Mission Delhi – Kamal Kishor, South Delhi
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He doesn’t know what water chestnuts are. Neither has he ever tasted any Thai dish, he says. But he has brought coriander dimsums with water chestnuts, and soggy Thai chicken fried rice for tonight’s dinner.
It’s not his.
This is Kamal Kishor’s first delivery, here in a south Delhi apartment. This evening he launches himself as a food delivery man, a career that has become more ubiquitous since the pandemic began last year, when eateries shut down for long periods. More and more people have been resorting to mobile phone apps to experience restaurant-grade cuisines at home.
“I hope all the dishes are in good condition. It’s my first delivery so I don’t know exactly how it works,” he says nervously. In his 30s, Mr Kishor is a “full-time security guard” but decided to additionally work as a food delivery man in his off-duty hours “because my salary is low”. As he takes out the smartly packed meal boxes from his huge bag, he carefully studies the dish names scrawled on the top of each box, and reads them aloud. A seasoned delivery man simply hands over the food and exits. But Mr Kishor is behaving with the observant thoroughness of a first-time flyer intently paying attention to the air hostess as she mimics the safety instructions before the take-off.
This job might help him to support his household, he hopes. “My wife died some years ago, and I‘m left alone to raise my two children.” Daughter Sunridhi, 10, and son Kunal, 8, are at home. It is 9pm. They are under the watchful eyes of his younger brother at this very moment.
Mr Kishor now looks at a scrap of paper and wonders if the food he is delivering is already paid for or not. With some embarrassment, he asks the customer to clarify.
Later, as he leaves, he expresses delight in the thrill of starting a new chapter in his working life, though he isn’t sure just how much he will earn from this first delivery. “I want to make just enough money so that my kids can realise their dreams. I have to be both papa and mummy to them. I have to work hard.”
[This is the 418th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
His first delivery