City Home - On the Lane, Hazrat Nizamuddin East

City Home – On the Lane, Hazrat Nizamuddin East

City Home - On the Lane, Hazrat Nizamuddin East

Their temporary address.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Nizamuddin East is too posh. The dwellers include a nawab’s daughter, a former chief minister, another former chief minister’s politician son, a jet-setting film director, a top notch hotelier, a retired chief justice, and some of the country’s most expensive lawyers. Since the quiet “colony” prefers to stay estranged from the rest of our chaotic city, 8pm here is feeling like 11pm. Residents Shaan, Sehwad and Zafar have just settled down for the night. The young men’s shared bed is a sheet of tirpal, unrolled along a neighbourhood lane. Excerpts from their chitchat.

Shaan: We have been here for some days to demolish a bangla. (He gestures to the blue barricades behind.)

Sehwad: A new building will come up.

Shaan: We are labour (sic), we specialise in demolishing old houses… with the help of machines.

Sehwad: We always stay together… we are like blood brothers, from the same district—Budaun. The thekedar helps us get work.

Shaan: We have seen a lot of Dilli. Always moving from one site to another site, staying in a place until the end of the assignment, which might be for a few days or a few weeks. We were last in DLF Phase 1 (in Gurgaon).

Sehwad: Before that we were in Safdarjung Enclave.

Shaan: We have also lived in Noida, in Sector 6 Gurgawa…

Sehwad: We started laboury (sic) four years ago.

Shaan: I’m 24. Sehwad is 22, and Zafar is…

Zafar (speaking for the first time): I’m 19.

(Long pause follows.)

Sehwad: Our sleep is very deep. Try slapping us tar-tar-tar at 2am! Ek zu bhi nahi rengegi (not even a lice will stir).

Zafar: But these mosquitoes!

Shaan: Aren’t Lucknow and Punjab playing tonight? (A reference to IPL cricket match).

Zafar: This should be our last night here. The work’s almost over.

Shaan: Soon back to Budaun.

Zafar: To spend Eid with the family.

Sehwad: The bus starts from Anand Vihar bas adda. One-way ticket costs 340 rupees.

Zafar: It’s 600!

Sehwad: Don’t know yet where will be our next assignment.

The men fall quiet. Some minutes later, Shaan takes off his shirt and rubs the mosquito repellent cream on his chest and arms. A community dog called Tikka comes over and sits by the bed.