First of all I have to say that I’m deeply touched by the overwhelming response to the previous installments of Hyderabad Blues. Many of you have informed me that you are keenly awaiting the next bout of my mental diarrhea manifested in an extra-long email choking up your mail-box. Since I'm so concerned about the health of your mail-boxes,I have decided to put it out in a blog format. So welcome to my blog, where I rave and rant about anything and everything, voice unfounded opinions and quote misinformed data at random!!!
Today I’d like to share with you my observations of a peculiar group of people who, in my opinion has become a very important part of our everyday life in India. There’s hardly any place one can go without bumping into one of them and most of the time that interaction leaves a rather bitter after taste. In case you are wondering, I’m actually talking about the security guards. Whoever thought of this form of employment has to be a genius! What a novel idea…get a bunch of really dumb guys, pay them peanuts, put them in colorful uniforms, make them stand in sweltering heat wearing hats, their only job description is “harass any one who tries to get past”…and boy, do they take themselves seriously!
Case in point, Microsoft campus in Hyderabad. One morning I had the misfortune of visiting the building. It seems there are two gates, one for VIP/employees and another one for visitors. Now the gate for visitors is actually located almost a kilometer away from the building entrance and if you are not carrying your Microsoft ID card you are not allowed to take in your car, which means park your car outside, fill up forms in triplicate to apply for a visitor’s pass, walk the kilometer in the Hyderabad heat to get to the building, wrestle another guard who’s standing at the door operable only by a card key and then fill up another set of forms in triplicate at the reception to finally get your visitor’s pass. The other gate actually expects you to have a pass even before you can enter. Well, on this unfortunate and extremely hot morning, after being unceremoniously and unnecessarily shunted about between the two gates of the great Microsoft, I finally lost it. I refused to walk the kilometer and decided to try my luck at the VIP gate. I try to walk in with a VVIP air about me, but the security guard was not to be fooled…he knows a real VIP from a fake one. The conversation thus followed went like this.
Security Guard (SG): Arre madam, ID card kidhar hai?
Me : Visitor
SG: Toh pass kidhar hai?
Me: Andar nahi jayega to pass kahanse ayega?
SG: Bina pass ka andar jana mana hai!!
Me: Thik hai, toh receptionist ko yahan bulao!
SG: (very patronizingly) Nahi madam, aisa nahi to hota. Rule hai…bina pass ka andar jana mana hai!
Me: Rule kahan likkha hai? Dikhao!
SG: Maine bataya na rule hai!
Me: Rule aapne banaya?
SG: Nahi upar ka order hai
Me: Toh upar wala ko hi bulao
SG: nahi bula saktey!
Me: Rule nahi dikha saktey, uparwaley ko nahi bula saktey…toh kaise chalega? Mujhey andar jana hai!!
I make an attempt to walk off. Now this guy gets really serious.
SG: Aise andar nahi ja sakte!!!
By this time I’m already baked in the heat, so I just lose it completely and break into this tirade ( in suddh Hindi) of how I have been going into Microsoft campus for last 7 years and nobody has ever dared stop me ( haha) and now I’ll have to learn the rules from him etc etc. I threw one last “Rok sako toh rok lo” and marched off to the reception while he stared helplessly. Well so much for security!!! But he forgot to ask me how I managed to go to the MS campus for 7 years when the campus was only 1 year old?! Oh well...
This afternoon, we took our son to the Birla Planetarium. Beautiful place located atop a hill with great views of Hyderabad. We reached about half hour before the show time. Sonny boy wanted to use the restroom so we show our tickets to the security guard and enter the building. They had some interesting exhibits on Einstein, so we decide to read those to kill time. A loud whistle makes me jump out of my skin. Turns out to be a security guard. “Yahan anadar ghumna phirna mana hai” he says. Spouse shows him our tickets.
Spouse:Tickets hai hamare paas.
SG:Ghumna phirna mana hai!!
Spouse and I wonder aloud why they put up the exhibits, if no one’s allowed to look at them. Now the guard is really angry. He chases us with his whistle and says ‘Bola na ghumna phirna mana hai! Show ke 15 minutes pehle gate khulta hai!”
Spouse: Aapko to ticket dikhakey andar gaya.
SG: Sirf bathroom jaaney ka permission diya tha…ghumney ka nahi!
Me: Pehle batane ka tha na ke aankh bandh karke bathroom jao, aas paas mat dekho!
SG: Bahar sab log wait kar rahen hai…aaplog anadar hai, confusion ho raha hai!!
So we decide to be good little citizens and obey the “rules” and step out. Immediately he takes our tickets, punches them and says, “Ab andar ja saktey hai!!” Apparently it was 15 minutes before show time.
So our friend the security guard is also the usher inside the planetarium and he decides the seating order. He points to a far corner and says “Wahan jaakey baith jaaiye.” Spouse and I look at each other and in unison say “nahi jayengey!!” pick our own seats and sit down. The guy probably realizes that we are lost cases and turns his attention to other people who are a little more “rule” abiding!
Now, this one takes the cake. Some time back we went to a water park close to Hyderabad. At the wave pool there was tiny entrance gate with a security guard checking if people are wearing “proper swimming attire”. The park was renting out long pants and shirts for the conservative Indian woman to protect her modesty in a swimming pool. A repatriate friend of ours was wearing a jet-ski top over his swim shorts…he was forced to take it off because it was improper attire. Then it was my turn. I had a sarong over my swim suit and the guy wouldn’t let me in.
SG:”Madam, skirt allow nahi hai!”
Me:Yeh skirt nahi, sarong hai
SG:Kucch bhi ho, skirt allowed nahi hai
Me:Arrey woh log lambey pants pahenkey pool me utar sakti hai to phir sarong kyu nahi chalega?
SG: Mereko nahi maloom. Skirt allow nahi hai! Yeh kholkey jao.
Me: Nahi kholti
SG: Nahi ja saktey
Me: Manager ko bulao
The manager was called…I start yelling about the unfairness of the rules by which women can wear long pants to the water park to protect their modesty and sarongs are considered improper attire! He took one look at my agitated state, decided not to aggravate the situation anymore and let me in. Unfortunately by then the security guard had already been at the receiving end of some choicest phoren gaalis from me. Before going in I took the sarong off just to prove that I was indeed in proper swimming attire!!
Another repatriate family renting out a huge mansion in Jubilee hills and employing day/night security guard experienced burglary three times in a span of one year…each time the guard was conveniently somewhere else!
Sometimes I wonder what exactly the role of a security guard is. Every place has one…banks, schools, shops, office, homes, malls, cinema, restaurants…why are we suddenly in need of security? What are we securing ourselves from? Can two skinny guys in ill-fitting uniform stop terrorists from attacking a school and taking our children as hostages?
And here's some food for thought...Why do Microsoft employees have to show their ID card while getting out of the building in Hyderabad?