Syrian refugee, 32 (Delhi)
Fled the war-torn country this year and works as Arabic translator in hospitals
A few kilometres away from its DDA houses and across the subzi-mandi in South Delhi’s Sarita Vihar, a narrow lane lined with ‘Forex money exchange’ shops and vendors selling ‘green olives’ leads to a four-storey guest house. The 32-year-old can be often found on its terrace. Here, for the past four years, an “underground” Syrian restaurant has been turning out dishes from back home — syrup-soaked baklavas, pita bread and fresh hummus.
The 32-year-old first came to India from Homs, a city in western Syria, in 2011, when he enrolled for a Masters in English Literature at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi.
He is back here as a refugee — one among the six million Syrians on the run from civil war and Islamic State-unleashed violence. Homs was at the centre of that violence, declared by the rebels as their capital before they were chased out.
In 2013, the 32-year-old and his family — father an engineer, mother an Arabic teacher, and his three siblings — first left for Turkey as “we didn’t feel safe”. “We felt unsettled in Turkey and so decided to move to Europe, like the others,” he says. But when the rest of his family left for Sweden, he came to India — a country where he felt more “accepted”.
In August this year, he officially got “refugee status” from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Still, he no longer trusts strangers, and so refuses to be named or even meet face-to-face.
He stays in Jamia Nagar near Sarita Vihar, like he did during his student days, and makes about Rs 15,000-20,000 a month as an Arabic translator at city hospitals, he tells over the phone. Sometimes he takes private tuitions. Sarita Vihar has scores of guest-houses with people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, etc, some seeking asylum, others looking for affordable medical treatment. Read the full story at the