City Life – Friends Outside Facebook, Shivji Park, Gurgaon
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is rare these days to come across folks who aren’t on Facebook. That’s why these three gentlemen sitting in a hair-cutting salon in Gurgaon’s Shivji Park seem so special. Perhaps they are on Instagram, you may wonder.
Bad guess. They have no clue about it.
These middle-aged citizens of the Futuristic City are nonetheless still able to enjoy a life untouched by social media.
“We don’t need Facebook to gossip,” says Suresh, the shop’s barber, laughing. The other two are Lalaji of the adjacent shop Lalaji Footwear and Ramniwas Kaushik, a bazaar landlord.
The friends often pass the empty hours of their day “by not wasting time on mobile phone but in gupshup (chitchat),” says the poked-faced Lalaji.
Spending an hour with the trinity is like being transported back into an earlier era when there was no mobile phone. They do have a phone each, to tell you the truth, but the distracting instrument is buried deep into their pockets.
This afternoon, the men are fanning a kind of small talk that one unwittingly overhears from fellow travellers in long-distance Rajdhani Expresses. The “gup-shup” is spiced with humorous sarcasm about the local gentry as well as famous politicians. The landlord has just started cribbing about his neighbourhood. “Shivji Park! What a name! No Shiv Mandir here and no park!”
The other two happily shake their head.
An ice-cream seller passes by. A familiar face, he briefly joins the chattering circle. Following a quick “vanilla cup” break, the session restarts with a discussion about the saloon’s sofa. “Thousands of people have sat on it since I bought it some 18 years ago,” mumbles Suresh.
Minutes later, a mild diatribe is launched against the neighbourhood’s elderly men who play cards on the pavements.
And so, the babble tumbles along, punctuated with pauses every now and then.
At one point, barber Suresh complains of the low business these days—“haven’t got a massage order for years!”
Some moments later, his nephew enters carrying a tray of home-made meal. The assembly immediately dissolves. Lalaji crosses the street to his shop. The landlord returns to his home upstairs for a siesta. The barber settles down for lunch.
The non-facebook friends shall catch up later in the day.
Real world friends