MADRAS- 1977 ( Memories. Part Two.)

In Madras (and later in Delhi), I found the remains of the caste system between my Indian subordinates. Once I bought a soda water box and with this box I arrived on my territory . I said to my driver that he should bring the box to the cottage. What did the driver? He called from our Consulate area a dust cleaner, who was clearly from a lower caste, and he ordered him to carry the water box to the cottage room and then he paid him 50 paise (very little money … then a kilogram of potatoes was worth twice the price). That is, the driver was not humbled himself with a work, that was not associated with driving a car.

I was surprised, but then I saw this not once, and not twice. In Madras and in Delhi. But in the financial capital of India – Mumbai for two years I never saw it as before. There’s much more people are free from “traditional values.” I have seen there even Indian transvestites =) .

I worked in Madras about one year until the replacement has arrived from Moscow and after that I moved to Delhi, where I immediately felt not entirely alien. Knowledge of the local language Hindi is very helpful, although English was understood by everyone, even by peasants.

In Madras it was necessary to communicate only in English, because then (I do not know as it is now) it was a stronghold of Tamil nationalism. The Tamils often pretended that they did not understand what was said in the national language Hindi.

It’s like trying to talk anywhere in Russian in Lviv and Ternopol ( in Western Ukraine). lf you are a buyer and you are willing to buy something, the seller of the goods will understand you perfectly well. But it’s because you are willing to pay money. And without this money there is no interest to speak the language of a different ethnos ( in Ukraine) or race and a different language family ( in India ). Even in Delhi, some Tamils were often reluctant to “understand” a Russian Hindi speaker , including Tamil “Communists-Internationalists”, being not “ rank and file” activists but a very high level Netas in the Communist Party of India ( CPI ) .

At the same time, these same Tamils Netas spoke fluent Hindi in Delhi with the simple northern Indians , because “where is to get off the track?” Kisaan Indians speak English poorly. They understand and speak English, but in their native Hindi it is much easier for them.

Generally, in my time in Tamil Nadu, whose capital was Madras it was markedly different from Delhi in many ways. For example, when I lived in Madras there existed a “dry law” and a foreigner had the right to buy only two bottles of spirits per month, pre-filing a written statement on the printed form to the Police, that “I am a foreigner or I am a habitual drunkurd” (delete unnecessary). After receiving such a permit of a foreigner, or “a habitual alcoholic,” you could buy anything from strong drinks from a very meager assortment. Personally, I was disgusted even to fill in this form , humiliating me as a “habitual alcoholic” =)

I worked in Madras about one year until the replacement has arrived from Moscow and after that I moved to Delhi, where I immediately felt not entirely an alien. Knowledge of the local language is very helpful, although English is understood everywhere, even by peasants. But an English speaker was “ Angrezi” by definition….
( To be continued )