and friend told me a few days about why she hates Rajasthan …. the way men just look at you there and say you, aurrrrrrat

And there is another reason I dislike Rajasthan – oh, its a beautiful magical place alright – but that state never fails to amaze and dismay me with its orientation towards foreign tourists… at the exclusion of ‘locals’ (or is the word ‘natives’?)

This happened last October on a holiday in Rajasthan – I had made reservations at a haveli-type-hotel in Jodhpur – because we were travelling with an elderly family friend… I had found this place and booked on the net. We reached in the middle of the night ——-
and many unpleasant hours later, the manager told us that we could leave if we did not like the place – and he said, this is the problem with you Indians… And why – were we creating any nuisance – no, but we were complaining about the fact that the waiters at the restaurant had taken our order and then not served us – at all…

And oh, he was a Rajasthani… not “Indian”, mind you – Rajasthani… And this was in Jodhpur, India.

And the argument started…. And things only got better (in hindsight, things always seem better – because by then you think they are funny…)

The manager continued, if I had known that you were Indians, I would not have given you bookings here… After which of course, there was no point in arguing – what does one say? And as we came out, the auto driver who took us in search of another hotel told us, par aap yahan kaise pahunch gaye? woh loge to sirf firangi ko andar aane dete hain… (how did you reach this place? they allow only foreigners inside…)

Ok, so we didn’t get thrown out of the railway compartment – but then we weren’t in South Africa either… This was India in 2004….

Incredible India alright.

And this is something I had written long ago on my previous blog…

The colours of racism

Have you always, like me, associated racism with ‘white’ ?

Read this very interesting article by Martin Jacques in the Guardian, The Global Hierarchy Of Race.

Racism, he points out, is not the ‘prerogative’ of the whites although they are on top of the pile. In various rungs lower down are the yellows, the browns and various other colours of the spectrum.

A veritable race rainbow ?

The one thing in common is, he points out, is denial as the natural response to any society to insinuations of racism. Nations are never honest about themselves: they are all in varying degrees of denial.

A friend of mine was in Korea recently and has lots of stories of discrimination…. Koreans consider themselves superior to Indians and other South Asians…. basis what, please? You can be called Paki in the UK or jihadi in the US…. But then, why am I talking about the whites ? Closer home, in a country dangerously obsessed with skin tone, you can be called a dark madrasi…

Racism obviously begins at home….

Update : Tarun asks me why I am “afraid” to mention the name of the guesthouse in this post here – as I replied to him, it just didn’t occur to me – and the point was not about this particular guesthouse but the general attitude in the place – some of the localites later told us that there were many such small hotels/guesthouses which catered only to foreigners – no harm in that I guess, except I wish they would mention this clearly in their website / at the time of making reservations. Incidentally and not at all surprisingly, such places ara rated very high in the lonely planets and rough guides of the world – but clearly, we were not the target audience for these guides.

This place is called Haveli Guesthouse and believe me, the place is nowhere like these pictures on their website suggests.

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