Life. Cycle.

For some it means green,

For some fitness,

For some a relic of a bygone era and for some it is LIFE…

A photo story on lifeCYCLE and the lives that cycle around it.

Frangipani, amaltash, rajnigandha, ashoka, palm, rubber and saplings of many more plants are usually stacked on the small pannier rack of his bicycle. Satish from Meethapur colony near Badarpur border cycles around 70–80 km every day in search of a garden that needs beautification. Picked up from the shabby by lanes of Meethapur, these plants finally find home (read garden) in some of the Delhi’s most posh localities like GK-1, Vasant Vihar, Jor Bagh, Golf Links etc. His labour allows him to buy happiness for his small family of four with a sum of over Rs 5,000 at the end of every month.
Photographer: Baya Agarwal
Donned in an orange cap and a sling bag, the trademark style of his trade, he proudly declares, ‘I do a dirty job, only to make you clean.’ Absolutely dexterous with his wax removal tool, Manoj from Shadipur is trusted by many for cleaning their ears. He pedals to various office areas and parks within the capital to find clients. He carries with him his toolbox containing – fresh (neatly wrapped) cotton rolls, oils and differently shaped and sized instruments which he deftly uses while at work. He usually spends about 15 minutes per client to earn a meager Rs 40 .
Photographer: Baya Agarwal
As he cycles across the length and breadth of Delhi, Ram Shagun’s eyes continue to look out for a construction site. Once found, he sifts through the waste disposed at these sites and then buys Kattas (empty cement sacs) from the site owner to sell these to the local cement factories. The 72 year old, grey-haired, lean-bodied Shagun, pedals over 60 km daily to buy and then sell these kattas. His daily earnings are less than half of the miles he pedals every day.
Photographer: Baya Agarwal
Cylinder, food, tabletop, stove, utensils, garden umbrella and himself all atop an old BSP cycle, welcome to ‘Jugaad’ – the mobile eatery of YB Singh. The famous parantha seller starts from his house in Sultanpur village and then hops from office to office and feeds most of the people working in and around Lodhi Estate. Even though there is a fixed menu of Chana-Kulcha/Parantha, the footfall to his Jugaad does not cease and that is what makes him ride more than 50 km to feed his loyal customers.
Photographer: Baya Agarwal
A mere mention of him adds a period flavor to the mind and forces one to romanticize the past. “I have seen the transition – from when people used to desperately wait for me to the time when my absence goes unnoticed,” shares Naresh Kumar, a postman in service for the last 28 years. He cycles for 16 km every day to deliver the post – not as eagerly awaited as in the past – in the areas allotted to him. Even though the burden of post weight has reduced from 40-50 kg to a mere 8-10 kg, Kumar continues to do his job, but with a much heavier heart.
Photographer: Baya Agarwal
As he started his career, twenty six-year-old Sonu was embarrassed about his profession of key making. “Most of the people relate this skill and the trade to robbery...” explains a concerned Sonu. He is now not just a key maker but a lock seller with key making skills. “There are many lock sellers but it is rare to find a lock seller who can make keys.” Sonu traverses through the city streets for hours at a stretch in search of people who either need locks or keys to unlock the locks they have.
Photographer: Baya Agarwal
He sits against a colorful backdrop of beautifully woven blinds, and a big placard with his contact details. He sits for an hour before embarking on another journey to another location to repeat the same. He does this tirelessly around six times a day in various areas. Ramji Lal is a chikmaker and pedals more than 50 km daily to capture the market by increasing his visibility. His clients are in places as far as Rajinder Nagar to Hauz Khas to Ashok Nagar to Moti Bagh and that is what keeps him going.
Photographer: Baya Agarwal
Resides in Ghadi, buys from Sadar Bazaar but sells in innumerable locations across Delhi. Meet Abdul Manzoor, 35 year old plastic ware seller, who wanders on the same roads at the same time every day in different localities. “Kuch majboori hai aur kuch haisiyat, cycle se jyaada soch nahin sakte.” There is not much margin for people like him anymore as there are retail shops which buy the same stuff in larger quantity, despite all this he cycles for over 60 km to ensure his life cycle goes on.
Photographer: Baya Agarwal
He comes, he calls out but no one replies and this has been continuing for the last many years. But for Saudan Singh this is the only way of life. “My wife makes all the namkeens, bhajiyas, khastas and they are very delicious,” explains a disappointed Singh, who rarely finds a customer these days. People prefer buying packed food from a shop over buying from a street vendor. The competition that the packaged products pose, has cost Singh a great deal, he wanders on the streets of central Delhi for hours but usually returns to his home in Paharganj with a mere thirty rupees in his potli.
Photographer: Baya Agarwal
Candy, cigarettes, chewing gum, paan etc. You name it and he has it. Dholak Yadav is proud of his cycle stall which has something for everyone. Though a resident of Srinivaspuri, Dholak Yadav is rarely found in his locality as he is busy exploring the city on his cycle during the day. He cycles along the metro line and ensure that he is always there on time to allow the commuters to unwind and grab a smoke or a paan from his humble yet dynamic cycle stall.
Photographer: Baya Agarwal
Pedalling for over 40 km every day, Arjun works when the office-goers take a break and decide to get their shoes polished. Well aware of the latest trends, he not only carries black and brown wax polish in his toolbox but also red, maroon and other unusual colors and that is what makes him a cobbler people queue up to go to.
Photographer: Baya Agarwal
Unlike most of the other food sellers on cycle, Gujroo Lal is very jovial. He welcomingly introduces every passerby to the sweet rasgullas he carries in his refrigerated box. He does not limit the expanse of his every day journey to any particular area, he goes to all possible places – residential colonies, offices and even markets and covers around 70 km on his cycle. Selling each rasgulla for two rupees, he explains, “There is not much I take home in terms of money but for people like me there aren’t too many choices in this life cycle.”
Photographer: Baya Agarwal

AUTHOR'S BIO: Baya is a silent observer. She loves to travel, meet new people, hear them out and make her own impressions of them. She romanticizes about all that is gone – past, not just her own but also of places and other people. At present, she is seeking clarity by sharing her thoughts out loud, silently…


    • Neha

      August 21, 2014, 5:27:19 pm

    • Interesting stories and so well captured.

    +1 Reply

      • Deepak Bansal

        August 31, 2014, 8:08:46 am

      • Hi baya amazing subjects and well worded graphic portray of emotions keep up the good job love you

    • Cynthia Chandran

      August 21, 2014, 11:53:00 pm

    • Excellent! Keep going!

    • P C Anto

      August 22, 2014, 7:03:12 am

    • Made me feel..infact life is “Cycle”. Extremely well captured.

    • Radha Beteille

      August 22, 2014, 9:53:39 am

    • I have only known Baya for a few months. But she is perhaps, one of the most fascinating persons, I have had the privilege of getting to know. She shares many of my interests, and I hope she continues of write these extraordinarily creative articles, so that people like me can learn a little bit more about the lives of others. Baya, what a pleasure it was to read this piece of yours!

    • Shikha

      August 22, 2014, 7:16:55 pm

    • Life on a cycle… A beautiful execution of thoughts.. Bravo

    • Rakesh Agarwal

      August 22, 2014, 10:31:47 pm

    • A wonderful way to depict the story of lively hood of number of individuals with one common tool of bicycle with a common goal to serve society at their doorstep .This is now being tried to be copied by flipcard to expand their business. I am very much impressed with the idea to write on such matters. Excellent communication.

    • Rakesh Agarwal

      August 23, 2014, 9:14:50 am

    • Wonderful concept, expression with beautiful photos. Stories touched my heart and felt proud to be father of such creative writer. I salute to your feeling which encouraged you to write on such professionals who serve society at their door step .Excellent communication

    • Anushri Sharma

      August 24, 2014, 2:19:45 pm

    • Such a beautifully written article, Baya. Though we do watch these Cycle-wallahs passing by every now and then, seldom we think about their daily cycles of life, that you have gently captured and beautiully described here. You have politely, yet strongly communicated the issue. Looking forward to hear more such stories from you :)

    • Anushri Sharma

      August 24, 2014, 2:20:30 pm

    • Such a beautifully written article, Baya. Though we do watch these Cycle-wallahs passing by every now and then, seldom we think about their daily cycles of life, that you have gently captured and beautifully described here. You have politely, yet strongly communicated the issue. Looking forward to hear more such stories from you :)

    • Kavita Oberoi Mahajan

      September 9, 2014, 10:38:00 pm

    • Intriguing. . Loved it. . I am not surprised it’s coming from you. . Every picture every article is simply you… beautiful. . Baya. . So proud to be associated with you.. :)

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