Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What The Bhramin Said To The Dalit, The Peer To The Precariat

In both the Indian Caste System and the British Class System, there are indisputable pinnacles, India having its god trinity occupied by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; and the United Kingdom with whatever current King or Queen currently drawing  their unearned and undeserved stipend. England's Anglican god is only an ersatz Catholic created by Henry VIII, so there isn't much to be said about the Church of England and cultural authority, William Gladstone dead now for nearly 115 years. 

In India, with a middle-class population larger than a total population of the United States; and England, along with the other autonomous kingdoms, old and well-established class orders or hierarchies have historically assigned individual societal position according to where you were born and your parent's financial situation, implying an inherent attitude admonishing anyone daring to cross invisible lines and barriers. Here in the United States, we see that blacks are still dealing with racism's long and sorry legacy.  As the American writer Kurt Vonnegut might have said, "So It goes."

In the Indian Caste System,the Bahamians are considered the upper crust, the cream of Indian society while the untouchables, or dalits, are the remnants of a charred pan. Traditional British society features the established upper middle classes as the elites, just one small step beneath princes and dukes, with the precariat making up a large economic underclass, living an existence not unlike described in the two Charles Dickens' novels "David Copperfield" and "Hard Times," whose characters lived unpredictable and insecure lives.

I can identify personally with the concept, having once been in a relationship with, for me, the infamous Carol Anne, she native to that "precariat" English village Bacup, situated and located in the South Pennines mountain range just north of Manchester. Carol Anne, talented, vivacious and very pretty, and unfortunately, also very crazy, managed to disguise her very humble beginning until I saw Bacup for myself, demystifying what was occurring between us, clearly explaining everything. 

Maybe that is why I am so drawn to Anita Brookner's novels, presenting the world of the British "pampered" classes, a world quite opposite of down and dirty Bacup.  Just a few weeks ago I finished her novel "Dolly" which was a terrific example of cream and crumpets at teatime served by the faithful housekeeper. Oh to suffer with an overflowing bank account!  I personally will take that kind of perceived misery any time of Empire day.  Let me cry and wail with a full stomach, please!

As I have mentioned many times, cabbies know all about the local American version of  societal apartheid, scorned and shunned, assigned to secondary categories in neglected corners. In fact it is probably the very worse part of the taxi experience, and of course explaining why municipalities across the country have failed to protect a regulated industry from a predatory Uber. Why assist the morally criminal?   Would you?

The attitude, as long as I can remember, is "you deserve what you get," along with the accompanying "and don't you forget it!"  As much behavior is imitative, it isn't surprising many feel naturally superior to the taxi driver, without any hesitation grinding the cabbie beneath their soiled heel.  One such incident occurring Saturday illustrates when hallucinatory superiority meets perceived inferiority.  I couldn't have been more surprised, and presented as a kind of modern parable or paint-by-number scenario posing as didactic morality, it is a shocking specimen of boorish and uncalled for behavior, caused simply by the tapping of a horn.

On my way to a call, Duke's Chowder House at Green Lake, I came up from Ballard, finding myself  at an east-bound intersection on Phinney Avenue & North 59th Street across from a local 7-11 store and adjacent to the Seattle Zoo.  A car was stopped directly in front of me minus any turn signals indicating where the driver was going which had to be either left or right because straight ahead translated into a collision with a very large and quite stationary sign.  Needing to know just where he was heading, I tapped lightly upon 478's horn in an attempt to get the driver's attention.  If he was turning to the right I would then quickly take my left turn and be on my way over Phinney and across Aurora North and to Duke's. 

What should have been simple suddenly escalated, with the driver getting out of his car and walking over to my cab, blocking my way.  Whenever I attempted to leave, he stepped in front of 478, incensed that I honked.  I asked why, telling him that he couldn't do what he was doing and wouldn't be doing it within view of the police.

Superior and justified, he made it clear I had no right or permission to comment in any way upon his conduct, that simply he could stay parked at Phinney and North 59th until our sun expired 4 billion years from now.  Committing multiple felonies was of no concern given who he was addressing.  Normally I would just call 911 but I had passengers to pickup, having no time for such silliness.  I was also taken aback by all of it, it being completely nonsensical.

Finally he relented, perhaps understanding he might soon find  himself arrested, allowing me to make my turn and get on to what I was doing.  Another aspect of this is that any gun-loving, gun-toting All-American could have justifiably shot the fool on the spot.  How stupid it would have been if he had been killed over nothing whatsoever.

As I said, this gentleman had the Brahman permission to to whatever was necessary to the taxi untouchable, scripture anointing his actions.  What is funny is that I am sure his performance was noted by the 7-11 surveillance cameras.  As is obvious during this paranoid era we are sharing, none of us are alone, someone or something publicly watching and noting our every move.  Thinking about it, this guy was, at least at that moment, diagnostically insane, needlessly endangering me and him and potentially others.  How did the honking of a horn injure him, especially since it was his inaction prompting my inquiry? 

Lately I have been saying that the average Seattle resident acts like an auto horn is some kind of new audible death ray.  Why?  What is going on?  It isn't like Seattle is a quiet environment and horns and other noises an insult upon a shared peace.  The man involved was upper-middle class.  Maybe that is the reason, that alone permission enough to destroy all rabble in his path.  It appears to be that way. 

Nationally everyone is pointing toward South Carolina as a source of unreasonable anger and hatred.  I suggest everyone instead begin at home.  Seattle is extremely angry culturally, road rage an everyday occurrence.  And this is one of America's most literate cities. Then why so dumb, Seattle, why so dumb? 


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  2. I used to live in the next village to Bacup and must agree that it's definitely humble.