Delhiwale: The bird man of Shahdara
Not many are in the trade of selling chicks anymore, even fewer do it the way young Raj Kumar does in Shahdaradelhi Updated: Sep 19, 2017 11:52 IST
Sometime between 10 and 11 almost any morning, you’re likely to spot Raj Kumar striding through Shahdara with an unusual cargo — chicks chirping in a basket atop his youthful head.
He doesn’t sell his wares at one spot. We manage to track him down near the metro station where excited children are examining the chicks that are sold at three for Rs 100.
“I’m not into bargaining,” says Mr Kumar. “These are real ajooba chicks from Kolkata.”
We ask the natural question. Just what would customers do with these birds? Mr Kumar smiles. He removes a chick from the basket, palms it, and explains: “You can play with her!”
Two ladies turn up, sorting through the birds one by one. What they’ll probably do, Mr Kumar tells us later, is rear them as pets.
The trade practised by Mr Kumar, barely out of his teens, is rare nowadays. Once upon a time, that wasn’t the case at all.
You could buy chicks most anywhere in Delhi. Vendors, who still do it, usually tie the birds to their cycles, instead of carrying the load on their head— Mr Kumar’s way of connecting to an ancient calling.