Home Sweet Home – Ice Cream Sellers’ Dwelling, Rajouri Garden
A hidden boarding house.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
You see them almost everywhere.
And especially during those burning summer months when the demand for cold treats transforms ice cream venders into temporal gods. There they are! Dragging their trolleys around under the midday sun.
But where do these enterprising merchants actually live?
One answer emerged the other day while finding myself in West Delhi’s Rajouri Garden. The Delhi Walla spots dozens of ice cream carts parked in a roadside yard, with clothing draped over them.
“Must be laundry,” I mutter. Sure enough, the yard leads to a very long hall without windows, and crammed to the gills with beds, suitcases and slippers.
This is the shared dwelling for around 20 sellers all hailing from the Jaunpur district in UP.
At first, I can’t see anything at all, but thanks to a couple of faintly glowing lamps I finally get a sense of the place. There’s a mashed-up mosquito net tucked away in a corner, while closer at hand I spot a niche housing an idol of the goddess Durga.
There’s also a forlorn TV of older vintage, switched off; most of the beds are empty. I do run across Bullu, a vendor who’s overslept. “We usually leave around 10,” he says sheepishly, “but I didn’t get back home until 3am.”
They’ve got all sorts of cooking arrangements, with stoves and gas burners beside each bed. “Each of us cooks separately because we turn up at different times during our long days and nights,” explains Bullu.
An elderly man dressed in kurta and dhoti now tiptoes in. He could easily be mistaken for a farmer from Jaunpur, but no. “I sell ice cream,” he declares.
Where the ice cream sellers are