A dealer and his American Bully named Babu at a temple in Subhash Nagar. Image: Parthshri Arora
Subhash Nagar is world-famous in Delhi stoner circles as the place to score maal. Reddit and Quora are filled with photos of “Subhash Nagar stash”. Subhash Nagar memes are also a thing. A lesser known fact about the neighbourhood, however, is that local dealers usually leave a monkey chained to a post outside whichever of the area's narrow lanes they may be frequenting on any given day.We recently went looking for the monkey (research!), but after asking around discovered it had been temporarily hospitalised and replaced by a Great Dane. One thing led to another, and it turns out Subhash Nagar is a proper zoo, with one family that owns two cows, two calves, a pitbull, an American Bully and a Pakistani Bully, a German Shepherd, a Rottweiler named Vilain, a labrador and two rats. There was another lab, named Shivalati, but she’s dead now.
The owner of this menagerie was introduced to us simply as “Anna”. Born in Pune in 1965, Anna was shipped off to Salem, Tamil Nadu by his father at age eight. He says he got by on 25 paisa a week while working in a towel factory. Two years into this pretty much unpaid job, he was caught using the boss’ toilet.“He fired me, but I then hit him with a stone in his face and came to Delhi,” Anna told us. When he got here, he plied a handcart for a year in Badarpur, then settled in Subhash Nagar to set up a sprawling ganja trade.
These days, he’s mostly into building his second temple (a Sai Baba bhakt, he built a smaller one in 1990), playing Candy Crush and Bubble Shoot, and hanging with his numerous pets.“Ever since I came to Delhi, no animal hurt me whenever I walked its streets. They are reham dil [kindhearted],” Anna told VICE.
The dogs, like Anna’s entire family, are vegetarian. Everyone fasts on Tuesday, and takes part in an annual Sai Sandhya. Anna’s 26-year-old son Lucky* helps out with the animals and everything else.“I love animals because they are mistreated everywhere,” Lucky told us. “Nearby Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre can’t afford to take care of all animals.”
“One time, my brother saw this dog, whose ear was being cut in nearby Woodland Park. So he slapped the guy who was cutting it and saved the dog. We spent two lakh on the dog. It was a pitbull,” he added.Anna too is, reham dil, as he lets his kids nurse local mongrels. Recently, Lucky got one home and named him “Khalifa”. “I’m a fan of Mia Khalifa. Not as a porn star, but as a goodlooking person, and how she posts on Instagram,” he said.
We asked the father and son about their earnings. “Only a businessman knows what you have. No one knows how many days and nights of work go into buying a Lamborghini,” Lucky said. (He doesn’t own one, yet.)Law enforcement isn’t a major issue. “Our relations are okay. Koi panga hogaya ho, toh gunde toh hum hai hi,” Anna declared—”at the end of the day we’re goondas.”“There should be a documentary on Papa,” Lucky said. Especially on how he’s supported his extended “family” of 150 people, and his mission to build a new temple using only donations. Some people have given doors, and someone’s donated a 1,000 bricks. Lucky continued, “It’s not important to show his face—they can use someone else. Like in Sanju. It’ll be a superhit.”*Sources used pseudonyms.Follow Parthshri Arora on Twitter.