Mission Delhi – Ramesh Giri, Old Delhi
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This 64-year-old says he lives alone on city pavements, and that’s perfectly true except for one thing.
Ramesh Giri cohabits with his artificial jewellery.
“I know the secrets of these shining stones,” he mutters mysteriously. Sitting on an Old Delhi street-side, Mr Giri pulls up his right pant leg. His ankles are literally bandaged in glass beads and chains, including strings of plastic sequins. He now dramatically lifts up the left pant leg. Similarly decked.
Introducing himself as a “paidayeshi Dilli walla (those born in Delhi),” he explains that the jewels “help keep me in harmony with my life,” mumbling calmly, oblivious to the chaos of the street life, as if he is sitting by a cafe’s window-side table. His back is plopped up against a gunny sack “stuffed with things that I need for my day-to-day living.
“Over many years people in temples have offered these chains to me, and sometimes shopkeepers donate them. They know I don’t wear them for fashion or greed.”
His neck embraces at least half a dozen pendants, while necklaces, bangles and bracelets are strung around both wrists. “Sometimes I find chains strewn on the street, but that’s very rare.”
Now a stray dog sits alongside Mr Giri, prompting him to remark that “dogs are like precious stones. They, too, provide peace of mind.”
But, it must be a bit of a chore to remove all that jewellery when it’s time to have a bath? Mr Giri smiles knowingly as if he is the preserver of a profound secret. “These are not clothes, they’re part of me. I never remove them.”
[This is the 277th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The bejewelled man