Friday, May 19, 2006

The Air Conditioning and Oxford Press in Chennai…!

I do not know, where should I place the following blog as to what I am going to say. I wish it should not be considered as whining of an America returned freak or indecently dressed up guy who tried to show up in front of a prestigious press in the world. In spite of that, I wish it could be seen under a new shade, why we behave the way we behave, and why we tend to ill treat our own population?

Let me go on explain now what had happened to me when I was in Chennai last May’05. I was there along with my parents and my fiancée for an enquiry which I intended to do for my parents with the American Consulate the one at Chennai by Gemini Circle. Having gotten an appointment with the officials, we had left with almost three hours to kill. Since, already we experienced with the Consulate that treated people like a bunch of herds chasing around with a stick by yelling “go there,” “do not stand here,” orders, I was in a kind of irritant mood already.

Anyway, having herded and cornered away under a tree where so many people were already sweating and panting, standing there. Tired of looking at that situation, I was just innocently looking around for a place to get in and do some browsing or sitting and having a cup of juice or something.

Eventually, the Oxford Press close by fell in my mind, in fact, I had been in there for a couple times before. Therefore, it is not like something that place was new to me. So, along with my parents we started walking toward it; just before we could approach the main door, the watch man stood in our way interrogating us why do we want to get in there.

I could not hold it anymore, and asked him straight, what is wrong in going inside a book store and why are you asking us that question etc., He looked obviously puzzled, confused and just started startling not knowing what to say next. However, he came up with an answer, yet, that was so shameful on us.

The answer was, he said, “mostly people who walk in here just wanting to be in the Air Conditioning not to buy books.” I could not go on, hold on to this nonsense anymore, again I asked him in what value you justify who is a potential shopper from who is not? How do you know that I am not going to buy any books?

So the conversation went on like that for about a few minutes, by the time, in spite of my parental request not to question the watchman anymore, my fiancée just walked in and joined us. Upon hearing that what was really going on simply she could not believe what she was hearing. She burst into rage doubly, since she grew up mostly in the Western hemisphere. She lamented over it by saying, just because of the Air Conditioning that they provide in the facility they are preventing people from get access to a book store. That is ridiculous and unbelievable. On top of it, she wanted to go in and see the book store’s manager and talk to her in person. However, the watchmen pleaded her not to do it. I wonder why.

Hence, here is a question for all of us. What is wrong with the picture? Where do we go wrong with how we treat our own population? I understand, the Air Conditioning is a rare commodity still in our country. However, I do not think that a book store should treat people just like the American Consulate treat the herds.

I believe any book store is like an open worship place, I mean, it is equal to a mosque, a church or a temple. If the book store does not need a reader why in the world we should have those many books or for that case the writer himself sits there spend all his time writing. If his thoughts and concerns are not crossing the border, why he should go through the pain of sharing?

I just amazed as to what happened to us that day, along with came a lot of questions too. When are we going to change our attitude about ourselves, treating us fairly believing in as Indians are also can be educated and decent, no matter how he/she looks? The another question impeccably sneaked in my mind was, obviously the watchman might not have stopped a white man if he intends to do exactly what the watch man earlier asking us if we were going there for the Air Conditioning, would he?

If that was case then somewhere along the line our thought processes are flawed, isn‘t it? How are we going to fix this? Obviously, I can not peel my skin off or pretend someone that I am not in order to spend my money. It is not only happening in that book store it is everywhere, at the bank, railway reservation booths, worshipping places, even in universities and colleges mistreating students and calling them names. Are we people or herds of animals? Where are we doing wrong?

I believe we can change the whole attitude of our approach with our own population by self-valuing ourselves, that we are worth living, and appreciating ourselves a bit. And behaving ourselves how we ought to behave. If we can not do that, does that mean, are we having a long way to go, to cultivate and to appreciate our own existence on this planet, us as Indians, then?


Sivabalan said...

I do understand your feeling. I feel sorry for whatever happend to you at that place.

It is really shameful on the book store part.

As a Civil Engg, I know the AC system works in building and FYI the cost of operating is very less than our personal house AC.

I do not know why they have behaved like this. The mangement people must be stupid.

AC will be under maintenance contract for every year. so it is not big deal for a book store to maintain AC. I am really feel bad about it.

Orani said...

Thank you Mr. Sivabalan, for the concern you had. I placed that piece of experience of mine to just wake up the other people if it all they face a situation like this one.

We should not hesitate to defend and teach a lesson to them, so that, next time they will think twice before how they interact with the public.

//I do not know why they have behaved like this. The mangement people must be stupid.//

I sort of have an idean where they could have copied that behavior. The next door neighbor is the consulate, they themselves treat the people like that, then why we should not, perhaps that(?).

Overall, it is a shame on the Management as you said. In fact, the management should encourage those consulate bystanders and waiting people to walk in and take a look at the book collection. In spite of it, they are herding away too... does it make any sense?


Herodito said...

Ty for the invitation.

You know, about this story, is actually interesting how the AC commodity, intended to attract more business, actually became a problem to attract people, because situations like yours.

Then again, this point of view was probably out of the scope of the guard.

Orani said...


Thanks man for stopping by. Are you from Costa Rica?

It seems like you understood exactly the core of the problem ;-)


Anonymous said...

I too faced many situations like this. Don't know why our people mistreat our own brothers.