The Last Puran Poli: The Kobra Secret You Didn’t Know About


The Last Puran Poli: The Kobra Secret You Didn’t Know About

Illustration: Sushant Ahire


s a kid in Pune, my uncle once asked an auto driver if he’ll take us from Pune Station to Koregaon Park. The autowallah agreed. My uncle offered to pay five rupees for the ride. The autowallah dismissively said, “Paanch rupaye mein kaun leke jaayega? (Who will ferry you for five bucks?)” My uncle calmly said, “Maage basa, me neto (You sit at the back, I’ll take you).” As a Kokanastha Brahmin (Kobra) kid, I thought that was normal. The autowallah, distinctly not Kobra, who perhaps didn’t know the people of the land, looked stunned. Kobra miserliness can do that to a newbie.

Everyone blames the Marwaris for their miserly behaviour but it’s rather unfair. A Kokanastha Brahmin can beat a Maru hollow at being a miser. Distinctly fair, sharp-nosed, good-looking, grey-eyed, usually intelligent – the stereotypes you can paint them with pretty safely – when it comes to being parsimonious, the Kobras are in a league of their own. If you don’t know one in real life, you’d probably dismiss the idea as an exaggeration because culturally all the jokes are on Marwaris. I’ve heard a few Kobra kanjoosi jokes; they actually seem like an understatement. The Kobras are the only people whose jokes are kinder than their reality.