Mission Delhi – Munazir, Central Delhi
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Most Delhiites are familiar with the deep-throated cry of “kabadi walla kabadi walla!” (scrap collector, scrap collector!) as he walks along residential lanes. His cry is so penetrating that it drifts into the windows of surrounding houses, becoming an integral component of domestic sounds that linger in the home during the day.
Curiously, the sound always tends to have the same pitch and modulation even if it’s not the same scrap collector.
How is this possible?
Scrap collector Munazir, in Central Delhi, smiles. “You learn how to do it. We’re taught by gurus to do it right.”
And now, the sound of his conversational voice is totally different from what he was sounding like moments ago.
After graduating in sociology and Hindi literature, Munazir couldn’t find a job, “so I got into this line of work after advice from friends”; but hasn’t yet “come out” as a kabadi walla to his larger circle of acquaintances. Although he allowed himself to be snapped, he asked that only his side profile be used for this dispatch.
The first step towards scrap collection for him, he says, was to find a master who could guide him into the work. “And it’s this guru who trained me into the fine art of the trademark cry. It took me 15 days to learn from my guru Mushtaq.”
Munazir now returns to his job, moving further along the street, transforming himself once again into a kabadi walla. Soon he’s no longer seen but his hoarse cry can still be heard.
[This is the 244th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The sound of kabadi walla