Mission Delhi – Muhammed Shahid, Central Delhi
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking he might be one of the world’s tallest men, maybe someone in the Guinness Book of World Records?
But, Muhammed Shahid is too busy to think about awards, as he struts his stuff before a crowd here in central Delhi. He slaps his hand dramatically on his forehead, then on the back of his neck, and finally with considerable theatricality, he kicks his lanky legs into the air as the roadside audience steps back in a collective gasp.
“Actually, I’m hawking painkilling body oil,” Mr Shahid explains after selling a couple of bottles to his audience. No longer performing, the 37-year-old suddenly seems less charismatic.
He’s not very tall in real life. Right now, though he’s got narrow planks of wood strapped to his legs—invisible until he playfully pulls up his pants.
Every morning he ties the planks onto his legs before heading for another day of salesmanship. “This thing about height, it’s just a marketing trick,” laughs Mr Shahid. He’s been doing it well on two decades. “Got the idea one day at a circus where the performer getting the most applause wore similar planks and was acting funny.”
He now moves along to another venue where a fresh crowd will gaze upon him with appropriate awe.
[This is the 197th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
We never know how high we are… till we are called to rise