Mission Delhi – Farhan Zaidi, Khureji Khas
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
These are bigger rooms, and here’s a hall too—finally ensuring a separate drawing room to host guests.
After a lifetime in Old Delhi, Farhan Zaidi, 27, an art director in a Gurgaon-based advertising agency, is making a fresh start in east Delhi’s Khureji Khas.
This is his first day here as a dweller. He is tiptoeing about the second-floor apartment with parents and younger sister, Shagufi, who works as a dialysis technician nurse in a south Delhi hospital.
“This house is my gift to mamma/papa.” Mr Zaidi bought the apartment with his savings, built over a period of six years of career, and partly with bank loans. The family had been living for decades in a tiny flat within the Walled City’s Chandni Mahal police station. It was allotted to Mr Zaidi’s father, an additional sub-inspector in the Delhi Police. “Papa will retire in three years and we will have to give up that house… so I got this place.”
In his waking hours, Mr Zaidi is a Gurgaonwalla—his office is in Delhi’s neighbouring so-called Millennium City. Why didn’t he shift there?
“My parents want to stay close to our native western UP. Gurgaon would be too far and they feared if we moved there, we would be cut off from relatives.”
Mr Zaidi’s former neighbourhood almost completely comprises of Muslim families, he says, whereas in this housing complex, his is the only Muslim household, others being Sikh and Hindu. Drawing apart the window curtains, he admits he is one of the rare people to be born and brought up in the cloistered world of Old Delhi who have been able to build a thriving life outside it. “I know very few people there with a job in Gurgaon… and I don’t know anyone there with my kind of job profile.”
And now he is literally out of the old city. “So exciting! I chose every detail of our new house, including the wall colours… everything’s by me.”
The only detail that stays beyond Mr Zaidi’s control is his Metro commute to Gurgaon.
“It will now take me one-and-a-half hour instead of one hour to the office,” he says without regrets.
[This is the 397th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A house for Mr Zaidi