[Reader-list] No Pizza, No Cry

Naeem Mohaiemen naeem.mohaiemen at gmail.com
Mon Apr 7 12:34:26 IST 2008

The post about pizza in Jamia reminded me of a similar (but
disconnected) topography vis-a-vis food deliveries & taxi rides to the
inner city, black/latino dominated areas of New York. For a long time,
black residents used to complain that Chinese restaurants and pizza
parlors (often run by asian immigrants) would not deliver to their
areas. I first started noticing this issue after talking to Domino's
delivery boys (on bikes) in New York, many of whom are Bangali. The
Bangalis would respond, "bhayya, you can say this is not right, but
after being mugged three times on three deliveries, you will also not
want to deliver there."

Ironically, the most successful (and shit food) joints in the inner
city seems to be the ubiquitous fried chinese joint, with its total
encasing of bulletproof glass.

New York taxi drivers have similar complaints against them-- of not
wanting to make drop-offs to Harlem, etc. There was a famous incident
of actor Danny Glover being refused to sit in front seat (drivers are
afraid of getting mugged in that situation because there's no
bulletproof glass divider there) after which he held a full-bore press
conference and New York was abuzz with this topic for 3 weeks (after
which, predictably, some sex scandal broke and it was all forgotten.

I have heard two sides of this multi-prong debate. African-American
friends who have millions of stories of taxis refusing to pick them up
(the feeling of offense seems higher if they are a successful banker--
class trumps race, or not). South Asian taxi drivers who talk of how
often they get mugged, and where they get mugged, and end by saying-->
"if 75% of all taxi muggings happen north of 110th street, what do you
ask me to do? be racially sensitive and risk getting killed? or be a
racist and live". I have never known what could possibly be the
tenable position to take in this whole debate. That South Asian
migrants  absorb the racism of the system they are making their way in
is undeniable. But economic necessity and class warfare intersect and
poison/muddy this debate as well.  I feel that somewhere in all this
is tenable progressive position, but not yet articulated.

There are also books like TAXI! by Biju Matthews (New Press), that
look at cabbies as the new exploited permanent underclass of New York.
What a tragedy that this underclass has to failed to build any
solidarity alliance with America's permanent african american
underclass. The lack of unity came to the surface very quickly after
2001, when south asians became the new racial profiling target, and
iTSA security jobs where often filled by african americans and
latinos. Each minority community gains at the expense of another.
Until of course the pendulum turns, again. It was only a decade ago
that Vijay Prashad was asking in KARMA OF BROWN FOLK, inverting
Dubois, to South Asians "how does it feel to be a solution?"  That all
seems hopelessly dated now.

Fear and loathing in the big city...

Message: 5
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2008 06:11:10 +0100 (BST)
From: "S.Fatima" <sadiafwahidi at yahoo.co.in>
Subject: [Reader-list] No Pizzas for Muslims (of Jamia Nagar)
To: sarai <reader-list at sarai.net>
Message-ID: <632909.23204.qm at web8415.mail.in.yahoo.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Fast-food chains don't deliver in Delhi's Muslim

Fast-food chains like Domino's and McDonald's usually
refuse home delivery in Jamia Nagar (in Delhi
city)even though this dominantly Muslim neighbourhood,
famed for its Jamia Islamia University, is close to
their New Friends Colony (NFC) outlets. By the way,
Jamia Nagar is not just another unplanned stinky
ghetto--it has wide roads, spacious houses, and proper
addresses. (See the story: Jamia Nagar - Delhi's Rich
Muslim Ghetto)

"We don't deliver there," was the reply when The Delhi
Walla called up Domino's (011-26933951-56) at NFC.
Different responses on different calls: "we are
sorry", or "we haven't started our service there yet."

Ditto with McDonald's. "There are areas we don't
deliver to and Jamia Nagar is one of them," says the
lady manning the McDelivery desk. According to
McDonald's India North & East, "McDelivery ascertain
the delivery area on various internal assessments
including the convenience and safe accessibility of
the area within the permissible timeframe."

OK, fair enough.

It takes less then 10 minutes to drive to Jamia Nagar
from McDoanld's. So is the place not safe enough? An
unusually forthcoming employee at Domino's said, "It's
not a good area. We deliver there only to special

Who are these mysterious special customers?

At least author Ms. Rakshanda Jalil, a Jamia Nagar
resident who recently had luminaries like Khushwant
Singh and Sheila Dikshit (Delhi Chief Minister no
less) attending her book launch, is not special
enough. She couldn't coax Domino's to deliver Veggie
Delight with extra olives for her two daughters.

"They go to faraway blocks of New Friends Colony and
were delivering as far as Sarita Vihar but they won't
come here which is closer", says Ms. Jalil.

Now listen to the outlets' unofficial excuses:
"customers there don't pay", "addresses are usually
given wrong", and--this takes the pizza—"The Jamia
University students forcibly take pizza boxes from
delivery boys."

Then why is Pizza Hut able to deliver, and deliver
successfully, to Jamia Nagar?

A quick phone call put things in perspective. Yes,
Pizza Hut does deliver in Jamia Nagar. Yes, they have
never faced problems. But sorry, they don't deliver
after 7 pm. Reason? Traffic jam! Really? That's
laughable. Jamia is essentially an university campus
with verdant grounds and quiet libraries. Hardly the
stuff traffic jams are made of.

Ms. Jalil says, "Nobody uses the M word. But clearly,
they don't go 'out there' because a different sort of
species resides out there!"

Achha, those Mussalmaans!


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