Meghalaya woman ‘racially abused’, asked to leave Delhi Golf Club over her ‘maid’s dress’
New Delhi, June 27: A Khasi woman from Meghalaya was allegedly racially abused and asked to leave the premises of the posh Delhi Golf Club in the national capital over her traditional dress, jainsem, on Sunday.
According to the officials of the club, the traditional attire of the woman looked like a "maid's uniform" and their rulebook does not allow domestic helps inside the place.
The incident happened when Tailin Lyngdoh accompanied her employer Nivedita Barthakur, an entrepreneur and honorary adviser to the Assam health department, to the club. Lyngdoh works as a governess in Barthakur's house.
Barthakur and Lyngdoh visited the club as they were invited for lunch by a club member. In spite of Barthakur raising her protest over the behaviour of the club officials, both the women were forced to leave the place.
"We were invited for lunch at the Delhi Golf Club. We were all seated and the lunch was almost to be served. Suddenly the club officials came to me and asked me to leave the place," Lyngdoh told IANS.
"I enquired the reason. They told me that the dress (jainsem) I was wearing was a maid's uniform. They even said that I look like a dustbin," said a visibly upset Lyngdoh.
"The attire comprises of two pieces of fabrics which are either tied or pinned at the shoulders and is worn either below the knee or ankle length. The jainsem is generally worn with a blouse and a petticoat underneath," said Meghalaya's leading designer Daniel Syiem, who has showcased ethnic apparel in global fashion hubs like New York, London and Rome.
Later, Barthakur narrated the entire episode on Facebook.
"An example of... bigotry, chauvinism and ignorance: many of us have been slighted in the capital of India for being from the Northeast and have lived to tell our tales!" Barthakur said in a Facebook post.
"Today, Tailin Lyngdoh, an extremely proud Khasi lady who has travelled the world in her jainsem (sic) from London to UAE was thrown out of the Delhi Golf Club because her dress was taken for a maid's uniform! Despite her being invited in her own right as a guest of a member...."
Barthakur said only those at her table had protested. "There must have been 50 (other) people at the club and no one said a word. We walked out. As we left, the two persons said, 'Pata nahin kahan kahan se chale aate hain (Don't know where these people come from).
"I turned around and told them that they had not seen the last of this. They responded by saying 'Kar lo jo karna hai (Do what you wish)'."
Barthakur, a doctor by profession, lived in London for nine years and was a consultant for the UK and other European countries on health policy. She now lives in Abu Dhabi.
Tailin, a native of Mairang, about 50km east of Shillong, said she had never been treated this way before.
"I have lived in London and Abu Dhabi for nearly 10 years now, and everyone I meet says that I look very nice in the jainsem," she said.
Barthakur said that she was planning to approach higher authorities to get justice.
"I'm contacting activists and lawyers and we might approach the National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes as this is a case of discrimination," she said.
Barthakur lamented over the fact that the people of northeast India often face racial slurs outside their homeland. She also pointed out how domestic helps are inhumanely treated by most Indians.
"The room was full of Delhi elites who make their maids and nannies wait outside in the heat.... It was so appalling at many levels: that a citizen of India is judged on her dress and treated as a pariah; that... human rights of so many citizens can be trampled on just because he or she earns an honest living as a help. And that mainland India still has to be educated on their countrymen seven decades after freedom," she wrote.
"And what is this hangover that we are whiter than whites and frown upon Indian wear in these hallowed bastions!"
Delhi Golf Club President Siddharth Shriram told IANS that he had no knowledge of the incident and had received no such complaint.
A former Delhi Golf Club president who did not want to be identified by name told IANS: "We do have a strict dress code. Just what happened in this case, I can't say."
The entire episode once again highlighted the everyday discrimination and racial abuse faced by the northeastern people living in various parts of the country.