Monday, November 21, 2005

Losing my religion.

In the last couple of weeks I have been hearing stories from my friends who happen to be Muslims about the amount of difficulty they have faced when trying to find a house in suburban Bombay. One of them, lets call him Q, is a recent migrant to the city, who has joined as a photographer in a large national publication, he has been told quite clearly that "Muslim party ko ghar nahi dega." Q, who is from Delhi is a bit zapped at just how difficult it is, "Its like they want to force you into little regional ghettos." The concept of a urbane, upper-middle class Muslim is beyond the concept of reality for many closed minded idiots in this city - after all the city did spawn the Shiv Sena.
The problem is that this crisis is particularly bad in the suburbs, something my friend A told me. According to him, not only do they often not give homes to Muslims, even if you were Muslim but happened to be from the wrong sect, finding a house is impossible. A, who is a fairly rich guy, was actually looking to buy a house, in fact, he even said that his parents were prepared to buy and his wife a house, cash down (this is Bombay, after all!) - but when they saw this really nice apartment in an upmarket Bandra Reclamation Society the property agent (who was none the wiser) supposedly told A's mother that the area did not allow 'Pets or Muslims' - I doubt that the agent could have possibly been that tactless - but it is not impossible.
I really don't know how bad this problem is in other cities, but after calling up some friends in Delhi, I was told that the problem exists even in the capital - but it is not so 'in your face'. Up north, Punjabi's from both communities made a concerted effort to rid the planet of Punjabi's almost 60 years ago by killing each other. In Bengal too, bhadralok mentality took a backseat as the division of Bengal first done in 1911 had its tragic endgame begin in 1947 (Of course, closure was only achieved in 1971). However, the Western parts of India were relatively peaceful then, but have tended to flare up disasterously ever since. The worst riots in the recent past (other than in Bihar) have been in supposedly urbane areas in Western India - Bombay (post-Ayodhya, Bomb Blasts etc) and Gujarat (post Godhra) and of course, there were the Congress-party backed disaster in Delhi in 1984.
While, I would tend to agree that Delhi is also a communal time-bomb, the government has done well to ensure that potential flash-points are kept in check. Just look at the old city, one second you are in a virtually 100% Muslim area (complete with rabid imam and all), you cross the road and find yourself in Hindu Heartland (complete with Praveen Togadia wannabes). However, the greatest achievement of successive governments has been to prevent the relatively newer environs of South Delhi get classified as 'Hindu' or 'Muslim' areas. The problem with Bombay I find is that this bent of communalism is practiced in high-class building Societies in Bandra and Andheri - A even told me an interesting story of how they refused a prominent Muslim Bollywood type a house because of his religion.
Strange isn't it, the best bowler in the country is a Muslim, some of the entertainment industry's most feted names are Muslim, but when it comes accepting Muslims as a part of general society, the majority tries to act like the Whites do with African Americans in Yankeeland. Of course, then some governments (inevitably Congress governments) try to screw things up even further by proming religion based reservations. If we are to become an 'inclusive' society, why on earth do we practice the politics of 'exclusion'?
On another note.
I would classify myself as having a Centre-Right disposition. I detest the current administration at the centre, and generally find myself agreeing with Swami Aiyar's views yesterday (wherein he attacks his brother's shortsighted energy policies) that India tying up with generally unreliable countries which have no regard for property rights (and he gives the example of what happened to India in Iran after the nuclear-obsessed types came to power) is not the smartest thing to do. Given that the pinkest paper's correspondents have played the Oil Ministry's
unpaid cheerleaders (ugh!), I'm surprised that the Times carried the article - but this was Swami Aiyar - who has consistently been one of this administrations strangest economic critics, fraternal ties notwithstanding (and for this I immensely respect him).
Of course, the stupid commies are now seeing the light on Iran (but only after documents linking AQ Khan to Iran were printed), the problem is that the commies main organ, The Hindu, (the irony has befuddled me for years) hasn't seen the light yet. There are FDI issues that need to be resolved, but Karat who obviously looks upon North Korea and Cuba as shining examples of economic development has other ideas. Someone should really take Karat into villages and show him the aspiration levels of Indians. Yes, I agree there is a real risk that unless we do not ensure more egalatarian development that the disconnect between rich and poor India might become even more pronounced than it is today - and we must learn lessons from China's slightly botched schemes to promote egalitarianism here. But, the lack of labour reform will not promote egalitariamism, rather the unshackling of labour reforms will create thousands of jobs - they may not be the best paying jobs in the world, but at least they will be jobs.


thalassa_mikra said...

Years ago, I was helping an ex-boyfriend find an apartment in Delhi. He's Muslim, and I made it a point to tell prospective landlords upfront about his religion. I must have contacted more than a dozen persons, and the only one who refused to rent to him was this posh, English-speaking housewife from Defence Colony.

One of my other friends, a life-long RSS supporter, had absolutely no problems renting out his apartment to him. Just goes to show how appearances can be so deceptive.

So the Communists have come around on Iran? Good for them.

K said...

As long as the money comes on time, most landlords shouldn't have a problem. I understand that some guys freak out if 'non-veg' is made or their bed is soiled by two unmarried people having sex, but most landlords don't. However, I've never looked for a house in Delhi, so my stories of them are all hearsay.

Vikas said...

i guess freedom of choice for everyone.. Can we treat issues in isolation? All issues are related and criticising is the easiest thing. We all face it everyday in some form coz its easy for others and ourselves to do criticism. Its like talkin abt the tip of the iceberg. Such issues need sensitive, empathetic and deeper understanding to write about. Again, its your choice.

K said...

Vikas, I can't argue with your point that certain aspects do require a deeper level of understanding. Admittedly, I'm a newbie to this city and I don't know the complexities of the social fabric that binds it together. Its just that I found the entire thing rather hipocritical. Here I am with people telling me how urbane, civilised and great Mumbai is (better than Delhi I'm told) and then you hear and observe things like this. Just point out the irony in it all.

Sukanya M said...

Interesting post. But difficult to read. It wld be a great help if you could increase the font size ....

Soumyadip said...

Being a Muslim in a Hindu-dominated 'secular' India is indeed unenviable. Every where, even at workplaces Muslims are taunted and time and again have to prove their 'Indianess.' Take for instance Indo-Pak cricket matches. It is a foregone conclusion in the minds of the citizens of the 'Hindu Rashtra' that 12% of the country's population will invariably support Mush's Boys. And when one encounters a Muslim India supporter, he is looked at with cynicism. Match fixing - it is them who are always the usual suspects. It leads me to suspect the hidden motive behind the order of colours on the national flag.

Anonymous said...

Hi K,

Glad 2 know that us anon types can still comment away without having to disclose all our alter-egos.

Like the new skin 2

BTW what gives u the authority to pontificate away on such weighty matters. The only thing worse than a know-it-all hack is ...

Vikas said...

an illogical comparision by soumyadip regardin the order of the color on da national flag.. good way to create rumours or add fuel to da fire and do a dis-serivce to the sensitive minds of da readers. this is called drawing a seemingly illogical conclusion from an incompatible comparision. Its also called a Logical Fallacy. Beware, time will catch up with you guys too.

Jena said...

The reverse is also true. Try getting a house in Muslim areas of town.

Recently I rented a place in Channai and the stupid owner forced a jesus' temple within the house. To add to our pain and electricity bill he organizes a worship ceremony every friday, all on our rented premises and on our cost.

Hindus are much more tolerant than Muslims or Catholic Christians. Try staying in Bangladesh or Pakistan. Not only you will be a second class citizen with constant force to convert, your life will be perpetually in danger.

We allow Irfan Pathan's and Azharuddin's (despite taking bribes) in lead positions because it is truly a secular country. However don't expect people to instantly forget the post-independence massacare, the Godhra train burning and Mumbai riots.
What do you expect? Do you expect to welcome them with open arms so they can turn against us in times of danger and kill us? Sorry, that's not happening.
Muslims in India have to prove their loyalty to the country before all doors are open to them. Their rabid religious principles and their followers do not make it easy for other religions to accept them. Do you ever wonder why 100% terrorists are Muslim?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeena,

You are totally confused as a person, You need to get out of the closet and see the reality. I work for a news channel, Its shocking to see that the truth is too different then what you have mentioned.

Firstly, The Godhra Issue, muslims suffered more and much more. It is proved that the Hindutva played a bigger hand in it.

Second: Bombay riots was again proved to be mainly a 50:50 stand. Muslims where again hit badly. We have teh proofs.

Muslims follow a religion thats too different than hinduism. Infact Islam Christianity, Jew have some BASE. Hinduism has not.....

What happened in post-independence was again hit both sides.

So please be aware and know whats happening around.

You seem to be learned, so make use of your knowledge.