Home Sweet Home – S. K. Rautray’s Pavement Quarter, Kasturba Gandhi Road
A whole world.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The sky is blue. The air is cool. The leaves of the neem tree are green. This is an idyllic place to live and it is home to S. K. Rautray. A man of no known employment, he lives here in good seasons as well as in not-so-good seasons when the sky is not blue, the air is not cool and the leaves of the neem tree are not green.
One afternoon The Delhi Walla enters Mr Rautray’s living quarter. It is but a few feet of pavement on Kasturba Gandhi Road. Mr Rautray is always seen sitting here at all times of the day. He is here even during the heavy monsoon showers (see last photo below).
Mr Rautray’s belongings are covered by a plastic. They include a notepad, a pen, a soap, a pair of shoes with socks, a couple of plastic containers and a pile of old newspapers. A half-filled bowl of milk is placed beside his blue slippers. His most prized possession is Monarch, a wrist watch—he is wearing it.
Mr Rautray describes himself as a New Yorker. He speaks fast and continuously and it is not easy to make out his accent.
A middle-aged pedestrian suddenly stops, shakes his head, and says: “I have been seeing him on this same spot for more than 25 years’.
Mr Rautray does not respond to the unsolicited comment. He gets up from the pavement, stands beside the tree, looks on at the traffic on the road, and absent-mindedly straightens up his trousers.
He seems perfectly at home.
His address in the world