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. Weâ€™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 Iâ€™d enter, knowing I was the only Indian in the group (I donâ€™t even have a famous relative or an uncle in the ministry), I kept fretting all evening, but was reassured by my friends that theyâ€™d get me in as a guest, saying, â€śHey, you can be my +1.â€ť
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 â€śred stampsâ€ť are allowed to the â€śprivate partyâ€ť. My outraged American-Indian friend stormed downstairs screaming â€śracist b@$#@%&sâ€ť 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 â€śwhite-is-rightâ€ť 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 â€ścosmopolitan and modernâ€ť New Delhi, a city where I am treated as a second-class citizen. The innate allure of the â€śgora-faceâ€ť, 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 â€śOh come on! Stop haggling on their behalf; let us earnâ€ť, but in the elite too who consider bringing a â€śforeignâ€ť 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, Iâ€™m usually the one standing in line asking the manager why I canâ€™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 â€śIncredible Indiaâ€ť, the epitome of cultural diversity, and seek answers.
Oh and you there, feeling so high and mighty about yourself and believing â€śOh Iâ€™m not a racistâ€ť, think about it. Would you be as comfortable with your son or daughter bringing a Black friend home as with a Caucasian friend? Idealistically itâ€™d be the same, as I thought. But what happens in real-life situations is never purely black or white.
As for me, Iâ€™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 writerâ€™s own)