Mission Delhi – Sanju Balmiki, Gurgaon
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He is mopping the floor in a billiard lounge. This is his first job in the Millennium City of Gurgaon in the National Capital Region. Sanju Balmiki, 24, having arrived from home town Manipuri, UP, three days ago. “I know this work very well,” affirms the young man, explaining his father has been in the “cleaning line for many years.”
But he isn’t seeing this assignment as a long-term strategy. “I’m just setting up base in the city.” Mr Balmiki, however, is diligent with the job, which he got with the help of an acquaintance. “Yeh naukri to doobte ko tinke ka sahara hai (this work is like a drowning man clutching a pebble to survive).”
Sweating profusely, his shirt dripping wet, Mr Balmiki finishes the errand and settles exhaustedly in a corner seat. “I’m professionally trained to do more qualified things in life. I’ve a diploma in Applied Business Applications.”
Indeed, the young man, at the cusp of his career, is putting up great hopes on this accomplishment and has sent his CV to many “big and small companies for any office job.” He is realistic about the formidable challenges. “The world revolves around English and I can barely speak it.” He is talking in Hindi.
But Mr Balmiki is too ambitious to be cowed into hopelessness by the language disadvantage. He has a plan. “As soon as I’m able to save some money from my current job, I’ll join an English-speaking course.” Meanwhile, he has already started to teach himself the language. Sinking deeper into the seat, he closes his eyes, and with great concentration, he speaks out, in English: “I’m from UP. My favourite hero is Salman Khan.” He opens his eyes, looking contended.
[This is the 210th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
When dreams demand English fluency