27 September, 2020

Reminding, A Rough Art

One would never wish 2002 to have an encore, but to discount that possibility would mean being lulled into complacency.

Illustration by Sorit
Reminding, A Rough Art

Put your finger on a colony in an Indian city where builders do not sell houses to Muslims for fear of scaring away Hindu buyers and where kirana shops do not sell eggs during Navratras. Chances are you will invariably select a city in Gujarat on which to pin this flag of ill-fame. I do not, however, have to go that far. Ten years ago, when identifying a house that could become my “permanent address”, I settled on this colony on the edge of the Indian capital, kissing the road that is a porous border between Uttar Pradesh and the capital. The builders were willing to accept almost the entire value of the property in “white”, bringing down the “cash-down” component of the price. The brokers discreetly ferreted out our religious and caste identities. But only after the deal was clinched was the scribe in me able to get the story: builders did not sell the first houses in their properties to Muslims because there would be no takers then for other units. This has not changed in a decade, and even now, only...



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