Two weeks ago a professional photographer and a fellow FS spouse based in Chennai came to Delhi for a scheduled portrait shoot. She needed a photo assistant and I realized that I badly needed to get out of the house to capture on film all of my favorite details about Delhi–unencumbered by irresistibly kissable baby limbs and funny, if distracting, toddler antics.
I learned so much from Elise over the course of the weekend, about portraiture and coaching subjects and light and artistry and film.
I also learned that the kids can survive and thrive if I leave them in someone else’s care for several hours, several days in a row.
I feel less like a woman possessed than I did a few weeks ago when I was driving around town, hands clenched around my camera body, ready to jump out of the car and shoot on a moment’s notice. Somewhere in a box, on strips of negatives and a hard drive live the photos that show the things that I find beautiful about this place. Not captured perfectly or always very artistically, but captured well enough for me to remember why I have loved living here, what India means to me.
Delhi is a place with hard edges, it’s not always Incredible India, but when I look at these photos from the last few weeks, all I’m inclined to remember are the colorful details.
Like the hand-lettered signage on everything, it’s a wonder typographers world over don’t flock here to hover over the shoulders of barely-literate lettering craftsmen.
In a country where there are always at least 5 people to do one person’s job, it’s still funny to me that the delivery of fresh milk is just about the only automated transaction here:
But if you need to lift something heavy, the only option is pure manpower:
Everyday life is beautiful to me here, even as it is also hard, tragic and ruthlessly unfair. Delhi has a certain style to it. Morose but still somehow regal–like royalty adamantly in denial that the glory days have already come and gone. There’s something to admire in the arrogance of this city and even more to admire in the people who carve out their lives and their living in spite of it.
And they do so beautifully.