Mission Delhi – Muhammed Haroon, Galli Chooriwallan
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Life’s all stress. You may figure that out merely by scanning the faces of fellow commuters in the Metro. But Muhammed Haroon has found an escape. “I try not to think,” he says, explaining, “Thinking leads to tension.”
The genial 65-year-old printer is perched on his chair beside a mound of paper shavings at his small family-run printing press here in Old Delhi’s Galli Choori Wallan street. The summer’s seething sun has turned the lane outside into a stream of white-hot glare but inside it’s dark and cool. Patiently punching holes into standard-sized sheets that will be bound into a register, Mr Haroon’s eyes are focused on the task at hand as he shares his way of dealing with the pressures of the modern 24/7 life.
“I try to belong to the moment…. when I’m here in my press, I don’t think of my family… when I’m with my ‘yaar dost’ (friends), I don’t think of my work… and right now I may be chatting with you, but my mind is totally immersed in punching the holes,” says Mr Haroon.
Despite the clutter in the press, every object seems to have found a harmonious way to co-exist, as if that bulky secondhand paper-cutting machine over there in the corner couldn’t possibly have been happier anywhere else but on this spot. Mr Haroon’s elderly assistant is working silently on it. The machine’s gentle hum is as lulling as the rhythmic sound of a village flour mill.
“What I aim is to keep my ‘dimaag khali’ all the time… I’m focused on emptying my mind of needless thoughts and I achieve this by concentrating on the moment and finding my place in it,” he says.
But problems show up sometimes, don’t they?
His face as blank as the sheets in his hands, Mr Haroon says, confessing, “There are periods when I don’t get orders. When I don’t make much money. But I have trained myself not to worry.”
A few moments later the man beside the machine turns on the radio. The small press fills up with the melodies of an old Lata Mangeshkar song, and so unobtrusively as if it had always been lingering here. And Mr Haroon continues punching, presumably absorbed in his stress-free world.
[This is the 159th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Portrait of a stress-free man