Confusing elitism with obnoxious – a Delhi golf club in dire need of a Dictionary

I recently became friends with a New Delhi resident who spent an hour, and six hundred rupees on three cups of coffee (notable detail post GST) convincing two other people that Delhites are not the arrogant and irreverent lot they are made out to be. The guy was believable too, given his amiable disposition. But disposition and debate goes to the dump when an elite establishment in the capital does something as disgraceful – and sadly not even surprising coming from them – as evicting a person from its premises owing to their ethnicity.

The only thing that comes close to sounding as pretentiousness as a golf club in India is probably the mannerisms of a gathering at a Turf Club for a derby in the same country. I guess that counts as a win for some. If you are already not aware of the details of the incident in focus, here they are –  on 25th of June, a north-east Indian woman, Tailin Lyngdoh, was asked to leave a golf club she was at as a guest of a long term member of the establishment, all because her clothes didn’t suit the taste of two staff members there. According to them, her attire could be perceived as a maid’s uniform, a class of people (I’m hoping they are considered humans at least) who do nothing but contaminate whichever level of atmosphere these two assume the wealthy inhabit.

 (Lyngdoh, and the Golf Club)

The attire which wrinkled the staff members’ noses was a Jainsem – the traditional dress of women of the Khasi tribe from Meghalaya. I wonder what the staff members were wearing – it would be interesting to understand the type of apartheid they were subjecting Lyngdoh to. If in western clothes, they did a marvellous job of being a stand in of their long departed sahibs. If in sari or kurta pajama/dhoti (this is an unnecessary sentence), they were trying eagerly to fill the void the sahibs left behind with a nationalised form of sartorial caste system.

In an attempt to present themselves to be above the ordinary, they did something the most average Indian is known to do -jugaad. No evidence of a written rule to deny access to a guest specifically owing to their choice of garment representative of any particular state or community has been furnished to support their brash action. The staff basically jugaad-oed this arbitrary code of conduct out of thin air.

A similar incident had occurred in a Kolkata restaurant some time ago when a driver was denied the right to avail its services. It created a backlash and a trending hashtag on social media, but it also had its share of supporters. The Golf Club incident could look in the darkest corners of hell but wouldn’t find anyone to defend it in their right mind because not only was it motivated by a class distinction, it was also besmirched with racism. An added excuse given was that the Lyongdoh looked Nepali.

It’s funny how they thought they couldn’t bear the presence of one Nepali among them without considering the massive self-restraint that one Nepali could be putting herself through to not balk in the face of so many non-Nepalies. Racism can be a two way street, right?

   -by Zaiceka Ahmed

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