That is the address of Raju, homeless and without a job in Delhi. With a recent UN report naming the Capital the second most populous city in the world after Tokyo, Naveed Iqbal and Aditi Vatsa meet some of its newest residents all looking for a new life
From Firozabad, UP
Without a job
He came to Delhi from Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh, in search of work — cooking, driving, household help… anything. “Maine socha tha, ye desh ki rajdhani hai, yahan kaam milna mushkil nahin hona chahiye (I had thought this is the nation’s capital, it shouldn’t be difficult finding work here),” says Raju, 42.
A month later, he is staying with at least 40 other people in a shelter under a flyover near Nigambodh Ghat in north Delhi, without even the money to catch a train and go back. “Many people from my village had come here to work, so I decided to come here too, but right now, I don’t know what to do,” he says.
Though he belongs to the city of bangles, as Firozabad is often called, Raju never took up a job in the sector. “I didn’t like that work, so I never did it. My brother and sister work for bangle makers.” Instead, he worked at a dhaba and learnt how to drive. But without a driver’s licence, he can’t drive in Delhi and he has no other proof of identity either.
Around 4 pm, he sits on the steps of the shelter’s portacabin, waiting for contractors to come and pick him up for some work. He is just back from ‘labour chowk’ in Chandni Chowk where hundreds of migrant labourers like him line the streets early in the morning for jobs.. It looks like he is in for another disappointing day.
His only contact with his family in Firozabad is the occasional phone call. “They tell me I should come back if I don’t find work. How can I when I don’t even have money for the train ticket?”
The night shelter only offers a roof, but Raju is grateful for that. “The day I don’t earn I don’t eat, but at least I don’t have to sleep on the streets.” And he is staying for now. “I lived in my village for 42 years, but my life did not change. I came hoping Delhi will make my life better. I don’t know if that will happen but I am determined to stay here.”
ANURADHA KUMARI, 22
From Darbhanga , Bihar
Runs a multi-purpose photocopy shop
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