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Confronting, fighting and surviving odds.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He has no job, no laptop. His resume shows no fancy school, no fancy college. Meet 30-year-old Mr. Rohit Malik, owner of delhievents.com, one of Delhi's most popular websites.
Newspaper supplements depend on it to beef up their weekend listings. Author William Dalrymple calls it "a terrific website". Theatre director Sayeed Alam thinks that it "is one of the best things to have happened to Delhi in the recent past". With such a sunny outlook, you might imagine Mr. Malik to be the toast of the town, busy milking the cash cow out of India's Internet revolution, working hard and playing harder. The reality is different.
Mr. Malik's life is about working hard and working harder.
The alarm wakes Mr. Malik daily at 5 am in his Indira Nagar home in north Delhi. He then logs on to his assembled computer, purchased from Wazirpur computer market, updates the listings on his home page, reads "4-5 newspapers", returns to the computer, uploads a few more event details, starts tapping on the mobile phone, calls artists and organisations for information on events, e-mails others, goes back to the website and uploads, updates more stuff.
Outings usually mean evenings in the India Habitat Centre – on days when he has noticed that it's already evening. And being self-employed means no off days. "I work seven days a week," Mr. Malik told The Delhi Walla the other day. Obviously, he can't report sick to himself.
Mr. Malik had started delhievents.com in early 2006 and got his first earning three months later – a sum of about $3, courtesy Google ads. Till now, he has made around $1,500. Even when translated into rupees, that doesn't come to a lot of zeroes.
His parents are not happy about their son's unconventional way of making a living. "They see other people's children in good jobs and then they see me still struggling, still trying to make decent money," Mr. Malik says. "They also don't know much about the Internet, so they sort of distrust my work." The lack of revenue was taking its toll: a few weeks ago, Mr. Malik decided to shut down the website. However, with the promise of some more advertising, he kept it afloat.
"I've always done my own thing," he says. "delhievents.com will stay." What keeps him going? "There's no money right now but this site is creatively satisfying, it puts me right in the thick of Delhi's cultural life and, yes, I soon hope to start making a profit."
Mr. Malik's determination has returned after the temporary gloom. Or so it seems to The Delhi Walla.