Mission Delhi – Sharib, Kamra Bangash
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
First, he plotted an escape from his Old Delhi. Then, he plotted a return. Sharib, 29, draws an arch of his eventful round journey. “My father is a retired mechanic. My bhai is a mechanic. I wanted to do something different, to get away from our Purani Dilli. With some efforts, I found a job far outside the (walled) city, in a mall… I gave up the retail line few years later, setting up my own business in our Purani Dilli, a business based on my hobby, I’m a hobbyist.”
This afternoon, Sharib’s Moon Light Stars Fish Aquarium in Kamra Bangash is filled with small and huge aquariums, which are filled with small and huge fish. “I launched it last year from my savings.” For years, Sharib worked in scores of Delhi-NCR shopping malls, always as a “beauty advisor” in lifestyle showrooms. He initially started as a shop assistant in a modest cosmetics shop in Chitli Qabar. That Walled City bazar first triggered his passion for fish; he would spot street vendors there selling decorative “machliyan” in small glass flasks. Sharib later moved to a cosmetics shop in Sadar Bazar, and from there he exited out to the malls of east Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon, commuting daily from his Old Delhi home..
As time rolled by, Sharib realised that the “duniya” outside Old Delhi isn’t really that different, except for the fact that “you can make more money” in the city’s newer parts. He nevertheless returned because “I didn’t want to slave for anyone, and…”. He falls silent, recollecting his thoughts, “… and only after going away from Purani Dilli did I realise its place in my life.”
Now two women step inside. Sharib gently guides them through various fish types. “… these ones are easy to manage, khati hai, khelti hain (they just eat and play),” he mutters. Not at all pushy, he makes the potential buyers feel at ease. They show much interest, but leave without buying any fish. Sharif climbs on his chair to clean the aquariums on an upper shelf.
One of the shop’s larger aquariums has dozens of fish of various sizes and colours swimming urgently in the water. Jostling, pushing, knocking, racing—paralleling the commotion of humans on the streets outside Sharib’s shop. The aquarium there being his Walled City.
[This is the 542nd portrait of Mission Delhi project]