Reverse Swing: Travails of Ordering Tomato on Zomato
Before we draw up a National Register of Citizens, we must have a National Register of Religious Affiliations. All animals, birds, insects, trees, flowers, fruits, grains, pulses must be profiled and get their religious tag. The geographic index is irrelevant. It is the religious index that matters.
Post-Independence, India went through rocky times. For a while, it was even on the rocks. But now, nearing our 72nd anniversary, what with sending a rocket to the moon and all, we are truly rocking.
Besides, some heart-warming acts by fellow citizens are setting the bar pretty high for the rest of us. Their commitment to the Hindu cause is at a level of sophistication that was never taught in school, at least in my time. At a time when it is getting increasingly difficult to be and remain a Hindu – what with 49 meddling intellectuals issuing uninvited statements against the time-honoured Hindu practice of daily lynching – it is heartening to see a large number of youngsters amplifying the limits of the religiously thinkable and doable.
Consider, for example, the dedicated and sacrificing attitude of a certain NaMo_Sarkaar (Amit Shukla), ostensibly from Jabalpur, who proudly announced on Twitter that he refused food delivered to his house via Zomato by a non-Hindu delivery boy, because it is the month of Shraavan – when every devout Hindu (is there any other kind?) wants to stay pure and anti-sceptic. Not wanting to have anything to do with a ‘not-what-I-ordered’ delivery boy, he even forfeited the amount he had paid for his order. This is exemplary. Zomato chief, Deepinder Goyal, might have come back with the insensitive and uniformed response that ‘Food does not have a religion’. But we know better. Everything has a religion. Particularly in the month of Shraavan.
It is not only the delivery boy who has a religion. His motorcycle too has a religion. So does the hot pack strapped to its pillion. The petrol that he puts in his bike tank has a devilishly religious orientation. We have to make sure whether it comes from our own Hindu oil fields in Dibrugarh or Bombay High or from some unacceptable source in the Gulf. It will not be kosher at all for a Hindu bike to be contaminated with Muslim fuel.
Then, again, the potatoes, onions, and chillies in the food that Zomato delivers, certainly have religion. As do the rice and atta and salt and spice. The stove and the gas, the cook and the cashier, the kadhai and the vaati, the lid and the ladle – all these not only have a religion, but need to be verified, certified and sanctified by one of the numerous Shankaracharyasas being authentically ‘ours’, so that we can feel wholly safe during the holy month.
To push the point further, there can be no disagreement, for example, with the latest views of a BJP leader from Barabanki, UP, Ranjit Bahadur Srivastava, who boldly proclaimed that ‘cows are Hindu’ and should, therefore, only be owned by Hindus. Muslims should be happy rearing and keeping goats. Expanding on this impeccable logic, he went on to suggest that cows are ‘our mothers’. Just like we cannot let Muslims keep ‘our’ daughters, we also cannot let them keep ‘our’ mothers. So, all cows in possession of Muslims should be subjected to a ‘ghar wapasi’ and be restored to the Hindu community. Surely, something we can all keep chanting until the cows come home. There might be a strong difference of opinion, though, on which religion to assign to bull-shit.
These are heartening signs. Seldom has one encountered such religious clarity. Before we draw up a National Register of Citizens, we must have a National Register of Religious Affiliations. All animals, birds, insects, trees, flowers, fruits, grains, pulses must be profiled and get their religious tag. The geographic index is irrelevant. It is the religious index that matters. A Hindu must be protected from forking Muslim mutter or spooning Christian curd. So too cars, buses, trains and planes must be tagged. A Hindu cannot be deceived into travelling in a Muslim train. Nor can a Muslim aspire to fly in a Hindu Pushpak Vimaan. None of it can be misconstrued as segregation – as the 49 intellectuals might do. It is just religious common sense.
This, of course, leads to the corollary need to sub-classify the category of Hindus too. They cannot all be lumped into one homogenised mass. The wheat must be separated from the chaff. It would not do at all, for example, if the Zomato delivery boy were a Hindu, but not my kind of Hindu. Different categories of Hindus must be corralled into different coloured zones and none should transgress the borders. The Blue Book from South Africa, though not Hindu, should be a ready guide for this internal apartheid. They had such a good idea. Pity the international community ganged up on them and got them to dismantle such an egalitarian regime of differences.
In the Hindutva paradise, I would wake up on my brand of Hindu bed, brush with a Hindu paste, bathe with a Hindu soap, wear Hindu garments, travel by a Hindu vehicle to a Hindu office (reading, ahem, the Hindu paper), contribute to the Hindu rate of growth, go in the evening to a Hindu film in a Hindu movie hall, before returning to my Hindu bed for the night. I shall have only certified Hindu friends, buy only Hindu consumer goods, watch only Hindus play at Wimbledon, travel only to Hindu lands and collect only Hindu stamps. I will not allow my prime minister to go around hugging non-Hindu heads of state or purchasing their weapons of mass destruction or invite them to mediate in the affairs of my Hindu state of Kashmir.
The problem begins, however, when I return home after having watched the Hindu movie and am now troubled by some real Hindu pangs of hunger. I quickly need to order food and only the services of Zomato or Swiggy or Uber-Eats are available on my smartphone. Unfortunately, the phones are not yet smart enough to micro-detail, not just my preference of food, but how and by whom it should be delivered. Technology, by now, should have enabled me to specify that my tomato delivered by Zomato should have been cultivated in Hindu fields, by Hindu hands, with Hindu water and fertilisers and eventually purchased from a Hindu retailer. Ideally, my tomato bruschetta should be accompanied by a printed leaflet assuring me on all these counts, with the percentage of dilution/deterioration due to non-Hindu contamination in the downstream production process.
However, in the absence of such crucial filters, I have to make the crucial choice between being a warrior for my religion or starving. I draw eternal inspiration from the Tulsi Ramayan:
Raghukul riti sada chali aayi,
Prawn jaye par vachan na jayi.
So I’ll just give up my prawns.