Mission Delhi – Waris Ram, Karol Bagh
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s so appallingly early on this cold morning, but Waris Ram is already up and about, walking along a deserted street in the west Delhi neighbourhood of Karol Bagh. In his early 40s, he is holding a walking stick that he uses to shoo away the street dogs who, he says, always tend to bark aggressively at him.
“I don’t know anybody here,” he mutters without any emotion, vaguely gesturing towards the shuttered shops. But then adds he doesn’t mind not knowing folk in Delhi, “because I want to be alone.”
Mr Ram arrived in the capital 6 months ago from his village in faraway Assam. “There were problems at home, no shanti (peace).” He boarded a series of trains to Delhi without a ticket or money. And has made do ever since.
He avers that he doesn’t miss his home, nor does he have any emotional ties to our city either. Apparently, he has no feeling for any earthly destination. Gazing upwards at the cloudy sky, he says it will be his ultimate home someday, “that’s where I’m headed to.”
Mr Ram doesn’t ask for any help, he says. When hungry he usually stops outside a temple or Sikh or Sufi shrine where he’s inevitably offered roti or rice by somebody or another.
“I have no place, and no complaints either,” he says quietly.
He now plans to linger outside a nearby chai stall, with all his worldly possessions slung in a black bundle hanging from his shoulders. Just another Delhi day in the life of Waris Ram.
[This is the 284th portrait of Mission Delhi project]