Nothing new in New Year for Delhi-NCR homeless

New Delhi, Jan 1: While many lit bonfires and partied to usher in the New Year, 60-year old Jamuna tried to keep herself warm and hoped to get some sleep on the last night of 2013, as the temperature in the national capital dipped to four degrees Celsius.

“I have welcomed many New Years here on the pavement. This one will be no different,” Jamuna, who lives on the pavement in Mayur Vihar in east Delhi, told IANS.

“What will a beggar like me, who earns around Rs.50 a day, do, anyway? I hope someone would come along and donate a few things,” she says, carrying a pail of water to cook her meal.

Like Jamuna, many others who call the streets of the national capital and its vicinity their home say the New Year will not be any different from years gone by. As the cold gets even more bitter, living on the streets gets harder, they say.

“The last day of the year comes with no relief, and just chill and fog. We sleep under the sky, and the chilly winds haunt us,” says Prem Deen, who lives near the Vaishali Metro station in Ghaziabad, neighbouring Delhi.

Prem Deen, 45, sifts through garbage and sells what he can salvage to scrap dealers. “With the weather becoming harsher by the day, every night I pray I don’t fall ill,” he says.

Kajor, 35, who moved to Delhi from Rajasthan two months back, agrees. “In this cold, I will not be doing anything special. I will just try to keep myself warm and prepare for the next day,” he said. Kajor sells toys for a living at a traffic signal in Dwarka in southwest Delhi.

“Had it not been so cold, I might got some work done and earned a little extra. A lot of cars are on the streets today, so I might have earned,” he told IANS, wrapping himself up in a shawl.

However, undeterred by the biting cold, 53-year-old Nawab Ahmad had a little celebration with his family.

“I have been saving money for quite some time now. My children wanted to eat something nice. Every day we either eat potato or moong daal. Today, I bought some meat for dinner, so we can celebrate,” he said.

Ahmad, his wife, two sons and a daughter live on a pavement in Nizamuddin.

Expecting to get some sweets from others who were out celebrating, Bunty, 13, joined the revelry at night at Sector 18, Noida.

“Every year, people get out at night singing and dancing with their friends at this time. We too join these celebrations, but with our own gang, separately. It is good fun, and sometimes we get lucky too,” Bunty said.

“Drunk men who are happy share some food with us, or give us some money. At times, couples too give out chocolates or sweets,” said Bunty, whose home is a pavement in Sec 4, Noida.

IANS