Inside the walls.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
One morning The Delhi Walla knocked at the door of Mr Rajkumar. His one-room house is next to Aditya Garden City, a seven-floor residential high-rise in Sahibabad, a suburb in Ghaziabad, a city just across the municipal borders of Delhi.
Mr Rajkumar, 30, works as a peon in the office of a builder. His monthly salary is Rs 4,000. His wife, Poonam, works as a maid in the households of Garden City. She makes about Rs 2,000 each month. She is presently away at work. Rajkumar has three children: Vineet, Suneet and Radha. The oldest is five. They don’t go to school.
The walls of Mr Rajkumar’s house are made of wooden planks and cardboard sheets, which are attached to the ceiling by wooden rods. Some of the sheets are printed, hinting at their origins:
Electric Water Heater
Mr Rajkumar built the house himself two years ago when he moved to Delhi from his village near Hardoi town in Uttar Pradesh. “We completed the construction in two days,” he says. The roof is made of plastic sacks. The floor is smoothened with cow dung paste. The room has one bed. Kitchen utensils are kept below it in a plastic container. There is a colour television, a small mirror, a cooking range, a small gas cylinder and a portrait of Lord Shiva. The TV is on a steel trunk, which is draped with a pink plastic tablecloth. It has floral patterns.
The cooking range has a white plastic casserole in which the food remains warm. Small plastic boxes filled with spices like red chilly powder and turmeric powder are arranged on a soiled newspaper sheet. There is an almost-full bottle of mustard oil. Near the door are five plastic jars to store water. Two toothbrushes and a tube of Colgate toothpaste are stuck on the wall, between a wooden plank and a cardboard sheet. Two calenders are pasted on another wall. There is a hand-pump outside. Next to it is a billboard advertising a residential apartment complex. It says:
… Luxurious Inside