City Life – Rickshaw Puller Saroj Pal’s Pillow, Central Delhi
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This rather humid morning Saroj Lal in Central Delhi is still sound asleep in his rickshaw, his body splayed across it. With his feet lazily slumped over the handle bar.
So many other pullers sleep exactly like this, that the casual onlooker might not spot one crucial difference: Mr Lal’s head is more or less hanging in mid air, resting in a sling made out of his white gamcha scarf. Now awake, Mr Lal explains that the scarf acts as a pillow—“an idea I got from a friend.”
“Before that, I had trouble sleeping in my rickshaw because I’m too tall and had to fold my legs.”
He also would sometimes sleep on the pavement with the rickshaw parked beside him, “but that wasn’t a very good idea either. Somebody would steal the rickshaw’s mirror or tear off the seat cover.” Once he woke up to find a stray dog sleeping on the seat.
Finally, the friend, who’s also a puller, taught him how to create the makeshift pillow from his scarf. Evidently many other drivers do the same, says Mr Lal.
So, is he now getting a good night’s sleep? Mr Lal laughs shyly, and slowly shakes his head. “There is nothing better than sleeping on the bed.”
Hammock for the head