1968 Bombay Breach Candy from canteen

Julian was still young and inexperienced, and events of late had left him breathless. It hadn’t been long since he’d been transferred to this unfamiliar land with a culture he was desperately striving to understand. In some ways it was all rather exciting but his recent appointment was something he’d never have dreamed of pursuing, and an escalating apprehension gripped him. What if his performance was not to his corporate expectations, and how would he handle work and travel among people whose customs and language he still didn’t understand?

Mumbai was a rather awe inspiring place to be assigned to. Lingering relics of times past testified to a day long ago when it was called the Jewel of the East.* Now it was just another overpopulated city with resources strained to the limit to accommodate human waves constantly descending on it in the hope of a better life.

He’d promised that if his employers allowed him to use a room for his hired house help on the corporate residential compound, he’d be responsible for their behavior, and now he was embarrassed.

The lady was bringing undesirable elements onto the compound, and residents were upset. He’d so much wanted to make a success of his cultural adaptation, but was now faced with confrontation on all sides. The lady refused to move from the assigned quarters when he terminated her employment and with the aid of some of her unsavory friends squatted in the quarters in an act of defiance.

Now these undesirable elements began to threaten the people on the residential compound, and Julian, wishing to establish his authority threatened to call in the police. His pride was at stake.

Then a great thought came to him. Why not lock the lady out of the quarters? While she was out on the town with her friends he placed his own stronger lock over her own. She was effectively locked out now, but her personal belongings remained inside. When she returned home all hell broke loose.

The police did come, but it was Julian who was to be in trouble. Wishing to respect a newcomer to their country the police reasoned with Julian and requested him to remove the lock. There were legal ways to address the problem they said, and the courts should consider such matters. They pointed out the illegality of what he’d done in denying someone legitimate access to home and belongings, but pride caused Julian to be stubborn and he refused to remove the lock. What would his employers think of him if he couldn’t even handle the hired help? What would happen to him now he’d refused that polite request?

Fortunately the corporation heard of the brewing trouble and sent in national workers who knew how to settle expatriate indiscretions. They had long experience dealing with expatriates who’d worked with them over the years, and being sons of the soil knew just the right approach to motivate the police to mercy. They should have been consulted in the first place!

It all worked out for the best after this intervention on Julian’s behalf. A compromise was reached and the lock removed. The police moved the troublesome lady out of the residential compound and issued a stern warning to unruly elements.

Julian breathed a sigh of relief when he thought over his precipitous actions and was glad for experienced counselors provided to save a young expatriate from serious consequences. He’d learned a valuable lesson. It’s always wise to consult before acting in any circumstance and he followed that advice for the rest of his working life.

In hindsight Julian had to ruefully admit, “Pride leads to arguments; be humble, take advice and become wise.” (TLB Proverbs 13:10)

“© copyright Ian Grice 2015 All rights reserved”

For more information on Mumbai visit the following web site

22 thoughts on “JULIAN’S FOLLY

  1. Your post sparked old memories for me. My ex.husband and I moved into an old mining settlement in the Karoo desert and soon ran into similiar diffculties. Fortunately Rick’s employers had a wise solicitor, who’s sole purpose was to extricate ex.pat’s from difficulties. Bless him and his action, otherwise we would have been in a right old pickle. I hope you are having a lovely time with your family. Hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of our girls and her family have returned to the US but we still have one with us for a few more days. It has been a happy experience for us. I think Julian learned a lesson from that experience too. lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A lesson well learned through experience. Hope you are doing better my sweet friend and Georgine is doing well. It was refreshing to get to stop by and read another of your stories. I so enjoy all you write. Thank you for coming by and leaving up anniversary wishes. Take care and I will drop by again when I can. Hugs, Mags

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have been favoured with visits from our children and their families all the way from the US so I’m not online much this month. Thanks so much for visiting. You are one of my original blogging friends and I value your visits.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, that is wonderful! Enjoy every second I know how much it must mean to you and Georgine to have the time with them. You are a wonderful blog friend and I will never not enjoy reading your stories. Hugs to you and Georgine sweet Ian.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually we enjoyed Mumbai, and for that matter the rest of India too. Every 100 klms yields a slightly different culture and there are marked differences between south, centre and north, not to mention the huge gap between city and village life. Great country to visit is Bharat Mata.


  3. Wonderful story. I read your comment to Madhu as well and think I have a partial answer, at least when it comes to Americans abroad. It is always superiority that leads to remarakable acts of stupidity. I saw so many times in my travels Americans bumble and stumble, where they did not need to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Americans are not alone in that. All cultures moving into other cultures for the first time commit some sad mistakes unless they’ve taken the trouble to study the host culture in advance, and even then mistakes are made.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You have a way with words and story telling, Ian, and Julian certainly learned his lesson the hard way. What a great message you convey at the end. Pride never does any good and being humble never does any harm. Enjoy your time away in June!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Madhu. I wonder if it is a feeling of superiority or inferiority that prompts people to try and over achieve at things they’re not mature enough to deal with as a young adult? Thank goodness for good mentors. Thanks for your kind remarks.


    1. Thank you so much. Yes I needed a lot of counsel along the way of my working life and can now look back on it with satisfaction. My daughters with their families will be visiting us from the US through June and we are really looking forward to their visits. Unfortunately we don’t get to see them much now their children are into their upper levels of education. Vacation time in the US doesn’t fit with our vacation times here in Australia unfortunately and schools find ways to keep them all occupied even in vacation time with exchange programs and tours.

      Liked by 1 person

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