Saturday, April 28, 2007

Multiple Pleasures

Bookshop scene is rapidly changing in Delhi. Now you no longer enter into a bookstore to just browse the books. You sit there and drink down coffee with the Chicken Tikka sandwich. But even that is not enough. So you also buy music albums of pop stars like Himesh Reshammiya* and Shakira. Obviously, buying the book is co-incidental!

*Seen in the picture taken in a Connaught Place bookshop.

The Melting Nose

The little prankster just ran out from his school*. It is a hot afternoon and he wants his Kulfi. So what if his nosy is dripping down to his lips? So what if Mummy will be angry? He wants his pleasure and now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


This Delhi gentleman is elegant - grey hair, formal shirt, a matching trouser and a princely way of urinating (right arm delicately positioned on the hip). The humble boundary wall has reasons to feel honored.

The Toxic Chaat

This chaat-walla has stationed his cart by the side of a smoggy highway in south Delhi. The air is toxic. The bus fumes are pervasive. The tikkis are layered with dust. The chutneys are bubbling with filth. Eating the chaat here is inviting a bout of sever stomach upset. But all that pain and lavatory sessions is worth the trouble. The tiikkis are absolutely delicious.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tender People, Un-tender Land

These two beautiful ladies were selling hand-made flutes in Dilli Haat – a handicraft bazaar in Delhi where artists from different parts of the country gather to display their ware. They had come from a village in Chhattisgarh – a beautiful province in central India presently in the grip of an exceptionally bloodied Maoist violence.

But look at their tender expressions. How do they cope with such difficult times back home?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Topless in Delhi!

A middle-aged lady reads a book in a New Delhi bookshop with remarkable immodesty. Such outrageous sights are increasing becoming common in the capital city. The country, it appears, is shedding more and more of its traditional shyness. All this, of course, is welcome.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Easter in Delhi - Lady with Lambs

It was Easter at Delhi's Sacred Heart Cathedral. The congregation appeared to be weighed down with mass melancholia. An unsmiling woman lighted candles in a corner. A mother murmured prayers while her children chirped.

But even this day could not bridge Delhi’s social divide. Click to read the full story - Photo Essay: Easter in Delhi – Hindi People Vs. English People.

The High Rise People

They are the blue collar workers of India's construction boom - the aching limbs and dripping sweat of all these high-rises.*

But they themselves live in tin shanties that go red-hot in summers and ice-cold in winters. Okay, they do build flats with in-built toilets but they themselves have to resort to railways tracks early in the mornings when no one could see them doing their morning rituals. Besides, their children do not go to school. In all, these are quite sad lives. Yet, they feel this life in big cities is better than what they were living in their villages. Imagine how terrible it must be there.

Just one of the dark sides of a booming nation!

*This picture was taken in a Delhi suburb.

Mills & Boon Alley

The traffic whooshes past and the chaos of the bazaar is never far. Yet, this second hand book shop, with its rows of Mills & Boon and Barbara Cartlands stand serenely like a civilized island in a sea of big city disorder.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Little Nanny

She is a Little Baby. But she is a Poor Man’s Baby. So she works as a maid in a Rich Man’s household. Every time the rich family goes to the bazaar, she has to carry the Rich Man’s Baby (the Lucky Baby).

One evening the Rich Man and his Rich Woman went down the stairs to a book shop in Delhi’s South Extension market. The Poor Man’s Baby trailed them even as the Lucky Baby she held in her tiny arms howled all the time. The Rich Man and his Rich Woman were not evil but when the Poor Man’s Baby, tired of her load, tried to make the Lucky Baby stand down on the floor, the Rich Man’s Rich Woman gently asked the Poor Man’s Baby to keep the Lucky Baby in her arms.

There may be a country-wide ban on children below 14 working as domestic help but this is India – wealthy people have their own codes!

Delhi Drama

If film means Bombay, then drama is Delhi. The city may not boast of big stars but it has gives enough talented actors to keep the local theater scene busy. This picture was taken in Mandi House, home to the prestigious National School of Drama.

Not far away, in a grassy roundabout, could be seen young people rehearsing their lines for the evening performances*. Most of these aspiring actors hone up their skills in Delhi before moving on to Bombay to become Sharukh Khans and Aishwarya Rais. Best wishes for their struggles.

*The reader may note in the picture that the evening attraction included a theater adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

Trees of Delhi

Delhi prides itself on having more trees than any other metropolitan city in India. But the library of trees has got just one short of its numbers!

In fact, the trees are being chopped off wherever the highways are being widened or the metro rail is being laid out. It is hoped these infrastructural developments may curtail down the population of vehicles (the city has got more than double the combined vehicles of Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata) at some future date saving the air from exhaust fumes.

But is the cost too high?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Ruined by Reading

This is Daryaganj’s Sunday Book Bazaar - Delhi’s most important cultural institution. Every Sunday booksellers set up their temporary stalls in this mile-long pavement and are visited by book lovers, like this young mother, all day long.

Muslim Women of Delhi

Falak and Kiran - two sisters - pose for this photographer. Falak (in blue) also addresses certain queries: Are Muslims exploited in India? Are women exploited in Islam? An exclusive interview - click here.