Shiva devotee
A Spiritual People: Feb. 16th
One of the couples that we have become friends with recently are reverse expatriates; they have left India and are living in Boston. They joke about American and Japanese impressions of India - "The Indians are so peaceful, they’re such a spiritual people".
This has been a tough week for me, due to the turmoil at Apple, and the issues in getting our legal approvals from the Indian government. To top it off, I have been "on alert" at home due to a host of petty theft problems with our expat friends and ourselves. I am feeling anything but spiritual.
When we first moved into our house, we experienced some minor thefts. We learnt to be more cautious, and to lock up after ourselves. Recently we had Sue’s pruning shears and bicycle lock taken from our garage when I had left the door open and unsupervised. Sue and I felt like amateur detectives — who had the motive and opportunity? We quickly jumped to the conclusion that it was our EX-security guard Ramesh, who had a strong interest in pruning trees, who had access to the garage, and who probably felt he deserved a going away "remembrance". It paralleled our last month’s experience with Nagaraj, our other guard, who was removed for sexual harassment. Nagaraj quietly took my winter jacket with him, and it required a call to Raja, his boss, to get it back.
The experience with another ferangi (foreigner) friend was worse. They left the house and came back a few weeks later to notice that most of the liquor had evaporated. The most expensive evaporation was a $600 bottle of brandy. I don’t think the guilty sipper could have even conceived of a bottle that was worth a year and a half of their salary. Then a week later the ex-pat left her room, with 6000 rupees ($170) in her purse, and came back only to notice that 1000 rupees had disappeared. Our friend had had it; she promptly marched the two servants upstairs and strip-searched them both. Then their rooms were searched. The money remained missing.
Aghast at the concept of strip searching servants, I asked my Indian friends what they would do. The answer - "Straight away report it to the police". This is not a casual act. Police are notoriously corrupt and brutal. What the police routinely do is to round up and beat all the servants, innocent and guilty. Many prisoners are arrested in healthy conditions, but end up in need of serious medical care when released from the station. On mentioning, to my Indian friends, that this seemed a rather inhumane way to find the truth I was told "That’s ok, it’s done in the police station, not in your house."
Now I know what vegetarians feel when meat-eaters tell them its ok to eat chicken because its butchered at the factory. I’m also beginning to feel the real dimensions of the relationship between Indian employers and servants. Ah yes, "The Indians are so peaceful, they’re such a spiritual people".