City Culture – Rules for Ayahs, The Delhi Golf Club
On lesser human beings.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla is not a member of The Delhi Golf Club. Thank God. The 220-acre course of green grass and Lodhi-era tombs mirrors the perverse side of this city. One of the Club Rules cited on its official website says:
Members Domestic Employees (MDE)such as ayahs, drivers, attendants etc. while they are in the club premises shall be subject to and shall obey, the lawful orders given to them by the Captain, Secretary or any Office bearer or authorised officer of the Club and it shall be the duty of members to instruct MDE accordingly. MDE are not permitted in the Club House, Lounges, Annexe, Golf Course etc. Ayahs are only allowed to sit in the demarcated area near the swings. In case member wishes to give her food, member has to pick the food from the counter and only then, can be given to Ayahs. Ayahs are not allowed to pick up food from the Counter. Ayahs accompanying members and their children in the Swimming Pool area can sit on the bench in front of the Tomb. Ayahs are not expected to use any other area and not allowed inside the Change Room. Ayahs during non-winter months can use demarcated area to sit in the tiled area in the front lawn.
The summer-time concession in the final sentence is touching – thank you, Mr Golfer(!)
The club, a municipal course in the early 1930s that became a corporate entity in 1950, is one of the many such institutions in this city. The Gymkhana Club is similarly kind towards the Servant Class (Latin symbol: MDE). Indeed, a significant section of Delhiwallas derive their sense of entitlement – it’s just their credit cards, they posses nothing substantial to be snobbish about – by creating little apartheid dictatorships for themselves. The city, despite its big size, is very small.
Stay out of here
Most of these imperious, soi-disant ‘elite’ have no idea that their little golf club contains architectural treasures from Delhi’s past. What’s more, like a dog in the manger, they won’t let lesser mortals anywhere near those monuments. So, we must content ourselves with venting our pent-up frustration in the comments section.
It is like a DOGS NOT ALLOWED notice. What the hell?????!!!!
Its not a problem specific to the city. Our whole country has this attitude towards our helpers whereby they are considered lesser humans. Sadly, I don’t see it change in near future.
It is surprising that a club located in the political heart of the “world’s most populous democracy’s” capital city, frequented by most of its elite can be so comfortable with such rules! Discriminatory rules based on cast or class are somehow antithetic with the idea of a liberal democracy. It is an odd mimic of the colonial era: Brown men playing white racist master. These elites that revel in growth rate and long to become “first class” and “developed” should also know that the end of the domesticity culture is one of the signals of development, in developed countries labour is too expensive for 99.9 % of the population to afford “servants”; this word in the west is considered extinct by the way! And you have labour laws that, when enforced, protect the worker, not the employer.
The perverse thing here is how do you recognise the Ayah. What are the instructions given to the Officers of the club? “Watch every person that looks darker? Thinner? More Indian? That orders food from the counter in a correct hindi?”
I think it can also be interpreted in this way: The PEDW (person who employs domestic workers) like to take their DW everywhere, maybe to show off, maybe because it’s such a pain to take care of the mota Arjun, but don’t want to pay for them, be it at the restaurant or in a private club. So the club that doesn’t dare upset the PEDW members set rules for the MDW that enables PEDW to take their DW in without paying for them.
I recently had a very similar experience in a slightly different context at the Delhi Golf Club recently. If you find the time, do take a look at this post reflecting my perception of two diametrically opposite experiences I had in Delhi.
Veena Venugopal says we are all Hari Sadu (the horrible boss). In the context of your post, do read her article.
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