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Ayodha Prasad Verma puts styling gel in the hair of youngest child Kuldeep, 6, at their home in Delhi before taking his three children to school. He gets up at 5 a.m. every morning. (Charla Jones for The Globe and Mail)
Ayodha Prasad Verma puts styling gel in the hair of youngest child Kuldeep, 6, at their home in Delhi before taking his three children to school. He gets up at 5 a.m. every morning. (Charla Jones for The Globe and Mail)

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A day in the life: New Delhi Add to ...

Ayodha Prasad Verma, New Delhi: "I don't give too much preference to leisure."

91 hours of work, $88 a week

The life: The 40-year-old lives with his wife and children - two sons, 6 and 13, and an 11-year-old daughter - in New Delhi. He also owns a small farm about 670 southeast of the city, near his hometown of Pratapgarh.

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The work: His own flower business, a small kiosk that stays open seven days a week.

The pay: On a good month, he can earn the equivalent of $350 Canadian, which gets him a one-room apartment, a TV, school fees for his children and makes him part of a rising middle class.

The grind: Many days, Mr. Verma wakes at 5 a.m. to wash the family's clothes, neatly pressing his shirts and his kids' school uniforms. He then commutes to work on his scooter, a journey that can require up to two hours every morning as he drops his children at school and visits a flower wholesaler. His first business of the morning is buying stock; after haggling with his old acquaintances at the market, he wraps bundles of flowers in tarps and carries them by scooter to his roadside stand. His young assistant has already opened the kiosk when he arrives, at 9 a.m.

After laying out his wares, the rest of his day involves waiting on customers. Cars pull up at the curb and housewives jump from back seats, buying bouquets so quickly that traffic hardly slows. He closes shop at 10 p.m., and sometimes pauses on the way home to buy groceries.

The down time: He never has time for breakfast, sometimes just a cup of tea, but every day around noon he orders a hearty lunch from a nearby hotel. After eating, he takes a nap on the trimmed grass in a nearby park. His dinner comes from other kiosks, and his wife usually has a hot snack waiting for him at home. He does not exercise and rarely gets time to himself, but he also works only two-thirds of the year. His business is shared, so every two months, he must hand the reins to a cousin and take a month off, often visiting his mother in their village.

The work-life balance: "I'm happy with my work, happy with my life. … I've seen hard times, and I don't want my children to feel such hardship. I came from a village and went to a small school, but I worked hard and now my children are going to a better school."

Compared to Canada: Mr. Verma seems confused when informed that Canadians feel scheduling pressure in their lives. He pauses when asked for advice about work-life balance. "You can't get too distracted by leisure," he says, finally. "Whatever I do, I do with honesty. I don't give too much preference to leisure."

What he'd change: "I would not change anything, except the time off. I feel bad when I can't work."

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