Mission Delhi – Farzana Siddiqui, Kucha Chelan
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The denizens of Old Delhi are notorious for staying awake late into the night.
But, of course, there are exceptions. Such as Farzana Siddiqui who is in bed by 10pm after a long workday that starts with a grueling gym workout.
“Ten months ago I just knew I had to do something,” explains this 40-something medical practitioner and homemaker from Kucha Chelan neighbourhood, her face covered with a dupatta. “My muscles were loosening… I knew I had to keep fit, otherwise I would catch all sorts of illnesses. Cholesterol, heart attack… ”
Ms Siddiqui is one of the first members to enter the gym as it rolls up its shutters at 6am when the streets outside are as quiet as a grave. She’s also one of its oldest members, maintaining a regular workout schedule not always practiced by the younger lot.
“I wake up at 5,” she says, “and our entire family offers fajr ki namaz (morning prayer in Islam) before sitting down for breakfast. A very early breakfast! Today, I made daliya (porridge) and anda paratha.”
Ms Siddiqui exudes a friendly vibe in this unisex gym. This morning she greeted the gym instructor, gushing, “Isn’t this new morning a miracle. Imagine, we didn’t die in our sleep last night. Shouldn’t we thank god!”
Now pedaling fast and furiously, the veiled lady is working on “every muscle in the body!” A few moments later Ms Siddiqui disembarks from the bike, chats with a young man about his mother’s knee pain, asks another to switch on the AC, and then approaches two 10kg dumbbells with gritty determination.
[This is the 154th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The Walled City woman’s workout