Classist society

Our time in Jaipur sadly came to an end today. I just couldn’t get enough of the architecture of this city and all the Muslim influences everywhere. It was like endless eye candy, and I couldn’t stop staring at everything.

We upgraded our flight from Jaipur to Mumbai so that we’d be sitting in business class, and Chris pointed out something that I completely overlooked. A man sat himself in a business class seat without any luggage or bags across from us. He was traveling with his servant, who not only placed his bag in the business overhead compartment above his seat, but even rearranged it just so, in the way that his boss asked him to correct. Then, the server went to seat himself in the back of the plane in economy class. He would eventually come back to the front of the plane to pick up the luggage, far after his boss would already have deplaned.

It’s strange for me to witness things like this because I see it so rarely back in the U.S. Even when you do have hired help, it tends to be hidden away in the home, or via women of color pushing excessively expensive strollers with super white babies in the Upper East Side. It’s not so out in the open like on a plane ride. And, I think it would be quite accurate to say that whatever that business class man was paying his servant that it is minuscule in comparison to what hired help is paid in the U.S.

Chris’s mom messaged him that it is customary to tip the servant when staying at Ammachy’s (Chris’s maternal grandmother’s) home. Granted, due to water rationing in Chennai, and being able to shower only between the hours of 6-8am, we ended up getting a hotel for our three nights there. But his mom said it would still be a nice gesture given that she’s doing some extra work given our visit. I suggested to Chris that we not only give her a tip, but also ask her to accompany us to dinner on Sunday night. His eyes widened. The look on his face was as though I just told him I was planning to shave my head bald.

“Babe, you don’t ask the help to go to dinner,” he said, wrinkling his eyebrow, as though he was educating me on the ways of life here. “They are the help. Unless they are doing something like caring or feeding a child, they do not come to dinner with us.”

I told him I didn’t understand what the problem was; it would be a nice, generous gesture, and I’m sure she would appreciate it.

“You just don’t do that here,” Chris insisted. “It would be unheard of.”

“You’re so classist!” I retorted, annoyed. “I don’t see what the big deal is.”

I am not classist; India is classist,” he responded. “That’s the way things are here. You just deal with it.”

“You have to be the change that you want to see,” I said back to him. “How is anything going to change with an attitude like that?”

Chris: “I don’t live here, so I’m not going to change anything! I just deal with it for the short time I’m here, and then I leave!”

Fine – that’s fair enough. Sure, you just deal with that here. But you want to change Indian society and get them to be more sexually open?!

Chris has his priorities laid out.


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