Mission Delhi – Muhammed Alam, Outside Hope Apartments, Gurgaon
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Summer isn’t a friendly season in our part of the world. But tailor Muhammed Alam’s four children aren’t insisting that he get an AC for their one-room home in Gurgaon village in Gurgaon city, National Capital Region.
“They are wise kids… my eldest Shahid is 6, Ajmal is 4, Nadia is 3, and Heena is the youngest,” mutters the tailor, while working on his sewing machine at his roadside stall in Sector 15. A plastic awning is sheltering him from the resentful sun.
Mr Alam is grateful to his children for adapting their expectations to his limited income. “They know this is what papa earns and they have understood my limitations.” To get an AC for the house is out of the question, the tailor says, but acquiring even a simple cooler is a luxury. “We have survived many summers with the help of a ceiling fan, and hopefully this time too it will do.” There’s no TV either in the house. Unlike many of their school mates who watch songs and films on their parents’ mobile phones, Mr Alam’s children live a life without such distractions. “I have only this kabara (raggedy) phone,” he takes out an old keypad mobile.
Sprinkling water around his booth to cool down the heat, the tailor talks of the amenities he wants to give his children. “I know they want to study in a bade (big) school, where the monthly fees go up to thousands of rupees, but we can’t afford that.”
The children go to government school instead. “It’s free… I don’t have to pay anything.”
It’s almost noon now and Mr Alam takes a break for lunch. Soon, an AC school bus of the Delhi Public School stops outside Hope Apartments, a residential complex situated across the road. A handful of kids get off.
“Sometimes my children talk among themselves about their friends who have TV or cooler at home,” says the tailor, “but I know they aren’t unhappy.”
[This is the 206th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The typewriter man