Premraj Das is a 40-year-old man from New Delhi, India, who works at a rather unlikely place.
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His “office” also serves as his home for the last three years. That means he prepares his meals, eats, and sleeps inside the same kip. If you think it’s a room with glass doors, air-conditioned, and has some fancy tables and chairs, you’re mistaken, because Das lives in the same place where you answer nature’s call—the toilet.
You’re probably one of those people who are used to working in an air-conditioned office, and sometimes, just because the air conditioner is not working, you’d already conclude that you’re having a bad day.
But Das, who moved to the capital in hopes of making his life better, does not complain. He works as a toilet security guard with $101 salary a month. As a father of three, he sends his salary to support his family back home.
The authorities hired him to guard the toilet against thefts as well as to keep it clean. Das said that living inside the toilet is not uncomfortable as he’s used to it now. His only regret is when it’s time to shut the lavatories off at 9:00 p.m., leaving him with a lonely night ahead.
“I feel sad only when I close the toilet at 9:00 p.m. in the evening and I am all alone for the entire night and I don’t get to speak to anyone,” he said. “I like my job because I get to meet up to 400 people daily. People love me, be it the policemen or the lawyers. And that is why I have been able to survive here for the past three years.”
Das hails from the northeast India and just regularly sends money to his family there. He previously worked as a laborer in Punjab and at a local market in Allahabad and has also worked as a farmer in his home town. But more than three years ago, he moved to Delhi in search of a better life for himself and his family.
Despite the stigma attached to working in toilets, Das feels no shame in what he does. He said he loves meeting new people every day.
Das said, “This is a dirty job, but it’s regular and fetches me a monthly income. I wouldn’t get a permanent job anywhere else that pays this much. My family knows that I have to work to earn a living for them and me. I have kids who are still too young to understand what their father does. I am going to work here for as long as I can because I don’t have many options. Everyone dreams of a luxurious life, but how many can afford it?”
Once the toilet closes for the day, it’s a signal for Das to start his nightly routine. He cleans up the place, cooks his meal, and goes to sleep. Even though he has to sleep in a room that most people consider filthy, Das calls himself lucky that he has a decent space to lie on and a roof to cover him at night.
“I earn 6000 rupees and the rent of a single room is 3000 rupees, which I can’t even think of in my dreams. Hence, I clean this place and sleep here,” he said.
Das added, “This job means that I get to meet new people every day and talk to them, hence I never feel disgusted by this job of mine.”