Mission Delhi – Bishen Das Sharma, Embassy Restaurant, Connaught Place
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This morning the restaurant at the colonial-era Connaught Place is practically empty except for some elderly gentlemen drinking coffee, or may be some fancy tea.
But another elderly citizen here at Embassy Restaurant is more than merely occupied. At age 67, Bishen Das Sharma has been working as a steward since 1983.
At this very moment he’s serving scrambled eggs and tea to a customer while explaining that he officially retired in 2011.
“I certainly have enough to live on. It’s not money, but a strong want to remain fit,” he says. The restaurant owner himself had suggested that Mr Sharma continue working, even though “I would have got my pension if I’d stayed at home.”
Not for Mr Sharma the toted bliss of retirement…taking the grandchildren to the park or just watching TV with his wife, Sunita, at home in Dwarka. He reckons retirement means simply staying at home, getting lazy, “and before you know it your knees go stiff. I don’t want that,” he chuckles, gently shaking his head. The talk veers towards other long-time Connaught Place stewards including the late “Sardari Lal who had been in our restaurant since the time it opened in 1948.”
Working from 9am to 4pm, Mr Sharma is also deeply religious. Praying every morning to Lord Shiva for two hours. Right now, though, he’s trudging up the stairs with a heavy platter of food for guests on the mezzanine floor.
Meanwhile, the elderly guests drinking coffee (or the fancy chai) show no signs of leaving. They’re evidently enjoying retirement.
[This is the 245th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
No retirement please