Lungi discrimination is history, now it is an untouchable on scooter

My contractor badge and List of things I was carrying inside.

My contractor badge and List of things I was carrying inside.

Recently, Chennai saw a furor when multiplexes in that city tried to ban entry of people wearing lungi (the traditional garment worn by men across southern India ). This surely was a symbol of the ne0-elitism wave in our country. I faced a similar scenario during one of my assignments. But it had nothing to do with a lungi (my dad wears it, but I have never worn it). It had to do with something that most young men in this country consider it their prized possession: A bike, a two-wheeler… my dear old scooter.

ITC Royal Gardenia, the new 5-star luxury hotel in Bangalore city, was host to a Black Tie event on last Saturday night. My office had assigned me to cover this as a page3 event. I had called up one of the socialites who was to be present there and he had asked me to be there by 8:15 p.m. I reached the main gate of Royal Gardenia on time, thanks to my scooter (A Honda Activa). The security guard at the main gate informed me to enter through a different gate – Gate number 5 – as the main gate was only for cars and not for two-wheelers. I said ‘ok’, and went in search of this gate and found it to be the back gate of the hotel (Hmmm.. never mind. not an issue). This was where it all began.

As a normal procedure in any hotel, I had to get off for security check. I was more than happy to have my camera bags searched, be frisked and be questioned. I informed them that I was from a newspaper and had been invited to cover a Black Tie event at the hotel, and then showed them my ID and my camera bag. They called up some place inside the hotel to find out if there was a party happening and/or to let me through. To my surprise, the guards got no confirmation of any event inside (Strike 1 !). I then called up the socialite who I had spoken to earlier about the event. He gave me the same information about the event happening close to lobby. When he understood the situation, he said he’ll ask someone from the hotel to escort me in. I waited, so did the guards. Meanwhile, the employees and contractors of Hotel kept entering and leaving the premises through the gate I was waiting at. After some time I received a call from a hotel staff who identified himself as the coördinator for the event. He asked me to walk in through the lobby to get into the place where the party was happening. I had to repeat and tell that I was far away from the lobby and the main-gate: I was at the back gate. He asked me if it was possible for me to get back to the main entry. I said I can’t! because I was on a scooter! and if he didn’t know, ‘his hotel’ did not allow any man or woman to enter main gate on a scooter! (Strike 2 !!)

Finally, an employee from the hotel came panting to the gate to tell the guards I wasn’t lying! and I wasn’t a terrorist on a scooter! The guards said ‘ok’, but few formalities…

This was it… After entering details in a register like a visitor to any office, I was given a badge to wear (Yes, you read it correctly, a badge). The badge said, CONTRACTOR! Was I a contract employee of ITC Royal Gardenia? Why would anyone invited to the hotel or even any genuine visitor to a hotel be made to wear a badge, and that too a badge called a contractor? (Any answers?) (Strike 3 !!!). It didn’t end here.  I was given a sheet of paper to list out all the items in my possession, probably if I were to steal a spoon or two, or maybe a faucet from the restroom of the hotel, then I could be easily caught at the exit, as it wouldn’t have been mentioned in the list of things I was carrying inside. Else, I don’t see a reason, as no terrorist entering a hotel will declare two grenades, three AK 47s, and  a rocket launcher! The hotel staff gave me a smile and he didn’t know what to say about this (Strike 4!!!!). I wrote about my camera, flash, and lenses, then I asked him “Should I list out my phone too (just to make sure that I couldn’t steal a second phone!)?”.

The hotel employee escorted me to basement parking lot. Then he took me through series of doors and stairways to quickly reach the party just before it got over (I thank him at least for this). I stood there shooting photographs of familiar faces who didn’t say a word to me about that huge ‘Contractor’ badge pinned to me Shirt. For fifteen minutes, I was standing there wondering if I were a plumber hired by the hotel or somebody invited to cover an event. I was neither of the two. It didn’t matter what my job, profession, age or business in the hotel was. Ultimately it boils down to the fact that ‘I was a man on a scooter‘.  And I was to be intimidated, humiliated and made to feel that being on a scooter was being the new untouchable.

Isn’t it an irony that the very place that gives you a hostile atmosphere is actually known for hospitality business?

My dad always asks me to drive our Hyundai i10. I have flatly refused because I hate driving in Bangalore traffic and would end up late on all the assignments. But I guess, for the first time I am wondering whether I should start driving our car again, just to ensure extra wheels will give me the respect which every man deserves. these days respect doesn’t seem to be given for people’s talents.

Where are we heading to? In Bangalore, the elitism divide seems to be heading to public spaces too. There is a move by the government to regulate entry to places like cubbon park and lal bagh through electronic ID cards which come at a price and is supposedly regulated by a highly restrictive application process.

Nishant Ratnakar
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Santhosh Adiga
Santhosh Adiga
10 years ago

Reminds me of Goa !!

trackback

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by nishantr, vaishalli. vaishalli said: RT : Discriminated because of I ride scooter http://bit.ly/78iBAv/ […]

Venkatesh
Venkatesh
10 years ago

This is something that i always wanted to address – I have been there twice on assignment and had to go through the same thing. These guys are embarrassed to let people on two wheelers into their premises. I was asked to use the service entrance that is in the rear of the hotel to get in. And yes you get a badge and you have to list all the stuff you are carrying with serial numbers. No that they cared to check on the way out. I still have the list of items with the security seal on it.… Read more »

chupchap
10 years ago

That sucks.. too bad you were there for an assignment, else you could have said screw you and walked off.

peevee
10 years ago

Hmm.. Thats a bad scene as u mentioned here..
But.. Yup,. few occasions, i had to go through this situation during an event in a hotel for our client. Lucky me(?), they allowed me to park inside the hotel and walk again out to the service entry.

Jalaja
Jalaja
10 years ago

I had a similar experience, not because I went on a two-wheeler, but coz I was carrying a helmet… The said helmets were not allowed in and they didn't have space to keep it, coz 'People on two wheelers don't visit this mall'. I walked off but they did manage to make me feel small…

sharadaprasad
sharadaprasad
10 years ago

But do you really want to earn the respect of people who respect cars and not you or your talent? I use my bicycle on all occasions and I don't give a damn.

trackback

[…] writes how two wheels can lead to a whole lot of messy discrimination. The security guard at the main gate informed me to enter through a different gate – Gate number […]

Dhruva
10 years ago

This is nothing … I work for one of top 5 IT services company and our employer used to do this to us – everyday.
Imagine going through this everyday while entering/leaving your office building. (frisking, giving you “stamped” list of things etc)… if you protest, they will say it is “company policy” – ISO, CMM, or some security certification requirement … so they cannot help it.

Dhruva
10 years ago

This is nothing … I work for one of top 5 IT services company and our employer used to do this to us – everyday.
Imagine going through this everyday while entering/leaving your office building. (frisking, giving you “stamped” list of things etc)… if you protest, they will say it is “company policy” – ISO, CMM, or some security certification requirement … so they cannot help it.

P K Rathnakar
P K Rathnakar
10 years ago

These happenings are not due to system failures but because of individual's capacity to digest the matter. The issue may be taken at appropriate forum for remedial measure so that such instance shall not recur again and again.

ArunM
ArunM
10 years ago

Hi Nishant, trust me – this 'scooter class' discrimination isn't a Gardenia exclusive and neither is it a new phenomenon. During my early career years as a sales exec for one of the world's best known liquor brands, I have faced this numerous times – in New Delhi – in the late '90s, instigating me to buy an M800 despite my meagre sal! I later agnised most 5 star hotels in B'lore (and a few in Hyderabad) followed the same policy; surprised to know it still continues! I would be interested to observe whether the treatment would be the same… Read more »

Bikerdude
10 years ago

Crazy man, sorry to hear this! Was hoping this sorta stuff (thats commonplace in other cities) wouldn't happen in ours! Glad you wrote about it, and hope it reaches them!

Ritesh
10 years ago

Its the same case with the Leela, who expect you to park on the road behind the hotel. Anyway, given people's inclination towards driving a car in Bangalore, most of these hotels will lie empty in a year or two. Wonder what they have to say to people who travel via public transport ??

Hemant Birj
Hemant Birj
10 years ago

I faced a similar situation when I had to attend a company event @ITC gardenia. I was asked to go through the rear entrance which I did. At the rear entrance the guards wanted to know who I am and the purpose behind my visit. They were clueless about my company event when I mentioned it. They kept asking each other what is the procedure to let me inside. Security Guy 1: Kaha jana hain.Me: I am here for the <company> party.SG1 to SG2: He is here for the <company> party. SG2 too also clueless. They ask another SG apparently… Read more »

Karthikeyan Ponnalgau
Karthikeyan Ponnalgau
10 years ago

I guess, it could have been much better if you refused to cover the event and walked off. In your case you had your family/father's car as an option. What about others? Its something your own Media bosses and the Hotel involved here should sort out, how they wanted to carry on forward.. But I would express my sorry for you to felt this way..

abhijit shilotri
abhijit shilotri
10 years ago

It is a matter of shame and disgust…This should make to the headlines in Bangalore Mirror ….its a pity that these hotels and individuals alike treat you looking at your vehicle nishant.

But i guess you should write about this in DNA and make people aware about this treatment

Arun
10 years ago

Very annoying. I would have sulked and left if it wasn't work.

ramya
10 years ago

interesting article. There are two ways of assessing the situation though. 1. Look at it from the Hotel's point of view. Maybe they have experienced people entering their hotel for free food/free towels/soaps/etc. and are just weary of such individuals. Are they type casting individuals based on their social status? Yes. Is type casting and prejudice a form of human self defense? Yes. And in today's day and age it is important to do so, in my opinion at least. 2. The elitist mentality in bangalore is getting out of hand. Yes. But India's suffering from an identity crisis. And… Read more »

Mathew Hugar
10 years ago

I've never thought that this could happen in a 5 star hotel. I was once looking over a list of cheap New York hotelsin order to book some rooms and the restaurant for my birthday. I've chosen one and the hotel stuff almost ruined my party not allowing my Italian friends in. They were not talking English so good and it took them one hour to contact me on my phone.

Santhosh Adiga
Santhosh Adiga
10 years ago

Reminds me of Goa !!

Venkatesh
Venkatesh
10 years ago

This is something that i always wanted to address – I have been there twice on assignment and had to go through the same thing. These guys are embarrassed to let people on two wheelers into their premises. I was asked to use the service entrance that is in the rear of the hotel to get in. And yes you get a badge and you have to list all the stuff you are carrying with serial numbers. No that they cared to check on the way out. I still have the list of items with the security seal on it.… Read more »

chupchap
10 years ago

That sucks.. too bad you were there for an assignment, else you could have said screw you and walked off.

peevee
10 years ago

Hmm.. Thats a bad scene as u mentioned here..
But.. Yup,. few occasions, i had to go through this situation during an event in a hotel for our client. Lucky me(?), they allowed me to park inside the hotel and walk again out to the service entry.

Jalaja
Jalaja
10 years ago

I had a similar experience, not because I went on a two-wheeler, but coz I was carrying a helmet… The said helmets were not allowed in and they didn’t have space to keep it, coz ‘People on two wheelers don’t visit this mall’. I walked off but they did manage to make me feel small…

sharadaprasad
sharadaprasad
10 years ago

But do you really want to earn the respect of people who respect cars and not you or your talent? I use my bicycle on all occasions and I don’t give a damn.

Dhruva
10 years ago

This is nothing … I work for one of top 5 IT services company and our employer used to do this to us – everyday.
Imagine going through this everyday while entering/leaving your office building. (frisking, giving you “stamped” list of things etc)… if you protest, they will say it is “company policy” – ISO, CMM, or some security certification requirement … so they cannot help it.

Dhruva
10 years ago

This is nothing … I work for one of top 5 IT services company and our employer used to do this to us – everyday.
Imagine going through this everyday while entering/leaving your office building. (frisking, giving you “stamped” list of things etc)… if you protest, they will say it is “company policy” – ISO, CMM, or some security certification requirement … so they cannot help it.

P K Rathnakar
P K Rathnakar
10 years ago

These happenings are not due to system failures but because of individual’s capacity to digest the matter. The issue may be taken at appropriate forum for remedial measure so that such instance shall not recur again and again.

ArunM
ArunM
10 years ago

Hi Nishant, trust me – this ‘scooter class’ discrimination isn’t a Gardenia exclusive and neither is it a new phenomenon. During my early career years as a sales exec for one of the world’s best known liquor brands, I have faced this numerous times – in New Delhi – in the late ’90s, instigating me to buy an M800 despite my meagre sal! I later agnised most 5 star hotels in B’lore (and a few in Hyderabad) followed the same policy; surprised to know it still continues! I would be interested to observe whether the treatment would be the same… Read more »

Bikerdude
10 years ago

Crazy man, sorry to hear this! Was hoping this sorta stuff (thats commonplace in other cities) wouldn’t happen in ours! Glad you wrote about it, and hope it reaches them!

Ritesh M Nayak
10 years ago

Its the same case with the Leela, who expect you to park on the road behind the hotel. Anyway, given people’s inclination towards driving a car in Bangalore, most of these hotels will lie empty in a year or two. Wonder what they have to say to people who travel via public transport ??

Hemant Birj
Hemant Birj
10 years ago

I faced a similar situation when I had to attend a company event @ITC gardenia. I was asked to go through the rear entrance which I did. At the rear entrance the guards wanted to know who I am and the purpose behind my visit. They were clueless about my company event when I mentioned it. They kept asking each other what is the procedure to let me inside. Security Guy 1: Kaha jana hain. Me: I am here for the party. SG1 to SG2: He is here for the party. SG2 too also clueless. They ask another SG apparently… Read more »

Karthikeyan Ponnalgau
Karthikeyan Ponnalgau
10 years ago

I guess, it could have been much better if you refused to cover the event and walked off. In your case you had your family/father’s car as an option. What about others? Its something your own Media bosses and the Hotel involved here should sort out, how they wanted to carry on forward.. But I would express my sorry for you to felt this way..

abhijit shilotri
abhijit shilotri
10 years ago

It is a matter of shame and disgust…This should make to the headlines in Bangalore Mirror ….its a pity that these hotels and individuals alike treat you looking at your vehicle nishant.

But i guess you should write about this in DNA and make people aware about this treatment

Arun
10 years ago

Very annoying. I would have sulked and left if it wasn’t work.

ramya
10 years ago

interesting article. There are two ways of assessing the situation though. 1. Look at it from the Hotel’s point of view. Maybe they have experienced people entering their hotel for free food/free towels/soaps/etc. and are just weary of such individuals. Are they type casting individuals based on their social status? Yes. Is type casting and prejudice a form of human self defense? Yes. And in today’s day and age it is important to do so, in my opinion at least. 2. The elitist mentality in bangalore is getting out of hand. Yes. But India’s suffering from an identity crisis. And… Read more »

Mathew Hugar
10 years ago

I’ve never thought that this could happen in a 5 star hotel. I was once looking over a list of cheap New York hotelsin order to book some rooms and the restaurant for my birthday. I’ve chosen one and the hotel stuff almost ruined my party not allowing my Italian friends in. They were not talking English so good and it took them one hour to contact me on my phone.