Delhi attracts a big part of the labor force of India. Every year, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers find their way to the national capital. The lucky few find decent jobs and affordable housing, while a huge number make do with the bare minimum in exchange for a basic wage.
These are some workers from UP and Bihar, who cook their meals outside the furniture store where they work. They use a can as a stove and have the basic utensils.
There are lakhs of such people in Delhi. They work and sleep in their employers’ shops and restaurants, sharing even these small spaces with three or four other workers. They make little money, which is usually needed back home. It’s a life of constant pressure with few moments of peace, but they make do with what they have.
Space is a luxury in Delhi and not everyone can afford it. These workers do not even consider a kitchen high on their list of priorities.
Men are now taking over the jobs of the urban poor young adults who’d find their way behind the counters of local stores. If you ask your local grocery store to deliver some items, you’ll probably hear the store-owner say, “Main ladke ko bhej deta hoon” only to see a much older person delivering the order.
Moving on to bigger and better things is a very remote dream for these people. Their goal is to hang on to the job as long as possible so they get used to being called ‘ladka‘ even if they have grand-kids; they get used to sleeping in small spaces that are often humid, damp or dirty. Most of them do it to earn just that basic wage, which will help their far-away families out.