Telephony in India has developed a caste system which divides the BC ( backward classes, including all others), the caller, from the Brahmin who is the callee. The person being called becomes per se a potential dispenser of two coffees and a coke from his largesse of a single thermos. He( or She ) continues to achieve the unachievable of playing with changing goal posts.I have been spending the last few weeks to get in telephonic touch with some high flying executives. Everytime I rang him on his mobile phone, he was flying to a meeting in Mumbai from Delhi, or to Bangalore from Pune. I will call you back , they reassure me before hanging up to focus on the next match. But never do. Government officials never call me back, when I call them. It’s not they are being boorish. They just don’t want to risk contaminating their sacred thread and do not want the shadow of a BC to fall on their Android One enabled smart phone or Hamuman chalisa enabled BSNL. I once read a column on this by Jug Suraiya.
Every Brahmin callee knows his or her lineage. This is what we call Gotras – which are altogether forty-two. Whether you meet a Brahmin when he is at Cape Town or Delhi, at Mumbai or New York , you must know that he is a descendant of one of those forty-two intellectual giants and that his ancestry dates back over 3,000 years. His peer group is of other Brahmins and the closest friends are from the same gotra. He is extremely proud of this fact and any retying up the sacred thread means he has to recite the Gotra thrice. This is a wastage of time in the hectic schedule and hence the fear of contamination by Backward classes. There is a scene in Richard Attenborough’s biopic where Gandhi argues with his wife because she refuses to clean their latrine. She says it is the work of untouchables; he tells her there is no such thing. Gandhi’s tactics of encouraging brotherly love across caste boundaries and urging Indians to clean their own latrines had failed miserably. The innate sense of being omnipotent by being a Brahmin prevents them from stooping down to do menial and temporal jobs. They are out to bring new ideas, to increase valuation and to increase their net worth.
What I find appalling is the lack of inquisitiveness among the Brahmins. High flying executives by definition lead busy lives, forever jetting between meetings because if they weren’t frenetically whizzing about to all these meetings then they wouldn’t be high flying executives. Didn’t they ever want to know what I wanted to say ? Whenever , a BC like me, gets a miss call or gets disconnected, I’am all eager to ring back and find out. My book may have been accepted or maybe someone is offering me a job or some work. As it invariably happens, Sweety was calling for giving me the offer of making me rich by providing tips on commodity market for three months and bundling in another one month free offer. I only see the commodities at the Bazar and not even at a hyper market. But one lives on optimism. The high flying executives weren’t motivated to call me back, if not out of courtesy , at least out of curiosity.
Government officials play a different game. There are rare occasions when astute telephonic Brahmins let their secretaries call the telephonic BC from the landline. By definition, all Brahmin officials have secretaries. As I hold my mobile in trembling hands, the secretary announces that Mr. Royal HeadDepartMinistry will now speak and I listen to Jai Jagdish Hare till the Big Man comes on line. Nowadays I also see the practise to call back the caller from a mobile, showing that the efficacy of a mobile secretary . They cant help it. Nowadays attendance is online and the shift continues till late due to living up to the promotional image of good governance. When work is not there, some are created like the call to me.
Next time , on one of those singular occasions I get a call on my mobile from a Brahmin, I mean to play a game by myself becoming my secretary. You see I am the secretary of Mr O. BC, who is himself virtually flying from one meeting to another. Thats the only way to get elevated in the telephony caste system. The other way is to accept that fate determines your caste. You must accept it and live according to the rules.