I Suffer From the Mocambo Malady and So Do You

Social Commentary

I Suffer From the Mocambo Malady and So Do You

Illustration: Akshita Monga


t was déjà vu when my social media feeds did a collective eye-roll, after a restaurant named Mocambo in Kolkata refused service to a driver because he was either “ill-dressed”, or “eating jhalmuri, walking around and grazing people” or “drunk”. Even the restaurant management couldn’t seem to decide what imaginary line this poor bastard had crossed, so they coined a new excuse – roadsider.

Roadsider. Oxford dictionary defines the word as “a person standing, walking, selling something, etc., on or by the roadside”. Now the Mocambo management didn’t mean this literally, but it was a metaphor for people who acquaint themselves with the grime of the streets, far more than you and I do inside our air-conditioned offices and houses. It’s a big enough umbrella to cover our maids, drivers, istriwallas, chaiwallas, rickshaw-wallas, and so on, without delving into their individual professions, incomes, education, or how close or far from the road they actually live. Roadsiders. An all-encompassing, rather indicting verdict of roughly 55 per cent of our population.