• How the Cows of Kamla Nagar in Delhi Ruined Modi’s Demonetisation Plans

    Souradeep Roy

    November 9, 2017

                                                                                                                                                                        Image Courtesy: First Post

    The cows of Kamla Nagar don’t give a damn. They just don’t. They understood individualism even before Marx wrote Capital. And, as you can already guess, they don’t really care for The Communist Manifesto either. In fact, they came to Chhatra Marg even before the road was called by that name. They conquered; and they have stayed ever since. As a matter of fact, they probably came even before capitalism came to Europe. They are the predecessors to the monuments of capital in Kamla Nagar: MacD (that’s what folks here call McDonalds), that lone Reebok showroom, and even that damned Spark mall which just sprung up out of nowhere one day.

    Let me give you a few details to elaborate my hypothesis. Folks at Kamla Nagar love chhole bhature. If you held a vote for the national dish of India, chhole bhature would win by zero margin, because there would be no other nomination. So imagine old uncles in their half-pants, their lovely hairy legs, and some aunties wearing salwars, with a cap perched on their heads, joyously eating chhole bhature after their daily morning walk. This is exactly when Kamla Nagar Cow No. 1 (henceforth KNC1) will decide to take a look at the dustbin. Quite unlike the sluggish police investigations on complaints of lost mobiles in the Maurice Nagar police thana, KNC1 decides to look at the dustbin with a vengeance. Its large, flowing, nose travels to every nook and corner of the dustbin. It’s huge, square teeth picks up plastic bags which smell of food, inspecting it with attention worthy of a vital piece of evidence. Most importantly, it ruins the only chance that joyous uncles and aunties have for a conversation with others’ husbands and wives. They scamper from one place to another with their plates of half-eaten-quarter-eaten chhole bhatures, but their real pain is the lost opportunity for romance.

    KNC1 is so fiercely individualistic that as soon as it finds its choice of food, it takes its head out of the dustbin, shows its huge thick teeth to the everyone around, and then looks up to offer a prayer in praise of the sun, all while chewing the food. It seems like some customs of the night-long besura singing, also called jagratas, has brushed off on these cows. (This is only a speculative hypothesis; if any sociologists from D School—folks here call the Delhi School of Economics D School—can corroborate this, I’ll be very happy to talk to them; no thanks, I’ll not have any weed).

    But cows between the range of KNC1 to KNCinfinity do not stop here. They do not give a damn for jagrata families even though they painfully saved money for a gaushala. In fact, let me tell you the truth instead of wasting your time like this: they did not give a damn about Narendra Modi either. When their loving human saviour came to reach out to them, they shat on his face. “We, subaltern cows, don’t need a human vanguard,” was their unanimous position to not just jagrata families, but to the supreme god of every jagrata household—Narendra Modi. (To be very honest, it’s actually Amit Shah, but I’ll say Narendra Modi because… well… Ishrat Jehan?) When schemes after schemes, and tax-payers money, and jawans at Siachen, were all directed for the benefit of cows, the range of cows between KNC1 to KNCinfinity did not particularly revolt; In fact, they just did not, as is their nature, give a Single. Damn.

    Let me give you a few details to further elaborate my hypothesis. When Modi announced demonetisation, I was in my room. I presumed that there would be a stampede-like situation near the ATMs at McD. So I waited till 10 p.m. because that is usually when the PGs pretending to be hostels close their doors to their residents. Then, I walked to a Syndicate Bank ATM—a shady ATM no one visits—and jauntily withdrew some money that would last me a few days. How long could this mayhem last anyway?

    The PGs opened next morning, and, in the days that followed, I was shocked to find that the stampede-like situations did not exist just near the MacD ATMs (where stupid undergraduate male students take ages to grow wiser and older, as the years pass by looking at other women waiting in queues) but everywhere. There were queues outside banks that I thought had been looted during the 1857 mutiny—Banks with names like Corporation Bank and Karur Vysya Bank!  But the cows—let’s not forget our protagonist, dear readers—the cows looked at everything around them with the same indifference that they had pre-demonetisation. A policy that affected Indians so much that historians were willing to trace contemporary Indian history from this point, had only one reaction from the cows at Kamla Nagar: indifference.

    So let me return to the Syndicate Bank. I mean, literally, not narratologically. So there I was, waiting in front of the bank, and standing with me were a sizable share of our good, old Kamla Nagar aunties and uncles, who—previously in my article, and in real life—met only at chhole bhature stands in the mornings. Somehow, all notions of romance had left us, and uncles and aunties were busy discussing policies related to the nation. Of course, every now and then this discussion would be interrupted by yet another aunty calling her husband on nearing the ATM. Said husband would reach the ATM in three minutes twenty seconds and hand over three more ATM cards to her. There were protests every time it happened, but the aunties were quick. They’d be inside the ATM before anyone could stop them. Incidentally, this was also how prospective transgressive extra-marital affairs were ruined in Kamla Nagar – a fact that most television panels missed when they covered demonetisation.

    Just as were are unravelling, demystifying, defamiliarising demonetisation, in comes  KNC give-it-any-number-you-want-they-look-the-same (henceforth KNC, symbolic of all cows numbered between KNC1 to KNCinfinity). So far my attitude towards them has been the same attitude that they’ve had for others – indifference. But not this time. This time, I screamed at them, “Do you know all of this is for you? Do you know how much we are suffering so that you have a good time, so that I can’t eat you? But you don’t care, do you? All you want is—” only to be interrupted mid-rant by yet another KNC, so it could tell us what it wants, what it has always wanted: that piece of vegetable refuse tucked away in the corner. But this time it had one obstacle: unflinching men and women, standing in queues outside ATMs, ready to bear any pain for the glory of this nation. But KNC wasn’t used to losing, least of all for national glory. So our incorrigible KNC lowered its head, displayed its horns, and sauntered towards its goal with complete indifference.

    (End of scene. Fade out with screams of uncles and aunties.)

    Also read "Kamla Nagar (or Notes Towards Writing a Campus Novel)" by the author here.

    Souradeep Roy is part of the editorial collective of Indian Writers' Forum.

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