I am half Gujarati. A Patel, actually. Well, my mother is a Patel. So, I am technically a half-Patel. (Or does that make me a full Patel from my mother’s side?) Either way, I am a Patedar. A land owner. So, naturally, I want OBC status. In fact, I demand it. See, don’t ask me uncomfortable questions, like why should the richest Gujju community seek reservation, okay!
My mother asked me to reach out to Hardik Patel, the new poster boy of the agitation, so I Whatsapped him on the group chat, PATEL RAP.
“Hardikbhai, you don’t really have any clout in Mumbai. I can galavanise all the Patels in the city to support your movement. Su bolech?” I messaged.
The 22-year-old was dismissive — “I don’t need help. I have all Patels worldwide, in my (emoticon of a fist).
Anyway, what can you do extra for me, huh Rahulbhai….can you top the half million Patels I managed to round up in Ahmedabad? If you can get me even 100 Patels from South Mumbai, and gather them together in Azad Maidan, I will take the Khel Ratna away from Sania Mirza and bestow it upon you.”
The challenge was on.
I began my search. I met Patel after Patel from the saree shops of Bhuleshwar to the diamond merchants of Opera House. But no one seemed interested. I stormed the Dalal Street Stock Exchange, expecting support — Jignesh Patel, a harried stock broker, told me, “Arre, bhai, who cares about OBC status, I’m more concerned about the status of Reliance shares, Sensex down hai. Right now I wish my surname was Rajan or Jaitley. Also, I am supposed to be a Patedar, a land owner. But I barely have a one BHK in Lokhandwala.”
I then approached the affluent Patels of SoBo.
Shri Kaukuben Motilal Patel, convenor, Napean Sea Road Patel Association, told me, “Boss, I have my own OBC issues. The association wants to launch an agitation to rename Napean Sea Road as ‘Outer Breach Candy’.
I then decided to set my sights on the NRI market, all the Patels from Jackson Heights and Queens, New York, who had once resided in South Bombay.
“You kidding, dude”, said Sunny Patteson (originally Sundar Patel) and owner of the chain, Patel Motels. “I have enough problems surviving here in the US. Can you imagine if Donald Trump becomes Prezzie!!! He’ll tear down my hotels and construct high rises!”
I was exhausted trying to find even one Mumbai Gujarati Patel who would support me.
So I figured a change of plan — what if I went after some Parsi Patels? Maybe they would be interested.
I approached Mr Pestonjee Patel, head of the Parsi Punchayat.
“Sir, do you think anyone from any of your colonies, either Khareghat or Dadar Parsi Colony would join my agitation?”
“Dikra, you are barking up the wrong tree. Each colony is fighting for its own OBC status — ‘Our Baug Cleanest’.”
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org