It is one of six apartments that she cleans every day. She mops floors, scrubs bathroom tiles, takes out the garbage and sweeps and wipes the apartment stairs. People are silhouetted against the setting sun at a park in New Delhi March 10, She meets her boyfriend on Saturdays.
Where do they go? What do they do? A movie date with snacks can cost somewhere around 2, rupees to an upper-middle class couple. For poor people, going on a date requires setting different expectations. She lives in one-room flat in the Jhuggi Jhopri colony — a settlement developed by the city government near the easternmost edge of Delhi for poor people as an alternative to illegal slums. When she and her boyfriend meet, they talk about their lives and walk around the park, or eat aloo-chaat or golgappas at a roadside stall.
Mostly, the boyfriend, who works as a helper at a general-provision store, pays the bill. Then there is the story of Surender and Preeti. That was what we termed as a date. It cost me 60 rupees. A couple walks in front of the historic Red Fort amid dense fog on a cold winter morning in the old quarters of Delhi January 3, Though we used to stare at each other daily, I had to wait for another nine years before I could gather the courage to talk to her.
I thought she was too beautiful to be with someone like me. Twelve years after they started dating, they married. Hindu clans prohibit marriage within the descendants of an unbroken male line. The couple used to meet each other however they could — by bus, auto rickshaw and on foot. We never went to malls as everything there was out of my budget.
Tucked in the corners or behind the bushes are couples from different parts of the city; kissing or cozying up to each other under a shawl or a bedsheet. In the background in some parks are old Muslim tombs and gumbads domes , trees and flower gardens, some stray dogs, children at play, old people taking their daily walks alongside tourists, and picnicking families.
But even poor lovers face a tough crowd. How much a person can wait is ultimately the sign of their interest. They refrain from buying overpriced snacks at the concession stands. Every once in a while, these stories end up in suicides.