One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
“Hello sir,” she warmly greets the man as he steps into the shop.
Geeta Devi is probably Delhi’s only woman doorman. The Delhi Walla meets her one afternoon during her duty hours at the Good Earth luxury home décor store in Khan Market.
Looking down at her grey kurta, Ms Devi says, “Our uniform changed recently. Earlier I used to wear a green kurta.”
In her 40s, Ms Devi travels daily to work from her home in faraway Seelampur. Although she has to change three Metro trains to reach Khan Market, the long commute sits easy on her. Her voice is soft but brisk, and does not betray any hint of fatigue.
A woman in a long cotton skirt enters the showroom. Ms Devi instantly opens the door, saying, “Hello ma’am.” The woman has three handbags. Ms Devi keeps them in the rack behind her.
Ms Devi says she has been working in the store for eight years. Looking out into the day’s white heat, she says, “I started as a sales person in a shop in Mehrauli… today my son, Rahul, is in tenth standard.”
Ms Devi and her son live with her parents. “We have a separate room,” she says.
A customer prepares to leave the shop. Ms Devi opens the door saying, “Goodbye sir.” The customer gives a hurried smile and goes away.
Doesn’t she get bored of opening and closing the door hour after hour after hour?
Ms Devi smiles, and says, “That is not possible. I see such good people here daily… I sit down on this (wooden) stool for rest when I feel tired.”
A famous novelist enters. Ms Devi gives a cry of great happiness and hugs her. They both beam at each other. The novelist is probably on her way upstairs to the posh Latitude 28 restaurant.
Ms Devi says that her husband left her a few years ago. “Now I feel it was a good thing,” she says. “He was a problem in my life… and he had a drinking problem. Life became better when he went away….”
Looking out of the glass door, Ms Devi stands lost in contemplation. A woman nears the showroom. Ms Devi recollects herself and opens the door. But the woman walks past the showroom. Ms Devi pulls back the door.
[This is the 101st portrait of Mission Delhi project]