Mission Delhi – Nazm Kaur, New Colony, Sector 7
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
If this doesn’t work out, then maybe she can do something else — but no. Nazm Kaur has no plan B. Neither do her parents, with whom she lives in Gurgaon’s New Colony, Sector 7, in the Greater Delhi Region. The entire family, including Nazm’s brother who lives in Bangalore, are dance instructors. Ms Kaur and her parents teach dancing in their 5-year-old studio called Nrityarang, that they run in a first-floor hall nearby, large enough to accommodate 20 students.
Or rather, that’s what they used to do.
“The pandemic totally disrupted our life,” says Ms Kaur. In her 20s, she is sitting between her parents at the dining table, talking to her interlocutor through WhatsApp video. Dancing, she explains, involves a close proximity between people. “But what to do at a time when meeting anyone outside your family involves danger (of catching the infection)?”
Early last year, during the first pandemic-ridden lockdown, Ms Kaur earnestly tried to settle into the new normal. She made investigations, talked to friends, did Internet searches on how dance instructors could carry on within such drastic limitations, and learned about Zoom.
“And then we started online classes in April (last year)… but I wasn’t confident in this medium, and people initially weren’t willing to pay fees for online dance teaching, so for one month I did free demos and classes, to help me train myself on how to teach online.” But Ms Kaur and her family met challenges unique to Internet. She had to set up various protocols while designing the classes, keeping in mind various concerns like “what if somebody on the other side of the laptop screen is secretly recording me, etc.” Her chiefest concern being that these “virtual” students ought not to see her and her parents “as entertainers, but as educators… for dancing is an art, a meditation… it’s like yoga.”
The family reopened the studio in January, imagining that the worst of the pandemic was behind them. “We had to close it again this month.”
Today, Ms Kaur and family manage to earn just enough to pay the bills “but we are really waiting for the pandemic to end, when masks will be removed and our skills will shine again in studio and stage…. only that will bring hope to us.” She says, her face beaming with infectious optimism.
[This is the 400th portrait of Mission Delhi project]