OLD DELHI, India – October, 20, 2009
We are being warned by our guide: “keep your arms and legs inside at all times. Don’t forget, in India safety comes last!”
Safety comes last? Is he kidding? Are we in danger? As it turned out, no. But we are afraid, and exhilarated, as we careen through the streets of Old Delhi – teeming with motor bikes, cows, cars, and pedestrians, all happily vying for an open lane (to call it a lane is a big stretch) — on rickshaws that aren’t, shall we say, factory-made. This is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride redux.
There’s a second warning. “Drink lots of water. It’s hot here and you must be hydrated!” We drink but still get woozy, which amplifies the craziness of the ride.
Apparently, this is everyday life in India: lots of people moving about in extreme heat, through streets and alleys whose traffic has no rules. Looking closely, I see many people — old and young – who have sought the shade of a doorway or overhang to stay cool and find solitude. Whether this is their regular spot or a temporary retreat, they look comfortable and relaxed, an opportunity for me to photograph what I imagine to be their true selves.