Mission Delhi – Paramjeet Singh Sahni, Connaught Place
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Paramjeet Singh Sahni has never seen any reason to obtain a mobile phone.
“I’m myself a mobile, seeking out all my favourite people and venues every single day,” declares the turbaned gentleman, now headed for the Information Centre Library at Connaught Place.
It’s been his daily haunt for four decades. But “unfortunately, there’s talk about losing it forever,” reflects the 69-year-old. “People hardly every go there anymore.”
The gentleman continues chatting and reminiscing a bit. As a onetime activist during the AIDS crisis Mr Singh points out that neither he nor his activist friends ever accepted outside funding. “We’d pool some of our own money.” He himself never carries a wallet but does have small cash (and no plastic money) in his pocket along with blood pressure pills.
Now entering the library, Mr Sahni reflects on some once favourite haunts—he calls them his ‘addas’. But he no longer frequents Indian Coffee House, “because it’s become too expensive.” He’s also given up on Indian Coffee Home because they’ve posted security people at the entrance who check bags and pockets. “I find that intrusive.”
The lean man surveys the empty shelves in the library; and suggests he doesn’t at all mourn the death of longtime traditions. “Let’s remember, that institutions are like humans. Sooner or later, they die.”
Later today he plans sauntering over to Jantar Mantar, a popular protest venue where he may bump into some old friends. “In that case, we’ll have tea together at a pavement stall.” Which is one of his addas that has remained unchanged.
[This is the 256th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A man of principles