Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Meeting Racism

Well, had the first brush with racism, officially.
Was wondering where it was, lurking within the multicultural sea.
It didn't come with chains and swear words or tattoo marks.
Nor was it brash or young.

It was in the shape of a feeble old man, in a route 21 bus.
Self was travelling with the usual donkey's baggage of camera and its relatives.There was a seat next to the old man. So asked him mildly, "could you please move a bit?". [He can move his legs a bit and self can get in.].  He got up with some difficulty and left the seat altogether, mumbling beneath his breath in the most mild whispering manner

"...coming here and making people move from their seats...young foreigners...they should go back to where they came from...[contd]..."

Was appalled, agitated and couldn't believe my ears for a while. And, the mumbling was going on  at the same monotone. And, it was coming from a feeble old otherwise 'respectable' mouth, while the hand held a cane and the head had a  nondescript cap.

A mumbling whisper, not loud, not angry-just calm placid tone,but perfectly audible to me.

Felt like shouting and then for some strange reason crying. Both would be pointless and even ludicrous. How do you shout at a man as old as death, hardly able to move? And how do you let a horrid old man with  pungent hate in his tongue make you burst into tears in a route 21 bus?

It isn't the first time that anyone asked /requested me to go back to where I came from. In Bombay, amidst haggling about the fare, an autorickshaw driver lost his temper and shouted similar words. However, self was in no way appalled or agitated. The idea that Bombay should be only for people from Bombay [whoever they were] was a bit too comical to digest. How will it be, when no one, but 'the original inhabitants' of a city can enter it? The little republic of Bombay, cleaned of all 'other kinds of Indians'.
Carried the feeble old man's horrid little words through the maze of tube lines and ticket points.
May be, should have blurted out 'facts'. Is paying  2 times more  than what the native students pay. Came in after all the paper eating regulatory Gods were satisfied. Is contributing to the recovery of English economy by  renting an obscenely priced shoe box room and eating exorbitantly expensive [mostly] bad food. And, the old man's 'relatives' have come into 'my' parts of the world with zero papers and gun powder not too long ago.

But, how do you deal with some thing as intangible as hate with facts?
A land for one kind of people. 'Clean' the streets of every body else. Send back whoever came from wherever.
First.. .........Africans, Indians, Chinese.......
Then............Poles, Australians, Canadians ....
....................Normans, whoever else........

The day ended on a good note , after eating a perfectly made soul uplifting chicken biriyani [horribly priced of course] in a Bangladeshi eatery. Remembered the lines from an anti hate story.
"If 'we' all go away, what will 'they' eat?"
Probably, potatoes cooked in different ways.

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