Mission Delhi – Aryan Khan, Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
No second thoughts, no doubt, absolutely no dilemma. Aryan Khan, 18, arrived in Delhi a week ago, and is as clear as a glassy stream about his aims.
“I need to be an excellent hair stylist, open my own hair-cutting saloon in Dilli, send money every month to maa-baap in the village, get married, and have children.”
Such intense focus presupposes a person to look solemn, serious and boring. But Aryan Khan’s carefree expressions are that of a laid-back man who must be crooning love songs in his waking hours. “I love Hindi film songs,” he affirms, squeezing out a fistful of shaving foam from a tube. His rehearsed hand spreads the white foam evenly on a customer’s face, here in this modest barber shop in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti. Just then his mobile phone rings to the tunes of Chikni chameli, a dance number from a 2012 blockbuster.
Looking boldly at his reflection in the mirror, the young man flashes a smile. “I learned hair cutting in our village shop—Azad Hair Saloon…. worked there for a year.” He opens a drawer, unwraps a new razor, sprays a sanitiser all over it, and inserts it into a razor holder.
This is his life’s first true job, he insists. Conceding that he could have built his career in the village, or in the home district’s biggest city (Meerut), he explains that it was important for him to move to Delhi. Deftly manoeuvring the razor on the delicate region between the customer’s nose and upper lip, he says that “my parents have to feel proud about me. Our relatives, our neighbours, our village need to see that the ladka (boy) left for a big city, that he established himself successfully… this way stature of my parents shall greatly increase.”
He continues to shave, remaining silent but smiling frequently. In the end, he rubs the small soap-like phitkari (alum block) on the customer’s face. So far so good, he says contentedly, not caring to mention if he is referring to the shave he just did or to his early days in Delhi.
Posing for a portrait, Aryan Khan laughs, responding to a query: “Yes, Shahrukh Khan’s son has the same name as mine.”
[This is the 501st portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A self-made man