Mission Delhi – Neelesh Kumar, Gurgaon
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Whether alone or in company, everyone is looking stressed in this Gurgaon public garden in the Greater Delhi Region.
But not gardener Neelesh Kumar. Standing by a hedge, he is proving to be an exception. With his flip flop-wearing feet caked in mud, his hands holding a shovel, a spade, and a mobile, he is smiling most beatifically.
What’s the story behind such bliss?
Mr Kumar shrugs good-naturedly. In his early 20s, he says he just finished watching a music video of singer-dancer Sapna Choudhary on his mobile “and her performances always freshens (he uses the Hindi word ‘taaza’) the heart.”
The other reason is that he is soon leaving for the lunch break. “There will be food and a few minutes of rest, and who won’t be happy about that!”
Perhaps the more enduring if unacknowledged factor behind the man’s pleasant countenance is that he feels grateful to have a job in a big city “and while the salary is quite low, I’m still able to send some money every month to my parents (in MP).”
Mr Kumar is also smart about his daily expenses and succeeds in regularly saving a little portion of his earnings “for my future needs.”
Then there’s one more reason for “aam khushi (common happiness).” The young man lives in the Millennium City with his sister and her family “so I’m not alone like other labourers, nor do I miss home or ghar ka khana.” His sister prepares meals for him, he explains.
And now, his face breaking into a grin, he opens YouTube on his mobile to show his favourite Sapna Choudhary stage performance.
[This is the 275th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A happy gardener