Mission Delhi – Pavel, Connaught Place
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He has the casual accessories of a foreign backpacker from backpackers’ Paharganj, but is manning a pavement stall of photos in Connaught Place, this evening. He is pestered for a tell-all.
Who are you?
I’m a traveller—Pavel, from Russia. I sell photos. Clicked these in my many journeys. During my first trip to Asia, in 2016, when money was over, in Laos, and I wanted to continue travelling, I started selling these photos on the streets. Some Delhi people give me 10 rupees for one, some 100 or more. Sometimes I give a photo for free if a person has no money.
How is the city treating you?
Been here for a while. Sometimes I sleep in a hostelry near the railway station. Sometimes I spend the night at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib—there is a hall for people to sleep on the bed for 200 rupees, or one can sleep outside on the floor for free. During the day, I walk around. In the evening, I sell photos, frequently changing the stall’s location. I’ll celebrate the new year’s eve in Gurgaon with some Hare Krishna Russian friends who live there.
How did you become a traveller?
I’m from a city called Bryansk. At 23, I left to work in Moscow as a courier delivery man for a bank. Traveling began two years later. I’m now 32, been to 28 countries, and have worked in a farm in South Korea, acted in films in Malaysia, helped in the making of a documentary on recycling waste in West Bengal. I mostly travel by hitchhiking, and turn to cheapest flights for crossing international borders. Have some money from savings and from odd jobs in random places, but not enough. That’s why I am selling my photos for a trip to South East Asia.
How is your hometown like?
Bryansk is full of factory workers. I was there for a week in September. It is near Ukraine. People are tense about the military conflict. I hope it ends soon! We have lots of forests, lakes and rivers. In summer, folks swim in rivers; autumn is a calm time, my parents collect mushrooms in the forests; in winter, people skate, make snowmen, some swim in the cold rivers; in spring, grass begins to grow, mood lifts up.
Where did you have lunch today?
I often eat at the (free) langar in Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. The food is tasty and holy. It is usually rice, dal and chapati; at times they serve something extra—vegetables, chai, milk with nuts, etc. When you eat with hundreds of people, you feel a lot of positive energy, like in a big happy family. Indeed, if you open yourself to the world, then the world opens itself to you.
[This is the 521st portrait of Mission Delhi project]