Mission Delhi – Ram Lal, Gurgaon
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It sure is not his most precious possession. It certainly is the most eye-catching.
“It’s my guthi,” says Ram Lal, taking out the pouch from his shirt pocket. It is sewed from a cotton fabric.
This afternoon, Mr Lal is sitting on a chair in his modest welding workshop watching the empty lane outside, here in Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region.
The pouch looks like an old-fashioned wallet but its owner uses it to keep his mobile. The phone is one of those instruments that were in vogue a decade earlier and could be used only to make calls or to send SMS-es. “I got it three years ago,” says Mr Lal, revealing it to be his first mobile phone.
He is 70.
“I never felt the need of a mobile until I sensed that my customers needed me to have one.”
Mr Lal lives with his wife in Jyoti Park. She doesn’t have a mobile phone. “It was my idea to have a pouch for the phone,” he clarifies, adding that initially his phone would slide out of his pocket each time he would bend down or sit on his haunches, which happens a lot in his kind of work. “I then went to a tailor and got a guthi stitched for me.”
Mr Lal’s pouch is smeared with grease, an everyday material of his work. “I wash the guthi once every week,” he says, adding, “Mobile is a very modern item and I’m still not used to it… the guthi makes the phone feel mine.”
He now keeps the phone carefully inside the pouch and inserts it into his breast pocket as if it’s a talisman.
The gentleman’s small workshop is bare of any decoration; the only noticeable thing is a series of digits scrawled on the wall.
That’s his mobile number.
[This is the 235th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
His mobile cover