Mission Delhi – Devendra Bisht, Bahrisons Booksellers, Galleria Market
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Coronavirus isn’t going away any time soon. One will have to live with the pandemic.
These are truths universally acknowledged.
Devendra Bisht, 39, has appropriately adapted his present days to the new normal without making much fuss.
“Life has to go on, work must carry on,” he stoically says this afternoon, talking on WhatsApp from his work. He is the branch head, sales, at Bahrisons Booksellers bookstore in Gurgaon’s Galleria Market. Unlike most of us, Mr Bisht has been attending to his day-job duty long before the last batch of the lockdown ended in the Delhi region. “I joined work as soon as the bookshops were permitted to restart their operations.”
In the BC (before corona) era, Mr Bisht would commute daily on the Yellow Line metro from Delhi’s Katwaria Sarai to the so-called Millennium City. But to avoid risky commuting, his thoughtful employers arranged a flat for him in Gurgaon, where he is with six other colleagues.
“It’s very close to the shop… we walk to work.”
Mr Bisht and his team are observing all the safety measures on the job, from wearing masks to using sanitisers and washing hands frequently with soap. Right now he is wearing long gloves too.
But such caution, in such unprecedented times, are not always enough to bring comfort to anxious loved ones. Hema Bisht often dials her husband on phone from their Delhi home, urging him to maintain a safe distance while interacting with customers. “She is worried for me,” he remarks. He is equally anxious for her and their two boys—he hasn’t visited them for more than 20 days, to avoid unnecessary commuting. “I tell her not to let Ashish and Akash leave the house… and that she must be masked and gloved while out on grocery shopping.”
The couple talks on WhatsApp video every night.
But Mr Bisht certainly doesn’t feel alone. He cherishes the company of his colleagues, who presently are also his rooomies—Sikander, Pooran, Rahul, Bali, Hari Om, and Chander.
“We cook dinner together.” They usually reach their pad around nine. Last night they were too lazy to prepare an elaborate meal, and so quickly rustled out the easy dish of pulao—boiling rice with an assortment of vegetables.
Now Mr Bisht briefly steps out of the shop. It is early evening. The market plaza on the ground floor is empty except for a figure walking around the fountain. Mr Bisht points out towards the setting sun, the scene is looking just as it used to in the evenings before corona. As if nothing has changed.
[This is the 325th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
At work, as always