Wednesday, November 01, 2006

No outsiders, please

I was refused entry at a club last night. It wasn't the first time it's happened out here but it's soured the whole Regensburg experience for me.

I've been partying a lot for the last week with M and his Bavarian friends. Last week, his dorm had a huge party. There were at least 1000 people there and it was a mad, mad party. Even though I felt horribly old compared to all the students there, I had a great time. I was also the only non-white person out there and I got stared at a lot, though considering how provincial and small minded this place is, it didn't affect me. I was told on many occasions by many students that I was the first Indian they'd met or seen. Considering how many places Indians have settled in, it shows how remote this place is.

On Saturday, I met up with M and some of his other friends and after a lot of bar hopping, I was very drunk by midnight. We headed out to a club and I was in a good mood, speaking bad German in a deliberate Indian accent to make everyone laugh. Maybe I was a bit too loud, but we weren't allowed in. I don't remember much of what happened that night, but I remember after being refused at a second club, I snapped, cursed the bouncer and just left. M and his friends couldn't see where I went and after walking very aimlessly through the streets of R'burg trying to not get too angry, I reached home at 5 in the morning. Woke up in the afternoon, hungover and called up M. He said we weren't allowed in because I was too drunk - something I half believed.

Last night, J from Munich showed up and 6 of us went to some other dorm party and then headed out to the old town. It's especially lively and all of them kept talking about how lively and fun Regensburg is with its high density of bars and cafes. With its very well preserved old town, cobbled streets and cosy cafes it is a fun place to walk around at night with lots of people flitting in and out of all the bars and clubs. They're very proud of Bavaria and Regensburg and I kept nodding along. Then, we went to another club and this time I was completely sober, stood quietly behind them in a big crowd. As we were getting in, the bouncer looked at me, stopped us and said something I couldn't understand. I could see everyone's face drop and they didn't even bother arguing. Apparently, he said no foreigners. It felt weird, and this time I didn't snap, curse or do anything. Just shrugged my shoulders and said let's get something to eat at the closest Lebanese Doner Kebap joint.

I've decided not to remind M and his friends, or the faculty about this. When I told the faculty about the ticket I got for riding my bike without a light, I could see them squirm, as it only happens to foreigners. It hasn't affected me much and since I know I'm here for just another month, I don't want to put a label on everyone from Bavaria because of a couple of jerks. Discrimination on the basis of race, caste, religion, etc happens everywhere I guess but somehow I'd never encountered something so blatant.

26 comments:

MiddleRoad said...

you mean to say that you have never been called a malech when you were in south india, or refused entry into puri temple because your father did not give his caste name...I am sorry that you had this experience but do think that an self aware guy like you can only be enriched by it.

bandafbab said...

I don't know if I've been enriched by it but I didn't lead as sheltered a life in India as you might think. I was just a bit stunned at how blatantly the bouncer stopped me and said no foreigners allowed. As I said, discrimination exists everywhere but this was something which really surprised me.

Tabula Rasa said...

ouch. that's disgusting.

Beks said...

I'd have been really upset - shocking as this may seem - I don't think I've ever experienced any discrimination

anshuman said...

It could be that you actually were really drunk the first time. Bouncers typically make that judgement call. The second time, well, the guy was a dick. I would've shot off a letter to the local or national newspapers or atleast written to the management.
Anyway, if the discrimination is not systemic then its not so bad. People have the right to be bigoted.

anshuman said...

middleroad: how on earth can one be enriched by being treated like shit? btw, if you want to get enriched I can totally help you out.

Nishant said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shilpa said...

i was refused breakfast service at a Cracker Barrel in Virginia. so it doesn't matter if you're drunk or sober, if it's night or day. there are ignorant morons wherever you go. plenty in India, too. it's enriching in the sense to see how universal human nature is... cheer up, you'll be in France soon! :)

Anshuman said...

human nature is by definition universal.( or we'd be talking about indian nature or german nature). That people are more or less the same everywhere is a prior for most people, though there may be some provincial lot(or people from multan) who realize this only after they've been discriminated against. But even for these lot, what is the marginal enrichment value beyond the first incident?

Anyway, I doubt if this is what middleroad was referring to.

MiddleRoad said...

I hate all belgians and bigots.
I guess that maybe you are right about marginal enrichment. I just believe that it is good for us to be jolted out of our comfort zones every once in a while.

bandafbab said...

Apart from writing about it on my blog, I've decided to just ignore it. These provincial, small town people can stay stuck in their 18th century mindset. I guess if I'd just visited for a few days or a week, I would have had a different experience. Somehow in the US, it was always far more subtle and innocent (if at all) and in 7 years it never bothered me at all. But in the space of a month, 2 experiences with the cops where they wanted me to prove it was my bike, lingering looks almost everywhere and not being allowed into a club, haven't made it the most happy time. I have another month to go but I'll be glad to be out of here and head to Paris.

hans said...

this behaviour (the bouncer's) is - of course - intolerable. i would know an appropriate way to react here in Austria. there is an ngo dealing with exactly the problem you described. unfortunately your story fits in the view and experience i have on/with bavaria (militantly catholic, bigot,...) which is the reason i wouldn't wanna live there (not even for two months). paris will be different, but you know: stupid people - you'll find them all over the world.

bandafbab said...

Shilpha and middleroad,

I still don't see this as enriching. Nor does anyone need to be jolted out of a comfort zone like this. Even before the nightclub incident, I'd experienced a couple of incidents which made me feel a bit uncomfortable about being an outsider and didn't have any illusions about it being a perfect place.

Hans,

Do you know who's moved to Paris? Ben. Someone from outa town will be showing up at his flat soon. Hopefully, Paris will be as much fun as Vienna. Maybe you should show up once I get a place.

Anonymous said...

Middleroad,

The comfort zone stuff makes sense in general though I don't think it applies in Bandafbab's case. I don't think he has ever had a rosy picture of things. I suppose you were just making a general point.

I too have never faced any racism(or even gotten any looks) in the US but that could be because I'm in a university on the East coast. People have been very nice.

-Anshuman
didn't want to bother logging on.

Sash said...

Never faced much racism in the US except for the one time in a Russian bar in DC. We were the only non-white crowd and one old Russian/European bugger looked at me and my Latina friend coming in and said very loudly “that’s why I stopped coming to this place. They let all sorts of people in.” Doubt I felt enriched by the experience. But then being from Assam, I have faced racism (and name-calling) in Delhi too and somehow that always felt much worse.

Anonymous said...

hey sash,

were you called anything other than a chinki? The really sickening part in delhi is how the police(men) and some men first equate women from NE with foreign women and "therefore" conclude that they're easy.

Anshuman

Max said...

Now Aftab, I must put some things straight here. You're portraying Regensburg as an extremely racist place which is simply not true.

The second time we went to the club and didn't get in had nothing to do with you. The bouncer simply said it was too full. Several other of my friends didn't get in either.
And the bouncer never said, no foreigners allowed.

And Aftab, you were really drunk the first time. As you said, you can't remember much of that evening.

And you are really overdoing the whole racism thing. You are NOT the only foreigner in this town. In fact, over 10% of Regensburg's inhabitants are.

Wolfram said...

Hi Aftab,

just a commment on Tuesday night:
we were standing with our group of 4 in this huge queue in front of the place which was already packed.

We were told by the bouncer that no people but with an invitation are let into. He didn't mention anything about foreigners.

In my opinion you misunderstood the situation. Maybe we just didn't communicate the story wholly to you as we were irritated as well.

fatterbelly said...

Quite often foreigners esp Indians as foriegners in an all white environment tend to be extra sensitive and see slights and slurs where it may not have been intended.Many years ago R.S a very good looking senior U.N official and I wre refused entry in a sleazy Bangkok bar/club not known for discimination or discernment.In Bangkok!I don't think much should be read into a provincial town's lack of comfort with foreigners. It can be due to many other factors such as shyness vis a vis alien cultures , fear of alien temperaments/ mannerisms , not wanting a party of disparate strangers etc which is not necessarily bigotism.So cool it.

bandafbab said...

If it wasn't for the cops pulling me over more than once, wanting me to prove it's my bike, asking for all kinds of details as if I was a convict, maybe I would have been cooler about the whole thing.

And I didn't say Regensburg or Bavaria is extremely racist. It seems to have more jerks (that's what you two called the bouncer that day) than normal. I distinctly remember you two saying that he said no outside residents - nothing about invitations.

Anyway, I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Max said...

You misunderstood us.
He said "nur für Stammgäste", which is the equivalent to "people I know, who always come here". Don't know the correct translation for that.
It just makes me really sad, that you will be leaving this city with an opinion like that.

bandafbab said...

The one last thing I'm going to say about this is that I'm not a 20 yr old kid on his first trip outside India. I spent 2 years in a small town in Kansas and I never reacted like this. I've been to quite a few places where I've been the only brown face but I don't feel insecure or shy. In one month in R'burg I've had more of these encounters than anywhere else, which is why I got so pissed off. If I had to overreact I would have gone to the police or a newspaper.

amitabha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

my two cents: sure, right, nods to everyone's opinions on racism ranging from enrichment value to the over-sensitive victim theory etc. but i will say that i found germany quite racist. i havent traveled much and yes, coming from the states, everything looks a little politically incorrect. but i'm not talking about all that. i'm talking about a place where i spent some time, which i got to love, and where i got a lot of love, as well as quite a bit of shit that made me go "whaaat?!?!"
and, yes Stammgaeste means regulars, but NOT members. being denied entry on any other grounds than membership or something - whether presumptiously protecting my own or somebody else's sentiments is not an acceptable explanation or apology. Nicht wahr?

Bea said...

Whether it's the snake to my mongoose or the mongoose to my snake, either way it's bad.

scott davidson said...

Nice way to decorate your walls. I have never done that. My effort to beautify the walls in my house was to order big-sized canvas prints from wahooart.com, from images of western art. I use the same angel motifs in all of the rooms painted by different painters, such as this one by very interesting English artist Stanley Spencer, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT7K6