Delhiwale: The Maharaja of IFFCO Chowk
His is standing at the metro station looking at the busy world go by. Once a doorman, the Sooraj Mal, sports large Maharaja-style moustache and shares intimate details of his life.delhi Updated: Jul 10, 2017 15:15 IST
His large moustache twirls royally, like the Air India mascot who enticed foreign travellers with his welcoming bow and courteous smile.
He is a hotel doorman. Correction, he was a doorman until a few months ago.
“I worked at an Indian restaurant,” says Sooraj Mal, “not any longer.”
We meet him in a corridor in IFFCO Chowk, a station on Delhi Metro’s yellow line.
People are hurriedly going about their business; some are rushing towards the platform, others are heading to the exit. A young woman is talking urgently on her mobile phone. Everybody seems to have an agenda for the day. Mr Mal, however, is standing still, watching the busy world go by.
“I had to leave the job because I fell ill… I returned to my village to recover… I came back today and went straight to the restaurant but saw another doorman…” The man with the formidable moustache felt too shy to enter his former workplace. He simply turned back and took a shared auto-rickshaw back to the Metro station.
Mr Mal’s father was a farmer in a village in Kotdwar, a town near the Himalayan foothills. “We had 13 bighas of land but it was divided among four brothers and my holding was too small.”
Mr Mal then, without prompting, starts to share intimate details about his family.
After a minute, he takes out his mobile phone and checks the time. “It is still not noon… I’ll go to a few restaurants… somebody might be looking for a doorman, you never know… tonight I might sleep in the bus stand.”
Although Mr Mal declares his intent to set out in search of a job, he is standing still. People around him are walking with determination, their eyes gleaming with purpose. Finally, we too start to walk towards the exit. Just as we are about to step on the escalators, we turn back to have a last view of the ex-doorman. He is still frozen at the same spot.