+1 Indian not welcome | Tushar M

+1 Indian not welcome

Illustration: Uzma Mohsin

By Tushar M

So it was just about last night that a bunch of my expat friends and I decided to drop by to this well known club in South Delhi to celebrate one of the friends’ birthday. We’d already had a nice dinner at a sweet restaurant, were down a glass of wine, or two, and headed to this club. Apprehensive about how I’d enter, knowing I was the only Indian in the group (I don’t even have a famous relative or an uncle in the ministry), I kept fretting all evening, but was reassured by my friends that they’d get me in as a guest, saying, “Hey, you can be my +1.”

You know the stamps they put on you when you enter a club? Well, somehow out of the six of us who entered, three got a red stamp and three got a blue one. I, an American friend of Indian origin, and a Thai friend were stopped at the second level upstairs, being told that only people with “red stamps” are allowed to the “private party”. My outraged American-Indian friend stormed downstairs screaming “racist b@$#@%&s” and argued with the manager, while my Thai friend looked completely puzzled. And I stood there, shaking my head in despair, watching how messed up that whole situation was.

Post-colonial India still has remnants of the “white-is-right” mindset, deeply embedded in the collective psyche of a nation whose citizens call themselves extremely patriotic and believe in forcefully playing the national anthem every time a movie starts at a multiplex. It is extremely hazardous to my idealism, as a young adult, when I see blatant hypocrisy all around me, in the very “cosmopolitan and modern” New Delhi, a city where I am treated as a second-class citizen. The innate allure of the “gora-face”, as many of my Caucasian friends tell me they are referred to by Indians, is not only embodied in the hawkers who make it a point to whisper to me “Oh come on! Stop haggling on their behalf; let us earn”, but in the elite too who consider bringing a “foreign” friend to a wedding an auspicious thing. Reducing the unassuming foreigner to the status of a lucky charm or PR tool as well as demeaning their fellow countrymen, and in turn themselves, quite unknowingly.

More often than not, at the best clubs in town, I’m usually the one standing in line asking the manager why I can’t enter even though I am more than willing to pay the entry fee, while a Caucasian couple just walks in and is greeted with smiles. We are a racist people, but we find it okay to cry foul when someone else discriminates against us. I too introspect at times and find out how years of conditioning during childhood have led to me being automatically wary of people with darker skin; I question my upbringing in “Incredible India”, the epitome of cultural diversity, and seek answers.

Oh and you there, feeling so high and mighty about yourself and believing “Oh I’m not a racist”, think about it. Would you be as comfortable with your son or daughter bringing a Black friend home as with a Caucasian friend? Idealistically it’d be the same, as I thought. But what happens in real-life situations is never purely black or white.

As for me, I’ll just hang around. Waiting. In my own country, just another +1.

Tushar M is an idealistic 22 year old guy from Delhi who is working with LGBTQ youth issues, while trying to figure out a future.

(The views expressed in this column are the writer’s own)

(The views expressed in this column are the writer’s own)

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  • http://Website A George

    Good article. Well balanced views. Keep up the good work. Wish the club was named and shamed.

  • http://Website Ash

    Its true i live in Copenhagen an the Many times in the door man stops i consiser it as racist but its the same when i am in goa or Mumbai or Delhi or b’lore more the White skin are let in my own country what would i say is that racism too

  • http://Website rahul
  • http://Website Anil

    I agree with you that we Indians are racists, i have suffered the same a lot of times. But there is a strong reason behind it. We Indians are traditionally a reserved society, and a lot of things are a taboo in India. For example Delhi and Mumbai are very cosmopolitan, but kissing is public breaks the moral code of conduct. Moreover our society is composed of different people. there are people who would easily blend with the whites whereas others who would keep staring at them, especially the white women. Money is out of question because a lot of Indians without a decent high school education have a lot of money to spend. I don’t support racism but i guess in a complicated society like ours, it becomes a necessary evil. But that is just my opinion!

    • http://Website Sudhir

      I agree with your comment.

  • http://Website Shiv D

    Well written!

  • http://Website Arif S

    Why dont we all start boycotting similar clubs in delhi and other cities…we may go dry for months..but justice will be served..
    we can start with a website naming those clubs…www.shamedclubs.com

  • http://Website Deepak

    All life is a game.Learn to play along.The racist guy just taught you something.Instead of fixating and suffering over it (apologies if my assumption is wrong), take this debate to a deeper level as to, do you perceive an xyz person to be more attractive than some abc person..? Whats the deal with this “theory of relativity” ? Hope I helped. All the best bud. You’re gonna do great. No worries.;-)

  • http://Website PK Shafeeque

    We are indians.the great citizen and great peoples.
    We are respected all the culture.we are one.but america and israel they are enemies of the world.they use there brain to use for religional fight.be careful.before israil entering india we muslims and hindus live in peace and love but after israil and america become our connection the story changed they use some of culprit for riot.now the time for muslims and hindus get together love our country we are one.

    • http://Website Sam

      what weed were you smoking?

  • http://Website Marina

    Wow, it’s bad enough being a second-class citizen in another country. But being a second-class citizen in your own country has to top it all doesn’t it.

  • http://Website KK

    Stop complaining about this. It’s your fault you were stopped. You do know that the law (which i’m sure you often complain about) provides for a way for you to stop this. Instead of posting online, why don’t you go to the nearest police station and complain? Instead you choose to ‘stand around waiting’. Good luck.

  • http://Website arvind

    yes we do it all the time. putting everything ‘phoren’ on a pedestal – foreign goods, foreign ‘wisdom’, ‘phoren-return’ engineer, doctor, even plumber and of course foreign education. i can speak for medicine, a field to which i belong – and i’m sure the same applies to any other profession – ‘phoren-return’ is no better or worse than the desi.

  • http://Website Meera Bhat

    Why in the first place do we wish to go to these damned places………….just boycott them…………this is like looking up and spitting

  • http://Website Varun

    Tell the shiv sena about this. Bastards can ransack for a good reason.

  • http://Website Mayuri

    I liked the piece. We still haven’t got over ‘colonial hangover’. Our fascination for ‘phoren’ is evident in people’s phoney accent. I have met people who proudly announce that they think in English and not their mother tongue. I wonder if that is possible. Many of them have never stepped out of India. They still seem to have acquired American/British accents which grates on your ears. It’s time , we valued our worth and rid us of mental slavery.

  • http://Website Upendra Watwe

    The article though well written and balanced, seems like a whimper of a child. The author could have used this forum to bring about a positive change by naming the club rather than just saying rather than “well known club in South Delhi” why hide the name ? Did the club give you some sort of elite privilege for which you should hide its name ? Or is this just a publicity stunt to create a “elitist” image of the club so that the club get crowded by all the neo-rich brown sahibs who hate the rest of white, brown back and all subtle shades in India ?
    The only way to know if this is true is if the author actually names the club in question, if not-let us all ignore this well phrased damp squib of a PR piece for the club.

    • http://Website Tushar M


      My work is to make us think about our own colonial hangover. Clubs will come and clubs will go. Defamation, name-calling, etc. goes on. Let’s try to focus on the innate behavior of the society. The club is immaterial here…it’s just a fraction of all the other stuck ups.

  • http://Website Raza

    in 2009 we 6 guys wanted to go to a pub in Mumbai. before the entrance i was stopped with another friend of mine. rest 4 were allowed.
    we 2 were Indians and 4 were Americans. now what should i make out of it.

  • http://Website Koop

    You should have named the restaurant here, or at least insinuated the name.

  • http://Website Anchit Gupta

    Bromfy is one club in South Delhi that I know indulges in such racist behaviour, is it the same were you faced the situation?

  • http://Website Chacko G

    Well I guess this is the club in GK-1. Things like this have been reported before as well.