Mission Delhi – Deen Dayal, Safdarjung Enclave
One of the one per cent in 13 million.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A firecracker goes up into the cold night sky and burst into a shower of sparkles. “That must be from a wedding celebration,” garbage collector Deen Dayal says. The Delhi Walla meets him on a Safdarjung Enclave pavement.
The 40-something Mr Dayal is standing beside two pungent-smelling trolleys filled up with rotting food, vegetable peels, eggshells, empty beer bottles, cardboard junk, and used sanitary napkins. “A MCD (Municipal Council of Delhi) truck will come to empty them.”
Mr Dayal arrived in Delhi more than a decade ago. He started by collecting garbage from individual households but now picks up only from street dustbins. Employed on a contract basis with a private firm that coordinates with the city’s municipal services, Mr Dayal earns Rs 3,000 monthly.
“My wife gets enough vegetables to cook, my children are able to attend the school,” he says.
Every morning at 7 am Mr Dayal leaves his two-room house in Jaitpur for Safdarjung Enclave. There he moves around in a pedaled wooden cart to gather the waste from various collection points. The day ends at 9 pm, unless he gets late, like tonight.
Mr Dayal used to grow dhaan and urad daal in his village in Uttar Pradesh. But picking the city’s refuse proved more attractive. “Here I’m sure to make money each month.” Still, life in the village had its advantages. “In Delhi, when you buy brinjals, you have no clue about their freshness. But in the village, you pluck them off from branches and immediately chop them into a subzi. Even the peas there taste different.” But Mr Dayal have no regrets. “The city’s regular income guarantees my children’s education.”
The garbage collector has six children: Sourabh, Radha, Roshni, Sachin, Shivam and Sonam.
“I want my children to study and work in offices.”
[This is the 11th portrait of the Mission Delhi project]
An honest living
For children’s education
Money is not bad
The trolley is full
Good luck, Mr Dayal