There are about 1.3 billion people in India. About 19 million of them are in Delhi alone.
Old Delhi is where I experienced my first culture shock in India: There are so many people here. How can there be so many people in one place? Everywhere I looked, something was going on. There was not a square inch of space where I would turn my head and something wasn’t going on. And no two things were the same. Someone was always doing something differently than the guy next to him. One guy would be drinking tea, while another guy was shining shoes, while another guy was riding his bike, while another guy was folding a saree.
It was incredible to see.
I wandered around Old Delhi– Chadni Chowk specifically– and never felt like I was in danger, just surrounded by a lot of people. I mostly took a lot of video, so if you prefer to hear the sounds of the chaos, scroll down for video, but here are the moments I captured forever in time. For a country that moves fast, I’m excited I was able to capture these moments.
A man, on the edge of Old Delhi, changes his horses shoes as people rush by him to reach the metro station. He was not in the road, or off to the side, just there in the middle of the plaza leading to the metro entrance.
Everywhere you will see people hard at work using their head to carry large items. Some people even do it going uphill.
At first, this man did not want his picture taken. Then his associate gestured that it was fine, convincing him to let me take photos. Then he invited me to come see the food being cooked as I waited. At this time, I had no idea what I was about to eat, just saw others eating and knew I wanted it. Puri (pictured here) is a deep-fried bread used in combination with curry. The whole meal was 60 rupees (less than 1 USD).
Every inch of space is taken up on this bike.
I could feel this man’s eyes on me as I took photo and video of the scene in front of me: the crowds quickly moving past, the motorbikes, the tourists– the man watched it all. But he kept looking at me, too. He stood so still, so I lifted my camera to him, but then he turned away as if he never saw me. As I stood there with my camera though, he turned back again and didn’t break eye contact.
The world was moving, moving, moving and this man only sat in thought, smoking his cigarettes.
Remember how I said that there is always something going on, everywhere you look? I thought about cropping this photo into different photos, but I didn’t think it would do India justice. Several things are happening in this photo, which to me, defines India. So many things happening at once, it is never boring. I wanted to evoke a feeling of constant busyness with this photo. How does this photo make you feel?
Jewelry is sold everywhere in India, and for a very low price. Here is a jewelry salesman in front of his shop. It is located in a narrow alleyway of Old Delhi where many other shops are hidden, waiting for customers.
When I saw these men I knew I had to take a picture so I went straight up to them and asked. They were sitting on the side of the road, just watching and were happy to oblige. I call it Five Men because, well, one of them was a little shy.
You get used to people staring at you after a while. In fact, a lot of people don’t mind having their picture taken. This man was stuck in traffic and saw me with my camera and when I lifted it to take a picture, he didn’t break his stare as if he was waiting the whole time for me to take a picture.
This is my absolute favorite photo of them all. Do I need to explain? It’s beautiful to me.