Exclusive New Haagen-Dazs in Delhi: Sorry, No Indians Allowed

Guest blogged by justasikh

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Every so often you come across news that your mind struggles to believe is real.

Is this real? A joke? Either way, the reaction is likely as interesting as the cause.

Haagen Dazs, a prolific producer of ice cream the world over approves a new location to be opened in Delhi, India. So far, so good.

Theres an emerging middle class lusting after one another’s things like an episode of the 1960s Mad Men. Lots of international travelers. Connaught Place. Lally Singh and his lovely motorcycle shop.

Now, we have Haagen-Dazs. Its the unevolved Kulfi, evolved. Made how it should be, I guess?

Look what is in Delhi!

Gives new meaning to having a case of the dreadful and queasy Delhi-belly.

So, lets see this train wreck coming from a mile away. Allow the self-annointed linguist in me to protest.

Exclusive Preview How do you preview ice cream?

For International travelers – International travelers to India, or Indian citizens who travel abroad?

Then, the icing on the cake.

Access restricted only to holders of international passports.

That means you, 1 billion Indians trying to not be Indian.

Where could this go? An Indian outraged they are being excluded?

Well, some might say welcome to the North American experience for Indians. Others might argue India is good at abusing its own people, but when it comes time for someone else to abuse them we have a major incident. Still, others might laugh, and others, while taking a break from consumerism, wonder if theyre living in the British Raj again.

Whats even more interesting about this franchise?

This location of Haagen-Dazs has apparently been opened by an Indian. For serious.

What images, or ideas could have gone through an Indians mind for a vunderphul visage of venerably ice creamic mind blowing swaadhness?

Exhibit 1:

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Oh, wait, they didnt have neon signs in the British Raj. The ominous red glow did remind me of the grand Injan sunsets.

Exhibit 2:

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Sorry, wrong Indians being barred in British Columbia, Canada. That looks like a 2004 Chevy Lumina in the back though. Those chevys are like a rock.

Exhibit 3:

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Ah, thats more like it. A picture of an ice cream. A creamy treat nicely kept upright with strategically placed popsicle sticks in a sturdy packaging to not allow leakage. The ice cream bar is delivered by dutiful Indians (I hope).

Maybe the owner simply confused an ice cream bar, with the image above. Can anyone say they havent heard stranger explanations when visiting India? I rest my case.

I am sure the keyboard warriors in all of us are dying to dissect and express outrage of one kind or another. Please, bear with me.

Heres what hit me, and why I had to write the above, before I say what Im about to.

Why is this surprising?

As a Canadian/American, India is this foreign and exotic land of snake charmers, rubies, turbans, belly dancers, and butter chicken. And anything else we might see on The Office.

As an Indian, isnt Canada/America a foreign and exotic land of whatever is advertised?

Is what we have here is two cultures/societies, doing the same exoticization of the other?

Granted, in North America, Indianness is generally exoticized to the point of having an indian, where its quickly eaten, digested, and excreted. See this brilliant video that outlines the point beautifully.

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In India, is the foreign and exotically hot Haagen-Dazs, or any other foreign brand simply eaten, digested, and excreted? I would argue not.

This, in turn refers me to the brilliant talk given by Shashi Tharoor at TED about Why nations should pursue soft power.

The contents of his speech summarize, India is fast becoming a superpower, — not just through trade and politics, but through “soft” power, its ability to share its culture with the world through food, music, technology, Bollywood. He argues that in the long run it’s not the size of the army that matters as much as a country’s ability to influence the world’s hearts and minds.

By that definition, did Bollywood and butter chicken just bow to the Haagen Dazs, inside of india? One act of desert leading to desertion? Could some North American NRIs possibly, feel, cool, walking into this place?

India is a soft power for sure. Where its products ARE consumed, how they want it to be. Bollywood over the punjabi/sardarji representation with NRIS (mostly Punjabis) around the world. Bollywood has fantastic penetration in Europe and Africa compared to any other Indian export, political, financial, or commercial.

India has a long history of enjoying soft power over its own people, whether they are the majority or a minority.

What could this mean?

The person who tells the best story wins. Bollywood wins over its targets when the other group doesnt tell good stories. Haagen-Dazs wins when Bollywood cant tell a better story. As a Sikh Im realizing while Sikhs have made plenty of history, they have done little to record, or share their stories.

If we dont like the story someone else tells, its up to us to tell ours.

Since this is my first post, I hope you have made it this far and look forward to what you thoughts are about this act of exclusionary inclusion.


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14 Responses to “Exclusive New Haagen-Dazs in Delhi: Sorry, No Indians Allowed”

  1. kaur says:

    exibit 3: is of aficans?, not of indians.. but all the same.. i really enjoyed this post. Thankyou for sharing!

  2. kaur says:

    exibit 3: is of aficans?, not of indians.. but all the same.. i really enjoyed this post. Thankyou for sharing!

  3. justasikh says:

    Kaur, you are correct, it's africans, but it fit the message just as well I thought… Glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. justasikh says:

    Kaur, you are correct, it's africans, but it fit the message just as well I thought… Glad you enjoyed the post.

  5. This post is brilliant. Having nothing as meaningful and critical to contribute to your analysis, I'll instead add the following quick points:

    1. Ice cream is kulfi unevolved, Haagan Dazs Reserve's Pomegrante and Chocolate Chip is kulfi perfected, and dolphin is man evolved.
    2. The relationship of ice ceram to desis seems to have become http://thelangarhall.com/general/female-ice-cream
    3. I have no idea why you aren't posting more.

  6. This post is brilliant. Having nothing as meaningful and critical to contribute to your analysis, I'll instead add the following quick points:

    1. Ice cream is kulfi unevolved, Haagan Dazs Reserve's Pomegrante and Chocolate Chip is kulfi perfected, and dolphin is man evolved.
    2. The relationship of ice ceram to desis seems to have become

    Yipes. ceram = cream and the point with the link was supposed to have read as:

    "2. The relationship of ice cream to desis seems to have become rather antagonistic recently. "

  7. Yipes. ceram = cream and the point with the link was supposed to have read as:

    "2. The relationship of ice cream to desis seems to have become rather antagonistic recently. "

  8. samah says:

    loved the post :)

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  10. vitzi vids says:

    @admin
    thankyou for writing such a wonderful post i become a fan of yours and saving it as a bookamark please keep on writing like this
    regards
    vitzi vids

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