Sunday, October 28, 2012

In Conversation with the ‘Aam Aadmi’

Virendra is a newspaper shop owner at Sarojini Nagar Market. I met him during one visit to the market, on 18th of October, 2012. While buying a magazine from his shop, we had a conversation. Here is the conversation for the readers.

Virendra, at his shop in Sarojani Nagar Market in Delhi

Nihal: How long you have been here?

Virendra: Some 20-25 years.

Nihal: 20-25 years in Sarojini Nagar market! How was this market earlier? You have seen this market for a very long time; you have seen this market grow…

Virendra: Yes. Bante rehti hai, bigadte rehti hai! This market grows on its own. Now there is much rush, which was not the case few years back. It is all because of NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Corporation).

Nihal: Why NDMC?

Virendra: They have created this huge parking space.

Nihal: Have you been selling newspapers all these years?

Virendra: Yes.

Nihal: Are newspapers like Rajasthan Patrika, Aaj ka Arjun, Employment News et cetera also in demand?

Virendra: Yes, definitely. But the market is ruled by Hindustan Times and Times Of India.

Nihal: And how much money you make by selling the newspapers and magazines?

Virendra: Enough to get my food.

Nihal: Did you ever think of doing something else than this?

Virendra: There was nothing else for me to do. I liked this always.

Nihal: Where are you from? Which part of the country?

Virendra: Karbala, in Delhi.  You know, I have many friends in newspapers. Especially in The Hindu.

Nihal: What do you have to say about the big shops in Sarojini nagar market? Why is Sarojini Nagar market known: for the big shops or the street shops?

Virendra: The small shops on the street. They are more prominent than the big shops. And because of the small shops, the sale of the big shops has been hampered. People can buy cheap products on the street, so why to go to the big shops? People can also bargain outside, but that does not happen in the big shops. The small shopkeepers want to sell as much goods as possible with minimal profit margin. But the bigger shopkeepers want to make profit by selling only one good.

Nihal: This is a very busy market. Which is the busiest time here?

Virendra: After 2 PM.

Nihal: And you sell most newspapers during that time or some other time?

Virendra: There is no favourable time to sell newspaper. Nikalta hi rehta hai.

Nihal: Bhaiya, this market is not known for newspapers as such. So what has been your experience as a newspaper vendor in a readymade garment market?

Virendra: There was no specific reason. But people come here regularly. And everybody wants to read news. So this shop is relevant to them and also to the other shopkeepers here. People come to buy clothes, but when they see newspapers they buy it.

Nihal: What about the newspapers you are not able to sell?

Virendra: We return them. We do not need to pay for them. The same goes for the magazines.

Nihal: Which newspaper do you read yourself?

Virendra: Hindi.

Nihal: Which one in Hindi?

Virendra: Dainik Jagaran or Navbharat Times. Dainik Jagaran is the best. There is a bigger market for Hindi newspapers. Very few people read English newspapers. If you ever want to reach us, publish it in a Hindi newspaper.
I am reading Times of India now. It is written that 25 homes will be demolished for the construction of Sarojini Nagar metro. The people will be relocated although. See, it is written here (shows me the article).

Nihal: Do you also follow politics?

Virendra: Very less. No interest.

Nihal: You sell newspapers and you do not like politics, how is that possible?

Virendra: Apni apni interest.

Nihal: Which political party you support?

Virendra: BJP. This time BJP is coming back. Congress is not going to be in power anymore.

Nihal: BJP has a good support everywhere. Then why does the Congress win elections every time?

Virendra: Congress gives money to the poor people, those who live in the Jhuggi- Jhopdi (Slum areas).

Nihal: What do you think about Arvind Kejriwal?

Virendra: He is new. I cannot say anything about him now. Time will tell us. I liked Anna Hazare although.

Nihal: What else can you share about this market?

Virendra: When blast took place in Sarojini Nagar market, I was also here. Some 40-50 people died that time. 2-3 people disappeared. The blast was so strong that their bodies disappeared. Nobody was able to bring together the different parts of their bodies. Within 15 minutes the entire market was shut down. People ran away to save their life.

Nihal: Did they close the shops or run away without even bothering to lock the shops?

Virendra: They locked the shops. Now Diwali is approaching. Something will happen that time for sure. Maximum we can do is taking care of ourselves and follow safety measures. Just after the bomb blast in the market, the very next day, a new bike was parked here without number plate. The CRPF people were here. But nobody noticed. I realised it and mentioned that to the police. The SHO came and took away the bike. Few hours later a couple came and asked for the bike .I told them that police has taken it. That time it was a lady SHO.

Nihal: Do you find any difference between male and female SHO?

Virendra: Male SHOs are normally very smart and attentive. But lady police officers have a very casual approach. But when Kiran Bedi was in police, whenever she came to this market, everybody got scared. We named her “Crane Bedi” instead of Kiran Bedi.

Nihal: Why?

Virendra: Kiran and Crane sound same!

He had other important work to do. So we called it a day!

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