Mission Delhi - Nitin Kumar, Outside RK Ashram Metro Station

Mission Delhi – Nitin Kumar, Outside RK Ashram Metro Station

One of the one percent in 13 million.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

There’s the cart for gol gappe. The other cart is selling nariyal pani That one is crammed with bananas. The street outside RK Ashram metro station looks ordinary. And then you spot something extraordinary. A cart piled up with hundreds of 2024 diaries.

Nitin Kumar got the idea of such a stall way back in 2014 when he first arrived in Delhi and spotted a pavement establishment stocked with diaries in Mukherjee Nagar. He was in the locality for the same reason that draws many other young ambitious folks there—to enrol in one of the many coaching centers for competitive exam preparations. “I found the coaching fee too high, but I thought of starting a similar business to fund my stay and studies in Delhi,” he says in a Hindi so eloquent and smooth-flowing that it is a joy to hear him speak.

A native of zila Etawah, Nitin Kumar aims to build a career in the police. He left his village after completing the tenth standard, and pursued higher education while working in Delhi—he obtained his BSc degree from Jhansi’s Bundelkhand University as a correspondence student. He says he left the home “income ke liye.” Next moment, he makes a correction– “what I earn cannot be called income, it only helps me meet basic necessities.” He could not succeed in the exams for Rajasthan Police, he says, and is now preparing for the similar exams for UP Police.

By selling diaries in Delhi, and keeping focus on the sub-inspector’s post, Nitin Kumar has broken a tradition in the family. He explains in detail. “I’m from a zameeni-level background. My grandfather was a farmer, my father is a farmer, if I too become a farmer, then my children too will become farmers, and I don’t want that.” He lifts his gaze towards the metro station, contracting his eyes. “In my life, I want parivartan.”

Nitin Kumar gets the diaries from wholesalers in Old Delhi’s Nai Sarak, and operates the stall everyday from noon to 9pm, after which he boards the Blue Line metro back to his pad in distant Dwarka. The stall is destined for a short life, since its owner will consign it to history as soon as he realises his ardent dream.

[This is the 575th portrait of Mission Delhi project]