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The city you never see: A print media loyalist

Now in his 90s, shopkeeper Babu Ram is seen just about every evening poring over a newspaper while his son bustles about serving customers in the Central Delhi market.

more lifestyle Updated: Mar 28, 2019 13:32 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times, Delhi
Babu Ram,print media loyalist,Delhi people
Babu Ram is spotted in this posture just about every evening poring over a newspaper while his son bustles about serving customers in the Central Delhi market.

See, a man holding the newspaper, his face immobile, his hands deathly still.

This can be a museum figure celebrating the great days of the print media. But suddenly the hands move and the stiff page is turned with a crackling sound.

Now in his 90s, shopkeeper Babu Ram is spotted in this posture just about every evening poring over a newspaper while his son bustles about serving customers in the Central Delhi market.

“I never read the paper in the morning,” he explains, “because I borrow it from the neighbouring shop.” Which means that he never needs to shell out a few coins to catch up on today’s happenings, out there in the wide world.

The habit of reading the newspaper goes back decades, but with one difference. Nowadays Mr Ram is apt to fling the paper aside if he stumbles upon an upsetting story. “Whatever else I want, I certainly don’t want any tension in my life.”

Now he wants to share a secret—revealing his real reason for reading the newspaper nearly every day without fail. Mr Ram says he’s arrived at the age when he just doesn’t overtly care about the state of the world and its people.

“No…I read to keep my memory and mind active. Otherwise this old brain will start forgetting things!”

He picks up the newspaper once again, focusing on a particular page, while his son Hari Kishen doles out one kg cheeni to a customer. The immediate world out there on the street passes by, without him paying it any glance.

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First Published: Mar 28, 2019 13:31 IST