Mission Delhi – Sanjana Paswan, Chirag Delhi
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Only a couple of hours into the afternoon, she already feels like the morning was in some other age. This long day is unfolding into an exceptionally happy one for Sanjana Paswan. She is 28 and she had waited for this moment for so long. “At last, a parlour of my own,” she says, raising her head and glancing sidewards, as if she’s disclosing this precious piece of information to a friend only visible to her. “It’s a big achievement for me,” gushes the woman who has mostly worked as a “freelancer” travelling to “shaadi-waale houses” to apply make-up on the household women.
The beautician launched the salon at 8.30am today in a narrow lane in south Delhi’s Chirag Delhi village. “With the help of a friend,” she points out. The friend runs a men’s salon nearby, “and in a way, this will be a part of that same parlour… but this one is for ladies, and here, I’m the boss”.
Although Ms Paswan’s everyday work clothes tend to be “jeans and tops and suits”, today she took the trouble to drape herself in a green silk sari that her brother, Ashok, bought for her from Lajpat Nagar for this milestone moment in her life.
The salon, too, has been dressed up. The walls are adorned with marigold garlands brought from the flower market in Mehrauli. A “pandit ji” from the nearby Shiv Mandir arrived for the inaugural pooja. He also performed a hawan.
The prayers seem to be working. The salon is busy at the moment. Ms Paswan’s colleagues — Roopa Haldar and Sneha — are threading the eyebrows of their respective customers who happen to be two local women from the village. Ms Paswan herself comes from across the Delhi border from Haryana, doing “daily up-down on the Metro”. Having grown up in a family of many siblings, she acknowledges the steadfast support her “mamma-papa” have been giving to her since that long-ago fateful day when she started training as a beautician in a parlour close to her home. She later underwent further training in a more professional set-up, she says.
Offering congratulatory rasgullas to friends and visitors, Ms Paswan confesses being nervous, especially because of the ongoing pandemic. “These are uncertain times… what if there is a lockdown again? But one has to take risks.”
After posing for a portrait, she says that “Fourteen years ago, when I entered this line, I had a dream somewhere within me to run my own beauty parlour… Today, I dream that 14 years from now, I am running my own academy to train young girls into becoming talented beauticians.”
[This is the 470th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Her own boss