Mission Delhi - Akram Ansari, Ghaffar Manzil

Mission Delhi – Akram Ansari, Ghaffar Manzil

Mission Delhi - Akram Ansari, Ghaffar Manzil

One of the one percent in 13 million.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

It is evening. He is lying flat on the floor, upon a mattress, at his Ghaffar Manzil pad, close to Jamia Millia Islamia University.

Akram Ansari turned 24 today. Staring up at the ceiling, he is mulling over life, especially his college life. The Lucknow walla arrived in Delhi in 2019 as a law student in Jamia. Here he encountered some completely novel experiences of academia civilisation, and not all were nice—-such as flunking in four papers during a semester exam. It was traumatic, something like this had never happened to him before, he couldn’t bring himself to tell it to parents back home.

“Yes, there have been nice times as well as bad times… both have contributed to my sense of belonging to this city,” he remarks solemnly.

Whatever, living far from the family, the footloose Akram started roving through Delhi, sometimes bicycling as far as India Gate. These frequent excursions slowly helped him find his passion, which is seeking the ordinary. “I realised that I like to follow things that are not famous.”

Unlike many of us, Akram doesn’t exhaust himself with Lodhi Garden monuments or Old Delhi kebabs. He is more intrigued by empty streets, blank-faced buildings, and neighbourhood shops stocked with double roti and Amul butter. “What if one day I leave Delhi and come back to it after many years, will these unremarkable places still be the way they are, or will they have changed drastically… will they be existing at all?”

Anyhow, by exploring Delhi’s mundane aspects, Akram feels he is uncovering for himself a way to see things, “and through that I’m also learning to see within my own self.” This kind of touring-and-seeing has no agenda, nothing at all to do with the career. (Akram is preparing for the “judicial service exam,” aiming to be a judge.) Even so, he hopes that he never let go of his pursuit of the ordinary.

Meanwhile, the day is drawing to a close. Akram spent the first half giving his health law exam (eighth semester, fourth year, BA LLB) in the university’s Faculty of Law. Followed by chai at Prem Bhaiya’s Hygienic Café. Followed by afternoon Zuhr prayer at SRK Masjid. Followed by a solitary “veg. thali” lunch at Castro Café. Followed by a two-hour-long nap, here in the pad. Almost like a miracle, this special day for the birthday boy has ended up being a perfect ode to what he cherishes the most–the ordinary.

[This is the 580th portrait of Mission Delhi project]