Post 82, Abdullahpur Basti, Ludhiana

6:15 p.m.: I greet Birjinder who sits at the counter to the entrance of the flour mill. He asks me how I have been. I tell his I’ve been slightly unwell.

“Oh no- you should have said. We’d have admitted you in the hospital with my aunt. We could have got a discount for an additional patient,” Birjinder says before bursting into laughter.

Reeling from Birjinder’s morbid sense of humour, I walk into the mill, where Om Prakash and Kalki Prasad operate the grinding machine. Om Prakash and Kalki Prasad are also discussing the results of the UP legislative assembly elections. their conversation went along the following lines.

Om Prakash: The BJP won UP because of Modi. He destroyed his opponents completely.

Kalki Prasad: Yes, with Modi at the helm, they did not have a chance.

Om Prakash: Well, you see, he is after all from the Ahir community [reference to the cowherd caste]. He knows a thing or two about wielding lathis (batons).

Kalki Prasad (vehemently): Arre, no way. Modi is not Ahir. He is Teli [reference to the oil-presser caste]. It has nothing to do with caste. Modi is simply brilliant.