At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Several years ago I worked part-time at an Indian Restaurant. Part of the deal, when you work in restaurants, is that your meal is included. How on earth could you recommend the food if you've never even tasted it? And that also benefits the proprietor, because informed and interested staff is a potent tool for quality control.
Even as the gaura khazanchi ('white cashier'), I had a vested interest in maintaining standards.

I never got food-poisoning there. Yet I met several people who told me they felt ill after eating Indian food. Reason always being, as subsequent questioning revealed, that they were severely food-phobic.
They feared taste. And never used spices.

Some people even opined that the ONLY reason to spice things up was to mask perfectly horrid main ingredients. "Surely", they averred, "if the food was totally fresh, there would be no need for all that muck?"
A few even suggested that cat, rat, and dead dog were common.

Based on my own experiences, I can assure you that cat, rat, and dead dog are extremely uncommon. You will most likely find them at French restaurants ("une belle ragoƻt de chat, rat, et le chien mort"), as bribing the San Francisco Health Department into approving those for consumption will cost an arm and a leg.

Besides which, Swami-ji, Prakash, and Jagminder Singh will commit mayhem if they ever get served something like that, when what they really wanted was murgh makhni (tender tandoori chicken chunks in a lovely tomato - butter -cream emulsion, with touches of dark toasted cumin, cayenne, garam masala), paneer tikka (spiced compressed cottage cheese grilled and served with an onion relish), hot fresh buttery naan (delicious toasty soft flatbread), and aam-achar (a pickle made of unripe sliced mango with turmeric, mustard, hot chili, salt, and heated mustard oil).
It would upset their equanimity if that were to occur.
They're disturbed enough already.
Do not piss them off.

As for the French and their weird eating-habits, meh.
Bally stupid gaura-log.

"Indians always cook smelly curries"

In Singapore, which prides itself on the spectrum of cuisine available, the spiciness and saveur of local specialties, and the sheer verve and gusto of its food culture, many landlords refuse to rent to Indians.
The reason being that while the English have gone totally foreign in their gustatory tastes, the Singaporeans have become increasingly Victorian in their sensibilities and attitudes.
Si peh haolian, kayu.


Singapore, in case you didn't know, started as a coolie colony where poncy Brits lorded it over desperately underpaid labourers, dealt opium, spread venereal disease, and trans-shipped tropical crops grown and harvested by starving peasants. As a port city of empire, a large portion of the population arrived poor, remained poor, and died poor.
The terms "nasty", "smelly", "exploited", and "brutalized" were applicable.
Not all of it though, and not for everybody; social circles in which no Chinese, Indians, Malays, and Arabs were allowed did exist. Those being the environment in which tea, whisky pani, and gin pahits were common, everyone addressed the white master as 'tuan' and his wife as 'memsahib', and the best dressed natives wore servant-garb.
Colonialism collapsed after World War Two, and under the leadership of Lee Kwan Yew et al, Singapore changed from a rowdy working-class hellhole with communist labour agitators and violent social activists to a little slice of stolidly middle-class Mandarin and English speaking heaven. A more western and consumerite society can scarcely be imagined, especially in that part of the world.
It's very civilized.

[The servants are now all Indonesians and Filipinos, but still desperately underpaid, often maltreated, and without legal protection. Maid abuse is common; they're almost like the Arab world in that respect.]

A profoundly British attitude prevails.
Neo-British. Somersetian.
A slice of shire.

Cites from a BBC article:

"I called up several landlords who had listed rooms for rent. Things would start out OK, maybe because of my accent - but the moment they heard my name, they'd blank out. Many said 'sorry, we don't rent to these people', or 'sorry, no room for Indians'. I told them that Sri Lanka was not India, that I wouldn't eat or cook in the apartment, and that I would be outside all day. But still, they wouldn't offer me a room."

[Sunil, quoted above, is a Sri Lankan who lived in Blighty for several years.]

Okay, casual housing discrimination. We can recognize that. Offensive, but not at all uncommon. Here in San Francisco we prefer not to rent to Republicans or Christians, because of their bad aura.

"A quick glance at online rental listings shows many that include the words: "no Indians, no PRCs [People's Republic of China]"

A count on 24 April found that there were more than 160 housing adverts on the website PropertyGuru that clearly stated that the landlord did not wish to rent to Indians and/or mainland Chinese."

Sounds like all is not well in the Lee Family capitalist heaven, eh?

"Singapore's government places a strong emphasis on racial harmony. Studies suggest that there is relatively little racial discrimination in the public sphere, but things can be different in private."

[Source: 'No Indians No PRCs': Singapore's rental discrimination problem.]

Judging by this, Singapore may have a Hokkien problem.
Tisk, tisk.

My landlord here in San Francisco has never objected to the smells of curry that for over twenty years have been issuing from my apartment.

Nor the fabulous reek of shrimp-paste, dried fish, garlic, and fermenting vegetables.

But that's probably because we live in San Francisco, where food is king, and many languages are spoken. We place a strong emphasis on culinary harmony, and there is relatively little culinary bias.

Of course, we haven't spent the last half century trying to become more English than the English, either.

Except for the sexual bit. In that regard, we're very Public School.

But minor peccadilloes must be forgiven.


In all fairness, I must mention that many ethnic Chinese landlords in San Francisco much prefer renting to white people rather than anybody else, even their own fellow villagers, because "white people rarely use the kitchen, don't fry, and send their laundry out". So there is absolutely no wear and tear on the property. Although they do belly-ache about maintenance an awful lot.
But white people belly-ache about many things.
You can usually let it slide.

As long as they don't wreck the place and swing from the chandeliers while engaged in their very British sexual practises, white people are wonderful tenants.
Remember, they rarely use the kitchen.
They're perfect.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older