On Privacy and Surveillance-02

This post is suffixed with a number which means an earlier post on this subject exists. Click this link to get there. The earlier post is one of many aspects of my experiences with “Khabarigiri”, that is, surveillance or snooping. This post is one more such snooping incidents that show different behaviours and motivations.

The earlier post was on snooping by specific people mandated with specific tasks of “dirt gathering” by “get-togethering”, “partying”, “trekking”, and even “taking lift on a car.” I have a story to tell on snooping by “taking lift on a car” but that’s for series 03. Here I have something to say about snooping by “calculating” and by “breaking in.”

There was a time when I worked in Calcutta and, as is usual with me, I was befriended by a guy who worked as a driver. I was befriended because I had an open pocket. My salaries came into one pocket and escaped by the other five. Sensing these excesses, I abruptly stopped: drinking, smoking, spending, for a few months. My screeching brake was a bane to all the parasitic “friends” I tend to accumulate in life and the hardest hit was this driver. He tried several ways to “break my fast”, and in one conversations, he predicted how much money I may have saved by my “abstentions”. I was astounded. His figures were correct, plus/minus a thousand.

The truth that someone is calculating “about” me was apparent then. But I never internalised it by attitudinal corrections. Any other person will cast away these toxic people at first evidence. But me; I continued living with snakes.

Similar incident happened when I started working in Bombay at the turn of this century. A business minded colleague kept pestering me to know how much money I’m earning. After several failed attempts to solicit an answer, he finally said – at least tell me how much tax you pay? I told him. He felt silent, lowered his head, and then raised his head and figured my salary. His guess was near, plus/minus a few thousand.

This incident was concurrent with a time when, due to some “good performances”, middle management gave me some “increment.” This created lots of ire and fire among the incompetents. Those were the days when the company sent salary slips in envelopes. (Salary was directly credited to bank)

Since the time I got the “increment” and thereafter, for a couple of months, I always found my “salary slip envelope” tampered. I never complained, but the “operation” started on me spread internally within the department and everyone began fearing that their own “salary slip envelope” was tampered with too. The situation was solved when salary slips started getting emailed and hard copy discarded.

By mid 2017, I was closing my account with the company. The company had a “co-operative society” where one could invest money for compound interests. On final closure date, when I went to collect my cheque, upon seeing me, there was an eerie silence in the room. Staff made furtive glances, particularly, the counter-girl. My assessment on this event could be speculative, but my experiences with the company made me sense and gauge that “management” may have called to know my “invested money.”

By mentioning these behaviours I stress that surveillance on a person is closure to “Home” than “High-Tech.” It is more “people” than “apps.” It is more your relative, neighbours and even one’s own family member. This mention of “family member” might be surprising. But it’s not. I have a family member who, unknown to me, divulged all the family details to an office colleague, who happens to be a “prime-informer” of the company. So, you have to check what your husband, wife and children may be divulging to others. And what other husbands, wives and children (and colleagues and neighbours) are trying to dig out of you.

Your every information will be used against you.