Mission Delhi – Surya Lal Maurya, Azadpur
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Walk along the Azadpur back lanes in north Delhi at night and you’re bound to run across weary day labourers settling in for some shut-eye. On the pavement, or perhaps on the creaky carts they hauled around until a few hours ago.
This scenario isn’t much different from the lives of day labourers anywhere else in our city. And these days they are never seen without one crucial item: the mobile phone.
One lazy Sunday afternoon, The Delhi Walla bumped into Surya Lal Maurya in an alley where he had just finished some off-duty chores, like laundry. He was kind enough to explain why his phone is important.
“I often call my wife Sushila on WhatsApp back home (in UP) because it’s free!” He also uses it to view photos of his two boys Ankit and Rohit. “My first phone was a keyboard walla Nokia,” he says, adding that though he had no phone at all when arriving in Delhi 12 years ago. Weeks would pass by before the family heard from him, “But now I send photos to Sushila almost daily. I tell her I’m fine, and she does the same.”
Mr Maurya deploys a sturdy handset which he bought for Rs 6,000 five years ago. “It’s my constant companion.” At bedtime, he’s liable to fall asleep while listening to Mohammed Rafi crooning on YouTube.
So… is the phone a source of comfort when he gets homesick? Mr Maurya looks startled and smirks. He points out that “I’m nobody’s slave! When I want to go home I just head for the station and take the train.”
[This is the 140th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Her city dreams