From Diane’s Blog:
Today there is a security guard downstairs at Tower #3. Protecting Tower #3, I guess. I don’t remember him being there when I was there last time so I’m very leery of MR. Security Guard. But he is harmless and just wears his badge for show and directs me to an open elevator. I’m starting to get a bit paranoid and I’m not even up on the 6th floor yet.
Paranoia is for a good reason, I suppose. A healthy quality if you’re alone and decided the plan of action is to do a Sit In. A ’sit in’ is basically just sitting down somewhere (General Consulate’s office, for example) and not getting up until you’re thrown out or until you run out of material on your issue. My issue is Bhopal and that lowlife, Union Carbide.
So I sit on the floor underneath that lovely brassy General Consulate sign again and make myself comfortable. My poster board sign announcing the sit in and Day 11 of the hunger fast is up against the wall, Ive got 40 copies of a Bhopal fact sheet at my fingertips, and my lap top computer on my lap , but alas! fat lot that will do me. No free internet. Lots of folks wandering in; coming and going and I realize real fast that I don’t have enough sheets and here I am, sitting on the fast track to the Consule’s office. Must be lots of folks visiting him. I’m wondering how fast the news that I’m sitting outside his door will trickle in. That’s why I place my cell phone within easy reach: in case that security guard hauls up to the sixth floor and hauls me off.
I’ve brought a bottle of fresh water with me, but not much that’s gonna do me. All the bathroom doors are locked. ONLY EMPLOYEES. I can see I won’t be drinking much water. An Indian gentleman comes by twice. He smiles broadly. Very friendly fella. He goes to the door of the consulate’s reception room but turns and looks at me again. Then he reads the sign I have propped up. He looks at me again and asks if I’m from India. No. I’m from Texas. Land of the big long horned cows. Then he smiles again and says his hometown is Bhopal. He thinks I look like I’m from India. Well, thank you very much. That’s quite a compliment. But nope, I’m from Texas.
Actually there was not a single person that was unfriendly or hostile. Not one that did not take my flier. Many said it was a shame . A shame. And they went away shaking their heads. Finally a tall gray haired man comes out of the Reception Room. No no, he says. You mustn’t do this. No no! He flutters his hand like I’m to get up and GO!. No no, he says. This is not possible. I kinda shrug, Oh, well, bring on the handcuffs.
Two seconds later the gray haired gentleman leaves and returns with a very nicely dressed man. VERY NICE. Black suit, tie, white shirt i can barely see. Black shiny shoes. This man is OBVIOUSLY very important. The gray haired man throws his hand out towards me as if to say, “SEE, look at her!” The nice suited man says just like the first, Oh no, you can’t stay here and I said, Yes i Know but I’m staying here so he says, Well, come in then. Come in.
I’m thinking: Really?? I can do the sit in INSIDE? Inside the RECEPTION ROOM. Really? Well, this was looking good! So I take all my posters and fliers and my non-functioning computer and drag it into the RECEPTION ROOM where the nicely suited man sits me down at a pink and tan couch. The nicely suited man seems very sad. Yes, what is it? he says. What is it you want?
I give him the fliers and start talking about Bhopal and he says they at the consul general’s office have always, have always, he emphasized, supported the cause. They had spoke with Bhopal activists several times in the last three years and I say yes, I was here yesterday.
Well, what are the demands? he says and I say, Ashish, the Indian student, brought them by yesterday evening. Then I proceed to tell him that there is an international hungerstrike going on and he wanted to know what international meant and I said many countries around the world have joined the hungerfast. I said I had joined the hunger fast. He says, Are you an Indian? Or an American citizen. I said I’m four generations of fishermen from Texas. He says, An American citizen? Not from India?
Now this is getting peculiar. There seems to be a suspicion that I’m from India.
No, thank you I say. I’m Native American. Beeen here a mightly long time.
Then he says again that I must not sit out there under that sign. Not respectful. Oh, it is so sad. And I say i am so sorry but I am going to sit out there. And he say, Oh you cannot and I say, Well, bring up the cops. Bring in the handcuffs. Haul me off. I don’t mind going to jail.
He smiles. Oh, we don’t do handcuffs he says. Just move a little. Take it down the hall a little. By the elevator door.
Okay, I say. I could move a bit.
So we shake hands and he smiles– very different from the first time he smiled. Almost conspiratorial. You know, he says, we support the cause. We have ALWAYS supported the cause.
Would I write my name down? he asks and I say, Sure, will you write your name down?
His name was MR.Pillai. The acting consulate general when the real consulate general is out.