Photography, Proses

Chandni Chowk

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A flock of birds filled the Sunday morning sky for a brief moment. The next moment, they weren’t there.

The littered footpath had sprawled bodies on it, blending into nothingness.. yet so intriguing in their impact. What moved me the most, were two children, siblings probably, who were fast asleep, as good as dead, on a piece of cardboard on the dividing pavement of the main road. The swishing vehicles and loud horns wouldn’t make them stir. They were in some divine kind of state.. as if saying ..

” Whether the roaring buses blow their alarming horns..

or the blading cycles and rickshaws swish by..
If a constable asks us to move.. We are in no worry.. All we have to move is the cardboard and ourselves..

Curse us for our refuge..
We are not listening.. for we sleep divinely.. In another world..
We are brothers in the sun.. Brothers of the Earth.. Brothers by blood and sweat..
And the children of God.”

They were soon joined by a third musketeer, who appeared to have got them their morning cuppa tea and a glucose biscuit. They shared it with unparalleled contentment, with half sleepy eyes and a priceless grin. I looked away for an instance, to notice a group of bustling children behind me, and when I looked back to find them the next moment, they weren’t there.

On the other side of the road, was an opening to a hoch poch street with a charm of its own. Rickshaws lay on the street, some, loaded with their sleepy owners. The others looked like they were sleeping themselves. There were kirana stores, supari stands, and in some places, shops veiled with shutters. Dogs roamed about, looking for their daily left over of bread. Beggars sat to share a smoke. While, as I stepped into another street the next moment, they weren’t there.

Then came a few hand pumps, with some men bathing around them, some, beating their lathered clothes. There were ladies with sacks of fruits and vegetables and weighing scales, doing their morning business in full swing. There was an elderly¬†miyaan, sitting in his own daze, with his newspaper galore open for sale. His white attire and white cap gave another kind of light to that narrow, dusty street. I saw plenty of darkness in the alleyways that I crossed, but after seeing him the next moment, the darkness wasn’t there.

After a few steps, whiffs of sweets and savories filled the air. There were tea stalls with blazing fires under the kettles, jars of savories and scrumptious jalebis stacked up one on top of the other, with the juicy sugar syrup trickling through their glistening stacks. A young boy stared at them from a distance, with not enough clothes to cover his entire body. Feeding him would give me satisfaction of a different kind. But before the thought could get me moving, in the next instant, he wasn’t there.

As I finished clicking my pictures, I headed back to go home. On my way back from Delhi 6, these images flashed in my mind. The flock of birds, the sleeping children, the beggars, the rickshaw pullers, the miyaan, the intriguing streets, the painful state of people, and yet the joyous grins on their faces, and most of all, the small ‘distant’ child, who I had thought of treating by buying him some jalebis. This side of the city had changed my outlook to things, just in one visit. The hoch poch layout of Chandni Chowk, and the sheer contentment on the inconvenienced people who I came across was indeed moving. And now, I sat in a Scoda, to go back to my cosmopolitan life, whereas, a few moments back, I was in the silver market, the historical Chandni Chowk, where everyone moved constantly inspite of sitting still.

I was there that morning, and before anyone could much acknowledge my presence, I wasn’t there.

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