Mission Delhi – Manohar Fakir, Central Delhi
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This junk collector intensely feels the impact of climate change.
Every day, for instance, the homeless man has to figure out where to get fresh water.
Now taking a brief break on a Delhi pavement, Manohar Fakir points to the water bottle beside him. “I get my water almost every day from a shouchalay (public toilet).”
He pauses. “But sometimes I secretly collect water from a cooler in a nearby big people’s club.”
Living alone in the city, Mr Fakir says it’s difficult to wash himself every day. “I do it in the shouchalay, I do as much as I possibly can.”
On this particular afternoon the humidity is dreadful. Staring vacantly into the cloudy skies, the junk collector muses on what he calls “underground activities (exact phrase: zameen ke neeche ke karname.)” “You people draw your water from below the ground, but ´below´ is getting deeper and deeper.”
The earth directly beneath our city is being destroyed by the foundations of new buildings, he reckons, “and you people have dug down deep to build the Metro. Where will the poor water go?”
In an expression-less voice, the gentleman predicts that water will soon disappear.
Mr Fakir now falls silent, and closes his eyes. The wooden pole he wields against harassing stray dogs is precariously balanced on his precious water bottle.
[This is the 224th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The water intellectual