First Interaction with Blatant Racism

This may was the first time I flew internationally, you know, got my passport stamped for the first time. It wasn’t as exciting as I had been dreaming it up to be, but that is a story for another day.

Anyway, my mother and I boarded our Qantas flight from New Delhi to Wellington, with two stopovers. The arduous journey put a strain on my mother who got air sick and vomited on the Singapore to Melbourne flight.

On our check-in at Melbourne, she was completely fine, since at this moment, she had been on ground for more than 4 hours and had a fitful sleep, enough to stave off the nausea due to travelling (important to note that we always get sick on journeys). On our check-in, we both forgot to ask for aisle seat. We had been travelling for more than 24 hours at this point and a combination of terrible flight food and mild nausea (on my part) we were tired and in that weird limbo where you feel hungry but don’t feel like eating anything.

Anyway, our flight to Wellington was pretty empty, I boarded without any trouble. My mother, in her naivety, mentioned to the air hostess that she had been vomiting (language trouble, she should have said air sick). They didn’t let her board the flight. I got down to see what the trouble was and tried to explain she meant air-sickness. They didn’t let her board the flight. I asked 3 different people if we would be charged for rebooking the flight, they all said no. A very clear no. I know what I asked and heard since we were carrying little cash on us as most of the money we would need had been wired a week earlier in my relative’s account (who stay in New Zealand).

Since there was no doctor on that airport (was supposed to be there, have picture to prove it), they sent my mother, a person who has never travelled internationally, out in Melbourne all by herself. Important to mention that our phones weren’t working without Wifi either. I had to stay behind with our luggage.

After she came back (somehow, thank you Melbourne people for helping her), the Qantas people refused to rebook us without money even after assuring us they would. Their supervisor threatened to “deport” us, called us liars who devised the plan to get aisle seats (as if, we both always prefer window seat for the view and it is easier to sleep there) and was overall very rude. She refused to see us with our context, that there was a language barrier regardless of the fact that we can speak English, fact is, we speak English with the context of India. Overall, she was a bitch.

Our relatives had to pay for us that day. Something that greatly embarrassed us. For two people who were going to a new country for the first time, it was an awful experience. We complained and got a refund (nothing more) even though I personally think they should have upgraded our seats for our flight booked back to India if they really felt sorry.

So, in short, fuck Qantas. Horrible people. Airlines these days are dehumanising customers, only seeing them as money machines. I honestly hope I never have to fly Qantas again, and I am writing this as a warning for others, Singapore Airlines is much better, and comparable prices.

Choose wisely.

The marriage between riots and rumours

The early morning of 15th of February, Haryana Roadways decided to do something different; they took a nausea inducing route to Delhi with me on board. But I reached on time, was introduced to a different identity of Delhi; one with open fields and empty spaces that were somewhat out of DDLJ.

Regardless of the beauty of early morning mists settling in fields, few kilometres away, few protestors had blocked the main route between Rohtak and Delhi. Nothing alarming, it was known beforehand that they would, to put pressure on the current state government to include few more castes in the quota system. I was already making plans to go back to my hometown, or get my family to visit me in Delhi since I was irritated shopping alone for all the women in the family (our tastes just don’t match, and Lajpat has horrible 3G connectivity to conduct a back and forth of designs).

What I didn’t know was that in the coming week, I would become familiar with fear and worry like only my mother felt when I travelled alone. The agitation for Jat reservation would spread like wildfire in the coming week, but more importantly, that wildfire would be led by rumours that had only basis in fear and to incite violence and hatred among different communities.

Schools were closed, curfew imposed, mobile internet shut down, and roads were blocked, effectively sealing in a large part of the population. Then the riots started. When I talked to my mother on 17th, she had an inkling that things would get worse; some people had died and the situation had turned sinister.

That is when I started worrying and it didn’t help that for aesthetics and natural light, we had decided on large glass windows for our house. This was a time when I was calling my family numerous times a day, scared of their well-being, hoping everyone remains unscathed. Then the pictures of shops I regularly visited started floating on social media, now all burnt or looted, or both. The city I was born in, grew up in, was in flames. In midst of this mayhem, I found out that residential colonies had taken it upon themselves to protect their loved ones and properties. My father, along with several other people were strategising how to ward off people of the “other” community if there were an attack. The “other” community was waiting of “this” community with similar trepidation.

Someone had heard someone else say that their friend’s first cousin’ uncle knew it for a fact that “disturbing” elements were trying to burn houses of their perceived “enemies”. Some people had even been rushed to the hospital. Since the state protective machinery was nowhere in sight, it was up to local people to defend themselves against this “threat” and this was the story of nearly every residential area. Everyone was scared of the attackers, but where were the attackers? This is not to say everything was a rumour, people lost their lives and property, their businesses and their livelihoods, but the atmosphere of fear was being perpetuated by rumours. My Whatsapp was constantly flooded by rumours of attacks, some near my home, which on placing frantic calls to my mother, were completely denied by her.

This word of mouth game succeeded in tearing the fragile social fabric of my hometown, succeeded in creating distrust among people and succeeded in keeping my father awake and vigilant till early morning hours for fear of their safety.

Vintage Ads

These are some of my favourite vintage ads (least misogynistic). I love the explanations, the expressions and the art which is so beautiful in some of them. They don’t make them like that anymore. Credit to whoever found, scanned or however put them up on the internet and of course to those who designed them.

“Listen…

1. “Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.”

2. “Oh, but you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.”

Dennis the peasant to King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Confusion, frustrations and other preoccupations

I have returned, returned after some excruciatingly long months without my beloved laptop. All options had been exhausted and I had plans to buy a new one but surprisingly, I wanted my old one back. Surprising because I’m usually very tempted by the new craze on the tech block but this time, nothing was able to get my attention. The search for a new laptop was terrifying, filled with dread at the myriad of choices and a hurriedness because my laptop had become indispensable in my studies. I had resigned myself to buy something cheap and effective but then like light shines through an overcast sky (the inverted imagery would be more suited for me as overcast, gloomy, grey skies make me happy, but you get the idea), my old laptop breathed a new life and all was well again (except for a few minor hitches of how callous the repair guys could be with it, not complaining much though).

This week has been good. My favourite uncle and cousin are visiting, I have 6ish months left before I get out, I found the Dark Chocolate I’ve come to love in an unexpected place (Thanks Ambani), I re-discovered my love for Football and there’s so much of it around to keep me preoccupied and I have my laptop. Now I can spend my savings on a new phone (One Plus One is my current choice if you wanted to know).

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