Inside the walls.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

This entire middle-class neighborhood has changed except for his home. Known simply as Chacha Jan, or Dear Uncle, the elderly Muslim man arrived in Vasundhara in 2000. Situated on the outskirts of Delhi, the area was uninhabited. His home was the only structure here. Today, there are dozens of apartment blocks, each with its barricaded gate and a private Hindu temple.

And in this portion of precious real estate, Chacha Jan’s makeshift dwelling has been allowed to survive.

A native of western Uttar Pradesh, he lives here alone. Made of plywood planks and blue tarpaulin sheets, Chacha Jan’s house doubles up during the day as his teashop, mostly patronized by the area’s security guards and, in the morning, by newspaper vendors.

It is dark and musty inside. A naked lamp is the only electric equipment.

The furniture consists of a wooden table, a chair and a bed, over which is hung a mosquito net. A clothesline is strung across the room. Three jars of biscuits are placed beside a calendar. A polythene bag shows film star Shahid Kapoor.

A bench outside the entrance offers seating facility to Chacha Jan’s tea-drinking customers.

Talking of his residence-cum-stall, he says, “One day the authorities may ask me to clear off. I will then go to some other place.”

Oldest landmark here

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