in a blue moon an election year, Facebook will throw up a gem that isn’t a photoshopped baby with Rahul Gandhi’s head, or Arnab’s rants mixed with dope beats. I’m talking Humans of Delhi– hilarious, pottymouthed, Jonathan Swift-esque commentary on everything uniquely Delhi. True to their hactivist creds, they don’t reveal their identitiy/ies, don’t hold back the punches, tell the truth a lot, and nail the nuances perfectly. It also helps that they parody the shizzle out of Humans of New York. This gets them a lot of love and a lot of gaalis, par in laundon/ laundiyon ko koi farak nahin padta yaar.
So I was thrilled when they agreed to an interview. Deviyon aur sajjanon, apni suraksha peti baandh lein, because it’s going to be a Ride.
They’ve called Humans of New York, variously, a social experiment, street philosophy and art. What should they call Humans of Delhi?
A social experiment, street philosophy, and art.
Your work pokes fun at Delhi and the immense stupidity, parochialism, insularity and plain meanness of its many residents. Is there a good, kind side to the city you’ve deliberately left un-explored? If yes, why?
Saali tu parochialism, insularity tera khandan parochialism, insularity #@$%^&!**!!!
What’s your favourite post? Are there any comedic geniuses you draw inspiration from?
The Al Pacino one. We draw inspiration from Abdul Ali Galouti Kebab sahib for his insights on how we can make fun of Muslims. Also Sir Afred Raphael who recently won a Nobel for his contribution to world comedy. We also really like the work of Swami Kumbal Odliyo for he told us that trying to pick up women using humour is a complete waste.
Some of the comments on your posts are insane. It’s almost as if people have no stomach for irony, sarcasm, innuendo, or even the truth. What are your favourite comments?
“u need a mind in your skul 1st of all girl..then police reforms….. u hit that poor man is nothing & that poice man if pronounce ur cars name wrongly thats a issue for u…..”
“Wannabes LIKE these are the reason congress still exists in india”
Your work is subversive and borderline dangerous, considering how handcuff-happy our Internet Police is. Does that bother you? Has a threat gotten real yet?
Nothing bothers us. We have a Rs 30,00,000 server that scrambles our IPs over 38 countries and goes through some of the most complex data encryption and firewalls. Threats are a part of our everyday lives. We have to constantly avoid paan being spat out by the driver ahead of us, be careful about which ‘machine ka thanda paani’ wala to trust and sometimes we have to drink tea with too much sugar in it and that can be a serious health issue. But nevertheless we’ve applied for Zed security and hopefully with the change of the government everything will come through.
What’s the weirdest conversation you’ve heard on the Metro?
Between a drunk shop keeper and his assistant: “Abey tu tension mat liya kar bhen#@$ ab tu isko dekh (pointing to a person of African ethnicity), iss kaale bhai ko dekh – ye kitna kala hai – isko jindagi mein kitni pareshani hogi – par ye apna kala dil kabhi nahi haarta. ”
What’s Delhi’s biggest problem and finest asset?
Biggest problem would be the number game. You know the people and the categories they’re divided in to and how money transfers from one to the other. Like there are about 82% Hindus and of that 48% are middle class, well-educated ones. From this there are about 34% that are minority sympathizers. Now the politicians and their kin make up for about 20% of Delhi’s population and the religion/class factor within this community fluctuates like the electricity during a thunderstorm but they usually favour the Christian-Sikhs who have turbans and South Indian accents. They get about 55% of the usual government funding and sanctions. So because of this we have places like Khan Market, Hauz Khas Village, Star Mall, Sahara Mall:
Where tall social hurdles like the nationwide projects, prison-industry complex/ broken glass wall better keep your alarm set/ Streets too loud to ever hear freedom sing/ Say evacuate your sleep, it’s dangerous to dream/ but you chain cats get they CHA-POW, who dead now/Killing fields need blood to graze the cash cow/ It’s a number game, but shit don’t add up somehow/Like I got, sixteen to thirty-two bars to rock it/ but only 15% of profits, ever see my pockets like sixty-nine billion in the last twenty years spent on national defense/ but folks still live in fear like nearly half of Delhi’s largest malls is one-quarter Robert Vadra followers/ Sixteen ounces to a pound, twenty more to a ki/ A five minute sentence hearing and you no longer free/ 40% of Delhites own a cell phone so they can hear, everything that you say when you ain’t home. I guess, Michael Jackson was right, “You Are Not Alone”./
Jai maa Kaali.
Biggest asset would be the Metro.
What do you hope for Delhi, and for India after the heat and noise of the elections has subsided?
We think that Delhi will go back its previous hobby – doing dharnas all night! Ain’t no dharna like a New Delhi dharna! Ann-shann alllll night long! The dharna ain’t over till the water cannon’s out! Mantri pulis bula dega mantri pulis bula dega mantri pulis bula dega…we do dharna all night!
I love how you get women and their little tics bang on. Is there anything you’d like to say to the women of Delhi?
“Once you’ve understood real power, you learn to respect it, and the one who wields real power doesn’t punish; you play along.”- Delhi Police Sub Inspector. (Translation from Haryanvi: “Bhai aajkal in chorriyan ke haathan mein brahmastra hai!“)
What do you hope for the HOD Facebook Page? I’m hoping it becomes a comic book that Delhi Metro distributes for free at its stations, and that it scares the eff out of first time visitors! *evil grin!*
We’ve hired some of those compact diary-carrying, black suit-wearing chain smokers from Gurgaon who change companies faster than I change my chaddis – to guide us, and a bhagoda CEO – woh wala jo nayi nayi India mein aayi hui MNC ka lootera hai – “We’ll capture the Indian market in a week, Sensei!” *CLAPS!* They’ve planned a multi-model multi-farious plan for us which involves us seeking external seed funding and investing in multiple business verticals with the same DNA , and use that identity to market the idea not the product, and seek a Unified Look At Things.
That was fun, no? Here are my favourite posts from their Facebook page.
“Baiyya thoda shakkarkandi ke saath star wala fruit bhi daal dena…”
“Kamrak madam, Kamrak!”
“So, how did you two meet each other?”
“He lives in the farmhouse next to us.”
“She used frequent the same pub I used to.”
“One day we both got drunk, and separately, ran over the same pedestrian.”
“Our dads got together for paperwork, and said, “Yaar, inke toh Chattees ke Chhattees gun milte hain!””
“When were you most afraid?”
“You know I was like coming from this party. And we were like just a teeny weeny drunk. And Sid was busy rolling when we found this rickshaw dude on the middle of the road.”
“Then what, we hit this bugger and this ghati policedude came. with their big tummies. they couldn’t even pronounce the name of the car properly. They kept saying MADAMM AAPKI ODDI NE GAREEB KO TAKKAR MAR DI MADAMM. and we were like BAIYYA WO ROAD KE BEECH MEIN THAA NAA. Thank god Sid’s father knew some people so we were rescued.”
“What did you learn from this?”
“That we need to make our police better dude. I will vote for change.”
“Who are you going to vote for?”
“The Aam Janta Party, obviously.”
“Are you here for gay pride?”
“Yes we are. We feel it is important to show support for the disenfranchised and marginalized. Also, mast mast bandiyaan hoti hain, hug-wug kar lo toh kuch kehti bhi nahin.”
“How long have you two been together?”
“Together? BC TU HOGA HOMO! TERA BOYFRIEND HOMO! TERE DONO BAAP HOMO!”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m at this gig on the terrace of this tenement overlooking the slums. You have to bring a samosa to enter, and you get to fly kites all afternoon AND there is a henna tattoo artist showcasing his work with living canvasses.
Right now Hind Sagar Brass Band and Dhol are playing back to back Govinda numbers until the headliners Shahpur Jah and the Raaga Muffinz come on to play.”
“What do you like best about Hauz Khas Village then?”
“If you have to give advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
“From time to time, for brief periods in your life, try to achieve the unachievable.”
“What unachievable feat are you trying to accomplish?”
“Booking a ticket on IRCTC.”
“I hate it when North Indians mispronounce my name. I mean, how hard is it to say Vilhoutuonuo Khianmungan!”
“How do they mispronounce it?”
“Woo hoo! Tank Road, Delhi’s biggest jeans market! What do you do bhaisaab?”
“I sell these and i write slogans for Tshirts”
“So, what gives you ideas for slogans?”
“Yes, anything in English works. Last year’s bestseller was DESERT STORM 42 ROCKSTYLE CALIFORNIA”
“You’re working on one?”
“Can I hear it?”
“SILENCE ON YOUR PUSSIES MOTORGARAGE SUPERNOVA 25”
“If you have to give advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
“Ye pyaar vyaar ka chakkar chodo. Arranged Marriage is the best.
Wahi same aadmi jo sleeper class mein apni beti ko dekhne waale kisi bhi jawan ladke ko khoon pee jaane waali nazar se dekhta hai,
Wahi aadmi jo uske kisi bhi friend ke ghar aane par, newspaper neeche kar kar ke, wo chinese waali golden dabbe mein milne waale glasses neeche kar kar ke, DNA ka structure bhi pooch leta hai.
Wahi aadmi sirf MNC mein job-pay package-caste poochkar, naach naach kar, daaru peekar, pink pagdi pehan kar na sirf apni beti dega, saath mein T.V, Sofa Set, A.C, Car, Jewellery, F.D. Sab kuch dega.
Fir har holi, diwali, dussehra par maal alag se dega. Poori zindagi tumko aap kar ke bulayega. Wahi aadmi. Aisi deal kaun chodta hai? Kaun?”
“So you’re from?”
“How has it been in Delhi so far?”
“Okay, okay. I am just tired of people calling Odisha’s laguage as Odissi, I mean that’s the dance, Odiya is the language.”
“Hmmm, which part of West Bengal is Odisha in?”
“Have you heard the urban legend of Delhi?”
“Its about the greatest playboy there ever was…”
“Ooooh..what was his name?”
“So you’re on Whatsapp auntyji?”
“Why is that shocking news? Tum bacchelog kya samajhte ho, ham puraani generation ke log Vanmanush hain?”
“Nahi nahi, but its not usual”
“Meri kaamwali Whatsaap par hai – USERNAME: SHEELA KAAMWALI, STATUS: WORK IS WORSHIP”
“If you had to give advice to a large group of people what would it be?”
“Meri friend hai, Sonal. Uske na touch waale phone ki battery ek ghante mein hi khatm ho jaati thee.
To maine ussey bola, Behen tu na bas phone ki na brightness kam kar le phone na lamba chalega.
“You like Keventers?”
“Yup, going there is so much more fun now.”
“Keventer uncle ka itna business hota hai ke uncleji just gives you whatever flavor he gets his hands on.
So just to try it out, last Sunday I asked him for two ballistic missiles.
He went TWO BALLISTIC, LO JI, 100 RUPEES THANK YOU and started cleaning his desk.”
And that’s a wrap! Hope you had a blast!
Image credits: The interview images of people in Delhi are by Manou, who documents street style at wearabout.wordpress.com. The images in ‘my favourite HOD bits’ belong to Humans of Delhi.