Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sector 13


I was being shuffled through the neighborhood in Sector 13 by an ambassadorship of dozens of kids, like a game of red rover our numbers added as we rolled and twisted through the walkways and rooms, all with bright blue or pink walls. There was always a small deep brown hand clasped around two or three of my fingers and I started to love hearing them say my name and pull me somewhere different. I was in the area to work on a short story about three interns from the University of Utah who were volunteering for the summer at a non-profit that serves this and other neighborhoods in New Dehli.
I had a few conversations with the interns that were working there and they had a very genuine and honest view of the city and what they were doing there. Through the conversations, things I was feeling were explained and clarified by their shared experiences. In India, as a Westerner we have to remind ourselves that this isn't just a giant production for us. We see depth, color, struggles and value in the land, people and architecture and at least for myself, it is easy to think that it is just a giant movie screen - and I will return home soon to my life and have a handful of photographs to remember my cameo appearance in some chaotic and colorful film.
My concern and comfort grew simultaneously as I tried to remain mindful that I was truly a visitor in a reality just as important and consequential as my own. I feared what was in store for those who were offering me tea and a chair.
Artie, one of the children would just hang off my hip with complete trust, one hand either holding mine or hanging off the back of my belt. I dreamed forward 10 years of bringing my family to Delhi and I see a face among the chaos that is the city and seeing a recognizable yet undefinable pair of eyes. Where would she be, would she be happy, safe and healthy?
Yet I had to remember that although the possibility of their childhood and teenage years resembling the comfort of mine was nearly impossible, that didn't necessitate pity. Anglo-American life doesn't have the market cornered on lives of substance and value. Needless to say the feelings and more importantly subsequent thoughts of my time in Sector 13 were very interesting. In the end I feel that one of the interns, James Egan said it best. Speaking from a standpoint of humanitarian service, he said, "If you want India to change you, in the way people expect you to be changed, you must be the things that policy can't be, you must do your best to relieve the proximate misery around you."

For more on this subject and to see the multimedia piece visit HERE.

To read Wendy Leonards story on the interns in Delhi, visit HERE.


Idzie said...

What powerful photos. Thanks so much for sharing!

Silva said...

Beautiful post - wonderful of you to share!

miss. chief said...

every time you post new photos i am extremely excited. no other photographer gets to the grit of things like you seem to.

i'd say you're one of my photography heroes.

thank you for sharing!

Pecas said...

Have you seen Born into Brothels? Your photos remind me of that. It is a powerful documentary to me.

Mike Terry said...

Yeah I have seen that film. Really powerful. These kids were luckily in a better "slum" than many in India. Still sub standard but they did have power and brick walls as opposed to corrugated metal and tarps which was what many of these slums were made out of. Thanks for looking and leaving your .02

eda said...