Mission Delhi – Raghav Kumar Jha, Connaught Place
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This is a job that needs confidence. To reach out to people. To talk smartly, and without awkwardness. To be prepared to be snubbed. To answer various queries. And it needs the employee to be well versed in the art of persuasion. And yes, a nice smile is a bonus.
Raghav Kumar Jha has a brilliant smile, in fact, that glows about his entire face like a luminous halo. This evening he is stationed beside a zebra crossing in Connaught Place, standing amid a continuous motion of shoppers going about in all directions. Despite the crowd, he is easily noticeable in his uniform. Working in the “sales and marketing” of a burger shop, he is wearing a giant burger about him. Is it styrofoam, or cardboard, or what?
Mt Jha simply smiles in response. At 22, this is his life’s second job. “After getting compartment (sic) twice in 9th standard, papa suggested that maybe I should do something else.” So he got a job in a bag making factory and started bringing his contribution to the family income—his father, he says, sometimes works as a kalakar (artist) in weddings and similar events. Soon afterwards Mr Jha landed up in his current job. “I was earning very well before the (coronavirus-triggered) lockdown,” he discloses matter-of-factly, without showing any disappointment on his smiling face.
Doesn’t he sweat in this attire?
He shakes his head.
Does he enjoy his job?
He answers—“Wherever you happen to be, give your full heart into it.” He explains that his primary task is to walk up to the pedestrians, tell them about the burger, and try to convince them to head to the shop he’s working for.
“As I stand, I keep singing songs in my mann (thoughts). That makes me happy. When I’m happy, I gain confidence. Which gives me strength to approach people, who are otherwise complete strangers to me.”
And does Mr Jha have any dream? Or does he wish to stay in this “line” for years to come? “Desires and dreams only make a person dukhi (sad),” he says with a smile. And with that unchanging smile, he turns to the crowd, perhaps planning which person to approach next. He will return home, in Kishenganj, at 9 pm.
[This is the 399th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The soul of the burger