Discover the Delhi Monopoly

November 10, 2008

The other day a friend came over to play Monopoly and eat punjabi take away.

Of course, he gave me a thrashing at the game and I went bankrupt trying to pay a £1500 rent on Park Lane. The rat had managed to build hotels on the whole green and blue line while I was stuck with my mingy railway stations. I was a slumlord, he was Donald Trump. Pathetic.

Since I was losing and trying to spend as much time as possible in jail, from where I still collected rents, I started to think about the similarities with India. In India as well, businesses are being conducted from behind bars. Even elections are fought, and won, from jail.

A frenzy of construction has got India in its grip with hotels and malls coming out like weed on every roadside.

So what would an Indian Monopoly look like?

Here is my take on it:

Mayfair and Park Lane would be Aurangzeb and Prithviraj Roads. Old Kent and Whitechapel Roads would be Chandni Chowk and Paharganj. Somewhere in the middle, the Strand would be Lajpat Nagar, and Oxford Street would be Khan Market.

There would be, however, a few differences. Along with the price of building a house or a hotel, there would be the bribe you have to pay the sarkari karmcari (government officer) in charge of the area. You’d put it in the center of the board and pocket it when you land on “Free Parking”- only, “Free Parking” would be “Government Job”.

“Electricity” and “Water Works” would no longer be lousy assets: instead of getting ten times the dice in rent, you’d get a hundred times. And nobody would complain because wake up and smell the coffee this is India: no money, no water.

No crossword prize in “Chance”, but you might win the races or the matka (the illegal Indian lottery) once in a while. There would be no “Pay school fees: £150” but “Your child got kidnapped, pay ransom: 10 lakhs”.

What fun.