Mission Delhi – Wilfred Noel, Indian Coffee Home
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He’s so alone.
Don’t you wonder that on spotting a companion-less person sitting still in an otherwise lively café buzzing with friendly chatter?
That’s the scene this afternoon here in the courtyard of the Indian Coffee Home in central Delhi. The man is by himself on a table for four. His eyes are closed. Nothing of him is moving. He could as well be a statue.
It’s impossible for The Delhi Walla not to intrude into his solitary reverie.
Wilfred Noel has been here for more than an hour. “I have to meet a person who may help me get a job,” he reveals, explaining he recently retired as a security personnel.
At 62, Mr Noel feels he is still energetic enough to start the second innings of his working life “even though I suffer from high blood pressure… in fact, I didn’t order coffee because of that.”
Does it feel bad, or at least odd, to be so utterly alone in a place where everyone is with someone else? Just in front of him are two men talking animatedly about the soccer world cup. A few tables are occupied by marketing professionals who seem to be having a boardroom-kind of brainstorming discussion.
Mr Noel shrugs his shoulders, and instead starts talking in his deep voice that he has long stopped “feeling or thinking” about what people might make of him.
“I’m too grown up to care what people may think of me… besides now I don’t have much to think of… children are settled and have their own lives… my wife expired five years ago.”
Mr Noel lives alone and “with so much spare time at hand following the retirement I read Bible a lot.” He says he prepares his meals himself. This morning he made two parathas that he had with aloo subzi, which was the leftover from last night’s dinner.
After the appointment, he plans to head back to home in Dwarka and “perhaps I will clean the house.” Or, do something else, anything that keeps him off thinking for “that just puzzles the brain and I see no point in that,” he says, closing his eyes again “to be at peace”.
[This is the 163rd portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Lone man in the cafe