Mission Delhi – Ranjit Rai, Jacobpura
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Curious about the world, rickshaw puller Ranjit Rai is fond of seeing new places.
In his late 20s, he has already lived in faraway cities such as Shillong in Meghalaya and Guwahati in Assam. “I was selling vegetables in Shillong, and was working in a tea stall in Guwahati.”
It’s not very expensive to leave one’s village for distant lands, he says.
This afternoon he is sitting on the passenger seat of his rickshaw parked on the Jacobpura roadside in Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region. The puller does have a small fertile “khet (agricultural land)” in his village in Bihar “but living at home gets monotonous.”
His family suggested that he could make some living in the nearby city of Patna. “But it was too close to home. I wanted to go far.”
Each city has its distinct mahaul (atmosphere) and one imbibes something from it, Mr Rai notes. He recalls memories of gazing upon the hills in Meghalaya, and remembers Guwahati as a place “where people always find time to talk to each other despite it being a big city.”
He finds this same ambiance in Gurgaon, too, where he has been a rickshaw puller for a year. This isn’t Mr Rai’s vehicle though. He pays a daily rent of 50 rupees to the owner and “these days I’m not able to earn much.”
In any case, Mr Rai will be leaving the city in January.
“I’ll return to the village for a season.” Later, he plans to work for a while in Patna. “Since some time I have wanted to be close to home,” he says, absent-mindedly taking out tobacco mixture from his pocket, while patiently waiting for business.
[This is the 259th portrait of Mission Delhi project]