Mi Bodeguita del Medio

While my blog is named after a restaurant in Havana I hope to someday visit, here you will find musings, rants, political incorrectness, thoughts on Indian Nationalism, strong straight-forward opinions and tid-bits.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Indecent exposure: The breach on the beach

The crisis, unstable market, lack of investment, low morale, low liquidity- all of it only to get worse in 2009- here in Europe, directly affects the market I’m working in (M&A). All of this is now causing me to rethink how much longer will I be able to survive here (cos that’s what I’m doing – surviving, on a minimal pay check that just covers my expenses, and leaves me with no saving at month end), as opposed to moving back home (is my Spain dream coming to an end?)

Interestingly, along with thoughts of home, come thoughts of what I left behind (the good - family, friends, samosas, dosas, shisha, limon bin na na, hot weather, disposable income!!......and also the not so good). One of the not so good things is discrimination and lower pay for equal work, something typical of the Middle East. To that effect, here is an article by Bikram Vohra, that comments on the new-rich feeling that many-a-westerner develops - in my words, how they "lose the plot," once they arrive to the region. How many have seen this happen? Oh, and do enjoy the article (I look forward to reading much more stuff by the author, who I believe is the Managing Editor of the Bahrain Tribune.
Indecent exposure: The breach on the beach
Bikram Vohra

The global brouhaha over the Dubai police catching two British citizens inflagrant delicto on a beach seems grossly out of proportion to other burning issues of the day. However, now that the British tabloids have picked up this story and destroyed two lives there seems to be no confidentiality or restraint in using these two for everyone else’s cathartic satisfaction. Gee, we are so clever, we don’t get caught. Not that we don’t behave badly, we are heap smarter.

Contrary to the prevalent belief, it is actually the westerners who suffer from culture shock when they come to these parts. The leap from a council house in Hounslow (does it really exist?) Stratham and Slough to villas and houseboys, housemaids, gardeners, 4 wheel drives and the pretensions to Country Club tally ho imitations with a few nightspots and caviar and blinis and smoked salmon replacing bangers and mash and a bit of bitter pink bubbly thrown in for the bit of bitter gives them the feeling of racist superiority. Add to this hubris the sudden financial liquidity and it is easy to see how they go off the tracks. The fact that Asians, by and large, render space to Caeser with graceless ease because they feel that, like them, their bosses also tend to look up to white people more than they do to coloureds adds to the arrogance.

The residual dregs of imperialism still survive. The system allows for this sort of genial racism and naturally, it occasionally goes sour. White nationalities continue to snuffle at the colonial trough and get more money for the same work and a better lifestyle. Asians and others may resent it and respond with equally vicious racism in reverse but they let it be. So an Indian can be pushed aside by a fellow native attendant at a supermarket in preference to a westerner standing behind, a club can refuse entry to non-white people on flimsy excuses, politeness can trip just a bit in the same divide and upper class Asians don’t make it any easier by slavishly aping western customs and habits. Service staff will be politer to those from the west because a report or complaint from one of them tends to cause heavier ripples than one from Asians.

Ergo, you are so not the better man, Gunga Din.
So, when Michelle Palmer and Vince Accors did the naughty they actually believed in a corner of their minds that they were exempt from the laws. If not that, at least they had the social standing to expect leniency. Sense, if you will, the sentiment behind the words to the policeman: I will sue you.

No Asian would even dream of saying that. Not because he is weak or feeble but because he does not feel that sense of superiority. I remember when I was the editor of a newspaper in the UAE a young cheeky English reporter came to me and said, “Do you know my houseboy and you are from the same country, fancy that.” The public school insolence so nurtured and loved in Britain was palpable.

Nothing changes. Being snide is the replacement for poor education and an absence of grammar. Native English speakers may speak it but they couldn’t for the most part write their way out of a paper bag.

Those apologies after the incident by the foolish twosome only conceals the contempt and derision in which such people hold those who are not of their ilk.

If the British community has rallied round these two it is because most of them are a decent lot, living their lives with grace and dignity and not being snotty about who they are because it is not relevant anymore. And, as is their tradition they are going for the underdog. The spate of letters reflect all points of view but paramount is the fact that this incident should be seen as a symptom of a deeper malaise where young western people are flaunting rules and abusing hospitality of foreign nations where they are guests.

In this case, the company ITP issues letters marking out the rules of social conduct and gives it to each newcomer, so what part of it did they not understand? It is getting a little awkward.
A drunk westerner falls off an uptown skyscraper. Another gets smashed and picks up a fight on his way to Heathrow. Gets arrested. A third is caught with his pants down. All in a week. Pub fights become more common. Being decanted into cabs at night is regular activity and the hedonistic self indulgence might get a brake on it for a while after this show all but will it stop the shenanigans?

I quite doubt it. Don’t take tolerance for weakness. The weakness lies in you, chaps.


  1. nam!
    I don't want your dream in spain to come to an end! NO NO NO. we will get past this!

    xo. Paola

  2. Hehe. I miss you Paola. Come back :)