Inside One of Delhi’s World-Famous Cow Hostels


Inside One of Delhi’s World-Famous Cow Hostels

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

PM Modi is announcing the results of this year’s International Old Macdonald Assessment for the bovine population in 140 different cities on Mann ki Baat, a chat show where he talks to himself.  

Haryana has apparently lost its top spot as the world’s most liveable city for cows after a seven-year reign. It was pipped to the post by Delhi, which received an overall score of 99.1 per cent.

In his address, the Prime Minister praised the nation’s unwavering commitment to Deen Dayal Gauwas Yojana which has set up PG hostels for cows in major towns in Haryana and every neighbourhood in Delhi. The initiative proved so popular that even the Opposition is now promising to implement a 30 per cent quota for underprivileged and Other Backward Cows (OBC) in Delhi schools.

Cows from as far as Switzerland and Germany have been thronging to desi pastures, forcing the steak-loving firangs to switch to Patanjali paneer.

Our intrepid reporter approached the inmaids of one of the oldest and most prestigious hostels, Working Gaumata Chhatrawas (GOTCHA), to get a first-hand account of life behind the four walls.  (*Names of hostellers have been changed to protect their identities.)

We are at the grounds outside the hostel champitheatre, where the gau and bhains get their weekly massage. Bhuteshwari and a few of her friends have gathered to share their experiences of life in the hostels at GOTCHA. “I spend most of my evenings staring outside my window, looking at my lower-caste sisters shitting without a care in the world and swaying their tails with gai abandon,” Bhuteshwari* says.

Shifting uncomfortably in her khakhi shorts, Slutty-Savitri* hisses from a corner: “You know why they made us wear these?”

“Our Chief Rakshak, BC Bhagmat, got the idea that our naked butts were sending wrong signals to the bulls in the neighbouring hostel. Bullshit! They squeezed us and our tails into these discarded RSS shorts to curb our freedom of expression.”

“This is bloody bovine injustice!” chimes in Bhuteshwari.

The gais and bhains don’t want to reveal their names because they fear the consequences of speaking up against the administration. And then, as the evening starts to fade into darkness, they must head back in time for an 8 pm curfew.

The gais and bhains don’t want to reveal their names because they fear the consequences of speaking up against the administration.

“From 9 am to 5 pm, we are busy being milked. After that, we only have a few hours to do things such as go to the main gaibrary, visit our favourite garbage joints, or meet friends to talk about our achhe din, which by now is a distant mammary,” says Abhainstika*.

After the main gates close, there’s a roll call to ensure all the gais and bhains are in. “If you are not in by then, it’s a serious violation of rules,” says Moomita*, another inmaid. “The bulls, however, can stay out until 10 pm, and unlike us, don’t need permission to step out after the deadline. They are even spared the ignominy of squeezing themselves into RSS shorts.”

“It’s like being born a gai was the greatest sin!” moos Abhainstika.

“It wasn’t always like this,” sighs Gauteeka, the hostel’s oldest inmate. “There was a time when we were free to roam from dawn to dusk, chew cud and ruminate about world peace at roundabouts while bringing the traffic to a grinding halt. Why, we could even get men killed for daring to look at us with hungry eyes!”

“Not anymore. We are now like chattels of powerful dairy magnates who can’t keep their hands off our booty. From our poop, to pee, to our milk, they want it all. Greedy bastards!”

“We all feel udderly exploited,” says Moomita. “What makes us mad is that the bulls have no such curbs. They can come and go as they please while the authorities turn a blind eye. Once a few of them forcibly entered our hostel and were like… well, bulls in a china shop! Spotting a bull masturbating under our windows is a common occurrence.”

Why should gais and bhains be deprived of attending evening events on campus, the cows ask? Why can’t they talk on their mobile phones after 10 pm, if the bulls can? Why are gais, unlike bulls, not allowed to bring their friends into their rooms? And why can’t they visit the gaibrary until 11 pm when the bulls with no academic inclination can?

Chief Rakshak BC Bhagmat, when approached for his side of the story, was quick to lay emphasis on “respect for gais and bhains”, who represent societal “prestige and honour”. “I am only thinking like a father. If a daughter is not safe on the streets, then the father will have to keep her inside the house,” he mooed.

“It’s like being born a gai was the greatest sin!” moos Abhainstika.

The last few months have seen simmering discontent on the campus. The hostellers are far from amoosed that instead of addressing their security concerns by bringing the bulls to task, it’s they who are being subjected to constant moral policing. This has led to a growing breed of farminists who are demanding equal rights as bulls. They like to call themselves “Rani Khaasi”, and they are a far cry from their demure foremothers who were content to chew cud all day. The current breed doesn’t shy from demanding more from the GOTCHA administration.

The Khaasis have been placed under house-arrest for demanding fodder for thought, and yoga centres before their Vice-Chancellor. This has not deterred them. It has been herd that they will now add voting rights to their list of demands.

It’s five minutes past eight, and as the gais rush to make it past the gates, Bhuteshwari turns to me pensively. “It seems that the University doesn’t want us to think for ourselves. There’s no space for us to demand our rights, or express our opinion.”

“We are now being treated like women,” says Moomita, and the cows around her grow suddenly quiet.  

Gayi bhains paani mein!