Friday, May 01, 2009

City Life – The Fruit Seller of Daryaganj

The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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The Fruit seller of Daryaganj

Living it honestly.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Farhan Akhtar is a handsome young man who would not look out of place shaking hips with scantily clad girls in Bollywood blockbusters. But for now our hero is selling fruits at a stall in Daryaganj's Sir Sayyed Ahmed street. And for someone who never misses his namaaz and has Aital Kursi as his mobile phone call tune, it must be a God-gift to live this kind of honest, hardworking existence.

Each night Mr Akhtar hires an auto to Azadpur sabzi mandi, Asia's largest wholesale vegetable market. It is in north Delhi, an hour away from Daryaganj if there is smooth traffic. There Mr Akhtar purchases fruits that come daily from all over India, and the world. The choosing, picking and buying of different varieties of apples, mangoes, pomegranates, melons, grapes, pineapples is a long, exhaustive business and Mr Akhtar manages to return only as the dawn starts breaking behind the Red Fort's ramparts.

However, Mr Akhtar's 'day' is still not over yet. He has to hand over the fruits to the stall owner, run by a polite old mullah, and then only he goes home to sleep. A few hours of bed rest there and then Mr Akhtar hops back to the stall to claim a commission on the fruits sold till that hour. This hectic pace enables Mr Akhtar to make a daily earning of Rs 200, sometimes even more, sometimes also less.

The amount, admittedly, is not much and Mr Akhtar is forced to share a small room with three other people in Pataudi House, a once-upon-a-time-grand mansion in Daryaganj. He tries saving as much as is possible for there are responsibilities. Money has to be sent monthly to parents in Lucknow who have no other source of income. When I asked Mr Akhtar if he has a girlfriend, he replied, "Rather than wasting money on girls, I'll better like to earn my maa-baap's blessings."

While Mr Akhtar dabbles in pricey apples imported from lands as far as China (Rs 120/kg) and Washington (Rs 110/kg), he himself is very budget conscious about what he eats. True, he likes meat but mostly he patronizes an inexpensive vegetarian eatery called Shankar Dhaba in Kuchal Paramal. It is good there - one plate of Shahi Paneer comes for as low as Rs 10.

However, these cost-cutting measures coupled with a deep sense of duty towards old parents doesn't mean that Mr Akhtar knows no fun. He hangs out in Connaught Place, watches films in a friend's DVD player, sing Bollywood numbers, guzzles down bottles of Coke at one go and yes, he loves Kashmiri apples (Rs 70/kg). The Delhi Walla wishes him a happy life.

With their goods

The Fruit seller of Daryaganj

No fruit juice for Mr Mullah

The Fruit seller of Daryaganj

Back to apples

The Fruit seller of Daryaganj

Business hour

The Fruit Seller of Daryaganj

18 comments:

Rima Kaur said...

mullah drinking coke is priceless!

Anonymous said...

he is awfully goodlooking, this big-eared fruit-wallah of yours!

Anonymous said...

Are you gay Mayank? When will you start interviewing girls or you fail to find extraordinary girls in Delhi?

Anonymous said...

Is there a reason you chose this handsome young man as your subject, Mayank?

P

Pesto Sauce said...

Been here first time....but must say you captured Delhi in all its essence

BRUISED INDIAN said...

You wannabe Muslim its not Aital its 'Aya'at Al Qursi'.

@ Rima Kaur: A Mullah drinking Coke shouldnt be alamrming.
If you think just cause you can read "Coca Cola" in front of a mirror and contour it a bit to make it read "La Allah" (No Allah -in Arabic)is just a piece of perverse imagination and thinking; Considering one of Asia's largest bottleing plant for Coca Cola is in Riyadh - Saudi Arabia!!

Lucie said...

Just discovered your blog - I have to say I love the pictures! And curiously, it even seems you know some of the same people I know. Small world.

Anonymous said...

Mayank ...Gay...Hilariou!!!

Rima Kaur said...

bruised indian - i said its priceless; i didnt say its funny or impossible or against islam. i would have found it priceless even if there was an akali wearing a towering turban in his place. its interesting for me to see something so traditional intermingled with something so new. whats the harm in it? i dont know why every comment, book, photo, thought out there is considered anti-islam. i say something as simple as "mullah drinking coke is priceless", and hell breaks loose. accha hoga mayank that i stop commenting on your blog and keep myself content by just reading it.

Rima Kaur said...

bruised indian - "if you think just cause you can read "Coca Cola" in front of a mirror and contour it a bit to make it read "La Allah" (No Allah -in Arabic)is just a piece of perverse imagination and thinking..."

the demons are in your mind, my friend. i did not even know about these subliminal messages.

Rima Kaur said...

sorry i didnt mean akali. i meant nihang.

Putra Bertam Malaysia said...

I really love Indian Manggoes specially from Salem disrict Tamilnadu. Nice pic.

Anonymous said...

Some would pronounce it Aayat-ul-Qursi

It is an Ayat or para of the holy Quran which is invoked to ward off danger, bad demons, bad times etc.
Moms & grannies often recite it so that the children stay out of danger.

bawa said...

I am amused by some people's idea of "Modern"...my dad in his youth in the 50s would be drinking the stuff all over india..

BRUISED INDIAN said...

@ Rima;
No wonder you first initiated the "Mullah With Coke - Priceless" cliche!

a n k | t said...

Wonderful article, I'm sure God has a plan for our hero Farhan Akhtar

Vishal said...

@ Rima

Koi gal nahi soniyo........... not all religion are as tolerant as Native-Indian-born religions, hence their followers might be less tolerant, more aggressive, esily offended

Vishal said...

Hey Mayank, I agree with Anon........ rarely see a chikni Kuri in ur blogs........

Aur koi nahi toh apni Rima pe blog kar do yaar (Rima, please take in the right spirit, in a jest )....lol