Sam was cursing his stars for coming down to India’s business capital city of Mumbai; so called epitome of ever growing companies and a global village.
He really didn’t had any memories of so called Mumbai, as his parents migrated way back to an alien city in USA. He hardly visited India due to scarcity of holidays in father’s account or mother’s constant nagging of narrow minded in laws. In his father’s pink slip duration, he had heard about Mumbai, his father’s native place and had some livid sketches in his mind. Mangesh Bhalerao, his father always took pride in being from Mumbai; a progressive and global industry hub offering amalgamation of all cultures, providing food and shelter to all without discrimination. But either Sam’s dad got suddenly busy in his projects or Sam was way lost in his thoughts; they stopped talking about Mumbai. Once Sam did tried to ask him about the city, matter was shirked away in no time; something must be wrong, but he dare didn’t ask him.
It’s been 10 years; his parents met with an accident and left him alone to fend for himself in this cruel city. He did odd jobs with everybody for completing his study; including a Pakistani, Bangladeshi and fellow Indians from other unheard parts of India. He never had time for religious activities, never went to a temple but people referred him as a Hindu. When he topped his University, awarded a gold medal; he first thanked his Part-time employer, a Bangladeshi. When he called all the names from all different parts, he wanted to thank; people rose on their feet and clapped for him, he became famous overnight for being a global citizen holding no bars.
Sam got a job with McDermott Inc. and after a successful stint in UK, South Africa and Nigeria; requested to be posted in India. Request for Indian posting was result of reading a famous book for managers “A monk who sold his Ferrari” and attending so called Indian Yoga. However, he also wanted to taste spicy Indian curries, as described by famous food critic, Himanshu Manroa.
Sam was sure his father’s stories about cosmopolitan culture of Mumbai, may also help him in earning more money for him and the company and he will be able to buy his sea facing flat on all cash basis in NY.
He got down at Mumbai airport but surprisingly the language written everywhere was alien to him. He remembered his father’s words, everybody knows English and it’s never a problem; Sam knew English, Spanish and a bit of Hindi. He tried stopping some people and talking to them for directions or taxi but nobody paid a heed to him.
Before coming down to India, he had a lengthy discussion on the strategies with Pooja, MD, India, McDermott. She did mention something deadly as ‘Bandh’, where every industry gets down on their knees and do no work. Sam also remembered Mauna Varta (people following it, don’t utter a single word). However it was beyond his capabilities to understand, what’s happening around him and why the heck, nobody cared a dim for him.
Suddenly some people came armed with bamboos and sticks and thrashed him badly. They were speaking a language alien to him but their intensity showed, they were not saying kind words. Fortunately somebody called an ambulance,when he could open his eyes; it was paining like hell, he was in hospital and the date was 28th September. In other words, he had already spent around 7 days in hospital; now he was worried.
He tried talking to doc and nurse; still nobody cared a dim. He tried finding logic, may be overnight some disease spread and all Indians are deaf; he shouted vigirously “Aaaaaa hhhhhh” and to his surprise, everybody out there, kept hand on their ears. Sam’s mouth was now wrapped with a tape but he was happy and hopeful; Indians can hear, so somebody will hear him.
At last his company officials in India were able to locate him in the hospital but surprisingly they didn’t talk to him. He tried talking to them, even threatened them with suspension and dire consequences but to no avail. He was suspicious, are they people from his company but logo did portray their affiliation; and thankfully it did match mine.
He was discharged from the hospital and taken to his office, 4 floors below the ground. Here suddenly he could hear some heavenly words, “hello! Sumatra, how are you?”
He was taken aback, everybody tried speaking with him and he could understand; they were pleading their cases and asking for forgiveness for my sufferings. He was confused, how things changes so soon; he thanked the elephant face god, it was heavenly.
“Drastic Changes have taken place in using any other language anywhere, now other Indian languages can be used 2 floors below the ground and non- Indian languages needs to go beyond 3rd floor”, taking a sip of coffee, Pooja made me understand.
She also explained me few draconian laws
- If any person found speaking any other language, people are free to kick him anywhere anytime and there is no law to save him. People saving him / her will be branded anti national.
- Corporate companies who have English speaking staff, pay additional 70% tax.
He took early morning flight back to his hometown, NY with his mouth shut close.
Sam was at comfort with everyone; he could relate to his father’s last words, you are a resident of NY and this is your country.
originally written: 31. August 2008 08:56