Not being taken seriously

Every sunday my favourite park, Lodhi Gardens, is littered in a nice, secluded area, where a large bench is running around a big tree. Polystyrene cups lie next to plastic plates, cutlery together with plastic bags and napkins with spoilt food. This can only mean one thing: A lot of people have breakfast there on the weekends.

Today morning I walked over to ask the huge group why they always leave such a mess behind. Why they can’t take home what they brought. Or at least walk the couple of meters to the next dustbin. If they don’t think the park belonged to everyone (we can hardly do our Parkour training at the spot after they leave).

Before I hadn’t even finished asking all these questions, the big, bearded man with the scoop in his hand and the bowl in front of him started replying. But instead of speaking to me, he addressed Siddharth next to me, who hadn’t said a word before, but had made a point in accompanying me for the confrontation. The other Parkour fellows looked from afar.

For the next couple of minutes, the bearded Sikh told Siddharth in an “I blow you away tone”, that the group hired a guy to clean up after them. He kept on emphasizing that the guy was well paid by receiving Rs 100. He then said they would be more strict with the garbage guy.

Not once during this self-righteous reply did he look at me. Not once did he make any gesture towards me. Not once did he pause so that Siddharth could translate. He didn’t even gave me a nod when Siddharth and I said goodbye.

Part of this might be due to the fact that he wasn’t well-versed in English and prefered to reply in Hindi, and this to the guy who looked more like he understood it. We don’t know, as he made no effort to speak any. But he perfectly understand what I was telling him in English.

I strongly believe it has more to do with the fact that I’m a girl and Siddharth a boy. A similar situation happened recently when I went to the cinema. It was a very posh one, so we could order during the movie. I rang the bell, I asked the waiter for a popcorn, I got the popcorn delivered – but then the bill was brought to the guy the friend sitting next to me.

It’s all about who you are – or pretend to be

Status matters in India. A lot. So I’m not surprised that a gang leader, disguised as a lawyer, could just walk past all the security checks at Rohini court in Delhi without being stopped. If he just looked like he entered through the lawyer’s gate every day without flashing his card, he for sure didn’t have much problems.

As the “Times of India” reports, the guy was wearing the black mantle of a lawyer, when he and nine other men set out to kill a rival gangster on the court premises. “He carried a couple of  ‘case files’ which contained two pistols and stood outside the courtroom waiting for the target,” the article reads.

But the police was second to none. “Around 11am, at least 100 men from the special cell armed with Glock pistols spread across the court premises. A few were dressed as lawyers, others as litigants, while some pretended to be ‘bad characters’, walking around with shirt buttons open,” the paper reports.

Sharing the story with my colleague, he tells me that while researching stories, he sometimes only says he’s “calling from Delhi”, when he tries to get an official or manager on the phone. The office assistances or secretaries then assume he’s calling from the headquarters or the branch in Delhi and transfer the call – which they otherwise often wouldn’t.

Every now and then, he also profits from some misunderstanding. More than once he correctly introduced himself as “calling from the German Press Agency”, and the call got transferred, him being introduced as someone “from the German Presidency”.

But back to the security guys: I also always look super-confident and if I knew where I was going when I enter business houses or civil servant’s offices. Most of the time, no guard stops me. Otherwise they would get out a huge big book where I have to write down all my details (including visa number) or, worse, ask for some permission from someone.

A diplomat friend even made it a point to ignore the ever-present metal detectors in front of hotels and other premises. She never placed her bag on the belt and just walked pass the body scanner. She always got away with it. But in case some guard would’ve taken his job seriously, she would’ve flashed her diplomatic pass, of course.


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