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Charan Bhaiya - Holistic Night Mess

I came to IIT at a very young age, when I was about 14. Many people from my village used to go to Delhi to find work, so there was a desire inside me too to go to Delhi. Thus the first time I came to Delhi was by running off from my school.

During my initial phase at Delhi, I used to sit around with people and help them out in something or the other and eventually managed to win their confidence. Finally, I found a job in a juice corner inside IIT Delhi’s campus. Interestingly the name of that juice corner too was “Holistics”. It was beside the Nalanda ground. I have always believed that trust is most important, and I always focus on gaining people's trust. My current boss trusts me immensely too. He owns various canteens, and the business and management of Holistics he has wholly entrusted to my care.

After the juice shop, I worked in canteens and did some other jobs intending to gather experience and knowledge from everywhere. Finally, I landed in the Jwalamukhi Night mess, where I worked for close to 16 years before it had to be closed during the lockdown. The person who owned that night mess was the same person who owns this current Holistics.

Having lived and worked amidst students from the start, I really cherish the experience. Working amidst kids gives me happiness. In fact, now I feel weird if I have to work somewhere outside schools and colleges, that is, among grown-ups. All these children are almost like my friends now, which makes working so much easier. Understanding their feelings, what they want to eat, and making the food akin to their taste gives me great joy. The kids open their hearts to me and tell me how they want particular things to be made. So I strive to make it as they like and really enjoy the process.

When the Jwala night mess was shut down, I returned to my native home in Nepal, which is 300-400 km from here. There I put my time and effort into organic farming, tending my cattle and setting up a poultry farm.

Then when the pandemic died down, the person who owned the Jwalamukhi night mess called me back, saying that they were opening a new mess in Aravali. So I left my village and came back here to IIT. On coming back, I helped to set up Holistics here. The Aravali night mess had also been closed during the pandemic, and Holistics was coming up in place of it. In the place where the Jwalamukhi night mess used to be, there is now a YULU stand.

Fortunately, Holistics has been a big hit, and many students flock here every day, and I am delighted. This place is actually better than Jwalamukhi, the location being more hygienic and spacious. The establishment at Jwalamukhi was a temporary one, made by erecting tin structures. Though it was also very popular and there was never a dearth of students there either.

" मै बच्चों के बीच ही रहा हूँ तो बच्चे बोहत like करते है मेरा खाना | बहुत सारे बच्चे पसंद करते है | कोइ नहीं भी करता होगा, अपने अपने जगह है | ऐसा तो कह नही सकता कि सभी करते होंगे | पर बच्चे ज़्यादातर अच्छा ही मानते है | कोई चीज़ बोल भी जाते है कि भइया ये चीज़ अच्छी नहीं हैं, इसको ठीक करो | सलाह भी देते है | और हम उनकी सलाह मानते भी है "

I have also worked outside IIT, but nowhere else do I get the kind of environment I get here. The students being an educated community, give me a lot of love and respect. This isn't always the case outside IIT. I have worked in a few markets and in Gurgaon too, but I don't get the same kind of respect there. People pick fights over small matters, and I don't feel good there. I can earn money there as well, but one doesn't look only for money in their job. If I am working hard, I want to be treated with the respect I deserve, and I feel that that respect is what I get at IIT, which makes working here unique and fun.

I have spent my whole life here at IIT and still enjoy each day and wish that whatever work I get to do, I do inside this campus. No one knows what will happen in the future. I am a man with a temporary kind of life, never thinking too much about the future. No one knew that Covid would happen, but it did, so I don't fret too much over the future. Whatever is destined to happen will happen. So, all in all, I am working, and all is going well. I don't care whether I am working for someone else, with someone, or if it is someone else’s work. I consider all work to be my own work when I am working. I am being paid justly for whatever I do and have been able to lead a decent life and provide for a family, and I am content. The only thing is that what will happen in the future is uncertain. “अब जीवन तो रोज़ कम ही होते जाएगा, बढ़ेगा तो नहीं ”. However, things are good now, much better than ever, which is satisfying enough for me.


Written by: Abhinava Anwesha Mohanty

Cover Photo by: Akshay V

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