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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Delhiwale: A flâneur’s portrait

All alone in the world, Mr Das speaks in a very literary sort of Hindi you rarely hear outside the Hindi literature lecture halls.

delhi Updated: Jul 30, 2019 13:45 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ramji  Das says he left his parents in UP long ago and now lives in a hut in Faridabad, near Delhi.
Ramji Das says he left his parents in UP long ago and now lives in a hut in Faridabad, near Delhi. (HT Photo )
         

Ramji Das is trying to tie a knot around a metal rod with a raggedy fabric. This rod he’ll wield to ward off street dogs. “That’s all I need to deal with them,” he explains in his shrill raspy voice. “I don’t need any person for company.”

All alone in the world, Mr Das speaks in a very literary sort of Hindi you rarely hear outside the Hindi literature lecture halls. But, he says he’s never gone to any college. “I left my parents in UP long, long ago when I was very young.”

He pauses for a second, then says he never married. “So, I’m by myself. Nobody with me. No relatives, no friends.” His principal possession amounts to a cloth bag.

He lives in a “kuti” (hut) in the town of Faridabad near Delhi, often taking the train into the capital to witness “the sort of sukh (happiness) and dukh (sadness) that keeps the world busy.”

The knot is finally secured to the metal rod that he had chanced upon only minutes ago. “I picked it from the pavement,” he says, explaining, “You get all sorts of useful things on the road if only you have time to look for them.”

He continues his walk down the street, knowing that this new weapon will protect him.

“Now, dogs can’t harm me,” he mutters. “And anyways I have nobody but God. Who will protect me as He has so far.”

First Published: Jul 30, 2019 13:45 IST

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