What Happens in Haryana’s Trump Village

Politics

What Happens in Haryana’s Trump Village

Illustration: Akshita Monga / Arré

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head of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first big meet-and-greet with the leader of the Free World came the news that a small Harayanvi village has been named after the Great Grabber of Pussies.

When the irony of renaming a Muslim-majority village after Donald Trump got too much to bear, I had no choice but to board the bus. I also wanted to know, what the blighted residents of Marora think of having been put under the grace of a man who frequently projects sexy feelings toward his daughter and lies for a living?

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On entering the newly named Trump Village, I am greeted by a lovely portrait of the man and his blond quiff grinning down benevolently from a billboard. The message reflects its new thrilling reality: “Welcome to Trump Sulabh Village”, it proclaims proudly. That Trump is involved in not just the stamping out of terrorism, drone strikes, and billion-dollar deals, but also with rural India’s peeing and pooping problems comes as a revelation to me. Sulabh, the people famous for charging Delhi Metro travellers ₹1 for a pee, or as KRK would call them “one-rupee peepals,” is now taking this admirable cause to the next level by building toilets in the Trump Village and offering a pee for free.

Besides the glorious free-pee dole, Trump Village is like most villages in India – primarily made of kuccha houses with the odd pucca house, a welcoming free-flowing stench from open sewers, and a severe struggle for civic amenities and employment opportunities. In this shiny village of the future that hopes for gleaming towers and golden insignia, the villagers have been reduced to daily-wage-construction workers owning to the infertility of the land. The irony of Trump being a real-estate magnate dawns gently upon me when I see the kuccha houses undergoing renovation, with women carrying bricks on their head in the flaming heat, a poster of the smiling Trump benignly shadowing their movements. Why is he smiling like he knows something we don’t?

The answer presents itself when I go up to the first house and see two goats going doggy style, the billy goat forcing himself upon the nanny, who clearly wants to stop. I offered Trump’s creepy, grinning poster a sad smirk. This truly was his village.

In other houses, women are very hopeful, anticipating that the rechristening will bring in civic amenities and electricity.

Among the villagers, it would appear that the name change has some well-schooled takers. Mohammed Qasim, sitting in a house without a fan, is very pleased about the new developments. “The name change will lead to development in our village.” His mother, who’s sitting beside him, doesn’t know who Trump is, but Qasim makes up for it by adding passionately that he would vote for Trump over Modi, if Trump stood for elections in India.

In other houses, women are very hopeful, anticipating that the rechristening will bring in civic amenities and electricity. “They will help clean the sewers and provide us with toilets. We have many troubles, including lack of land, unrepaired streets, and poor access to clean water,” say Umbatti and her friends, while adding that they don’t know who Trump is.

Trump Village

On entering the newly named Trump Village, I am greeted by a lovely portrait of the man and his blond quiff grinning down benevolently from a billboard.

Parthshri Arora / Arré

This lack of knowledge about the benefactor of their village does not deter Sulabh International founder and chief, Bindeshwar Pathak, from holding up a letter sent to him by the village panchayat in the middle of his inaugural speech, claiming that they voted to change the name. As I watch the elderly panchayat members sitting behind Pathak, smoking the biggest hookah I’d ever seen, I’m willing to bet my dear friend Sid Mallya’s British accent that the idea of naming their village after the world’s foremost Islamophobe did not come from the residents of Marora.

As the day winds down, the mood in the village turns celebratory. The goat sex gets rowdy, the children run around fighting each other while trying to break the flower garlands adorning the posters, and it feels like Trump’s billion-dollar cheque is just around the corner.

Everyone’s having a great day.

Trump Village

In this shiny village of the future that hopes for gleaming towers and golden insignia, the villagers have been reduced to daily-wage-construction workers owning to the infertility of the land.

Parthshri Arora / Arré

After we finish attending this miserable stunt for publicity by Sulabh, my brethren and I walk towards the exit, looking for a place to dump the box which once contained the samosa we were fed for covering this all-important renaming ceremony, but there’s no bin in sight. I look around frantically, with a helpless expression reminiscent of the producer of an Arjun Kapoor film asking everyone for help, but they all tell me to throw it wherever I want. There’s not a single dustbin in the village.

With the image in my mind of the hundred plastic spoons, plates, boxes, and bags brought in to celebrate Swachh Bharat lying littered and “Yeh Jo Desh Hai Mera” from Swades in my heart, I shove the box into my bag and walk away, wondering if the champions of #NotFreePee and admirers of Donald Trump would figure that dustbins are fairly important for cleanliness. But then I realised the point of this important charade. Cleanliness, just like vikas before it, is mostly a state of mind.

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