Recently, numerous media debates and several articles have been penned on the issue of racial profiling of the African citizens who are staying in India. But the media, like it has done in the past, forgot to raise the issue of another important allied subject, which in this case is the profiling of a ‘Bachelor’.
People generally tend to focus on the thrills and enjoyment in the life of a young earning bachelor, conveniently forgetting the perils that come attached with it.
A quiet, normal guy, leaving his house early morning and being seen by his suspecting neighbors only during the time when he is standing in the gallery to lock his door, soon becomes an object of curiosity. Questions regarding the antecedent of the lone mortal are soon raised. What does he do? Why does he stay alone? Where does he go early morning? Why is he quiet?
Soon the questions are put to the house maid who has been fortunate enough to land a job in the kitchen of this mysterious one. And playing to the gallery, the maids too tend to use their own creativity to make the whole matter even more mysterious.
Last week, the woman who cooks for me, told me that one of my neighbors, who is a lady police inspector, was asking her questions like what do I do? Who comes to meet me?. “Mainu unsey bol deeya ki bhaiya toh jyaada sirf phone pe hee kaam karta hai. TV aur computer ke sammne beth ke”. Soon enough the picture of a Bookie and a towel and Sreesanth flashed across my mind.
Interestingly this maid of mine was initially reluctant to work at my place. She was referred by the society security guard. When she first came to my house besides discussing her ‘pagar’(wage) she said that she was not very comfortable in working in a house of a bachelor, “Sharab peete hain, ladki aati hai, ghar ganda rakhte hain. Shuru mai ek hafta kaam kar ke dekhti hum, jamega to sochungi”
It has been 5 months, and despite my threats of terminating her services for taking too many leaves, she continues to cling to my house like a faithful cow that ritually stands at the door of a Hindu priest every morning.
It is not just the maids who assume things of disproportionate proportion. The next door ‘aunties’, as cliché it may sound, too have their own ‘narrow’ thinking about the guy living next door.
For them the guy is someone who is obliged to help them in times of ‘kitchen needs’, more specifically in the times when their Gas cylinder goes empty at the stroke of mid night when the whole world is sleeping.
Twice I have been awakened by a smiling neighbor who is standing on my door because her LPG cylinder failed her. “Book kar deeya hai, 2-3 din mai aa jayega, tab tak aap apna cylinder de dijiye.”
I am sure the thoughts that I am also a mortal who survives on food, rather than plain air, might have crossed her mind. Also must have crossed, only to be forgotten, would have been the question that how would my cook prepare if you take away the only PLG cylinder I had.
However, the cruelties of life come and go and rather than pondering over it, a rational man moves ahead.
The biggest problem that a bachelor faces is when he searches for a house to rent, to stay and to sleep just like an ordinary law abiding Indian or foreign citizen. However, most of the house owner sees him as an outlaw, a danger to the ‘bahu-beti’ of the family, the harbinger of alcoholism in the society, a honeycomb which will attracts similar ‘outlaws’, the young ruffians, in dozens.
When I came to Bhopal, it was only after two months of hard labor that I could get a decent place to run my ‘den’. During these two months I learnt that there are multiple hurdles for a bachelor when it comes to looking for a house.
First the fact that he is unmarried is the biggest hurdle, secondly he will be staying alone without the company of his mother and father is a big letdown for many ‘makaan maalik’. If one crosses these two queries, the final frontier is his job profile.
In many cases I was able to clear the initial two stages, but when I told the owners that I was working for a newspaper, they would just give me a polite smile and say no.
A retired army colonel, staying in Pune was looking for a tenant for his house in Bhopal. I called him up, pleasantries were exchanged and quite surprisingly he stated that he had no problem with my bachelor status. The next question was about my job. Feeling confident, I enthusiastically stated, “I am a journalist”. There was a silence of 2-3 seconds and then the call got disconnected. When I called him again, the monotonous reply that came from his side, san any past like pleasantries was, “I don’t give my house to journalists”. End of conversation. At that time, the only thought that crossed across my mind was a dialogue that I heard in Hindi dubbed Tamil movie which I had heard in the recent past- ‘Koi goonda pet se bahar nahee aata, yeh society usey goonda banati hai”.
I couldn't agree more.