Hyderabad: In a world undergoing introspection and coming out on racism in the sweeping era of the globally trending #BlackLivesMatter #BLM, Hyderabad’s retail businesses of food, restaurants, bakeries, pubs, fashion boutiques and jewellery is being questioned for their practices of discrimination and class bias.
Eminent columnist Veturi Srivatsa said, bemoaning this neo-cultural aberration, “Last time I was in Hyderabad, I stayed at Madhapur at my daughter’s place. I used to see these upmarket swanky shops but never felt like entering. I have noticed some places recognise their clients by their position and sartorial elegance. Oh, my Hyderabad! This is not the city I spent best years of my life, proudly talking of its culture.”
Discrimination at Concu
A few days ago at Concu, a patisserie, located in Jubilee Hills, P Gauri, a management professional, took her young nephew to order a cake for his upcoming birthday.
After months of lockdown, without a single birthday party in sight ahead, she felt a colourful customised cake with his favourite cartoon characters might cheer him up.
The staff at Concu, with practised ease of singling out customers with subjective social profiling, asked them to leave the shop because it was Covid times and instead order through phone.
As she stepped out and sat in the car to make the call and order, the staff interacted with other customers in the store. another sedan pulled in and the lady inside with her child entered. When she questioned the manager, on phone, he clarified that they were “regular” customers and it was picksups and deliveries.
This incident was put up on Facebook with the hashtag #BoycottConcu and #EndSocialRacism. The pent-up emotion exploded and within 24 hours, the post received overwhelming support of Hyderabad’s customers, many of whom had the same kind of tales to narrate.
Within 24 hours, the post was shared by 75 people and had 200 comments directly, after which it went viral across several degrees of separation. As the idea pushed forward, it has started to acquire momentum of a people’s movement, and #EndSocialRacism began getting more power from common Hyderabadis.
“Once I went to a swanky place in Banjara Hills in 2013 with my mom who was visiting me. They refused to let us in just because my mother was wearing a saree. Their excuse was this is not a family place. I was so young back then to not realise it was unfair and an example of prejudice.”
Namburi Poorna Chandrasekhar:
“A lot of such things remain unsaid. We must have the courage to name and shame such outlets. It has happened with me too at multiple premium outlets, including at car showrooms.”
“I had similar experience with them (Consu) a few years back. I had been there on my wife’s interest; she is an amateur baker. I was with my wife and son on my very middle-class car and attire. I understood the moment I entered that we are un-welcome.”
Mohan Guruswamy (eminent economist and former advisor to ministry of finance, government of India, and a Harvard alum):
“Good (you spoke out). I am taking these fellows off my list.”
Seetha Anand Vaidyam:
“Horrible. I will boycott this place for sure. Anyway I have no liking for their maida and sugar filled stuff. What you said makes it even more distasteful.”
“Had a similar experience when I went there. I wondered if I was reading too much between the lines. The counter staff were disinterested in even responding. The security were looking at me as if I had turned up at a wrong address, like a mistake. They probably think people who come in cabs, or don’t look too fair, should visit. I never visited them again or even order from them on Swiggy.”
“I wonder what they see in a client that makes them feel their services cannot be offered to them, in today’s world. Unquestionable reverence for regressive social systems? If walking in with a mask doesn’t teach them we are all same at the end of the day, I don’t know what will.”
Ekta Viiveck Verma:
“Terrible. Will make sure I don’t visit them. I had a similar experience at Labonel. They didn’t even want to talk to me because I asked for the price of their cupcakes. I found some equally amazing home bakers and I would rather support them then such arrogant establishments.”
“They take our online money and welcome orders on Swiggy but feel free to insult our in-person presence.”