Monday, 2 May 2011

India: maharajas and minarets

Old Delhi is a bit like the evil twin of New Delhi, where the UNICEF office is located. Where the new town has wide, tree-lined avenues, clean streets and vast, gated mansions, the old city is full of narrow streets and dilapidated buildings. Its streets are filled with a dense crowd of people and animals, including goats with full udders and carts drawn by large oxen, which battle tuk-tuks, cyclists and cars for command of the road. Disabled beggars limp between vehicles chasing a few rupees and entire families sleep rough on the pavements wherever there is a patch of shade. Here are some of my favourite photos from both sides of the city. Read my India blog »

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A passage to India: the two faces of Delhi

Me and Joyce at Humayun's tomb, the precursor of the Taj Mahal.
© Andy Brown/2011/India

A few days after Songkran, I packed my bags once again and booked a ticket to Delhi, India. It’s a country I’ve always wanted to visit. I have several British-Indian friends in London and have watched countless movies about the country, from Richard Attenborough’s classic Ghandi to more recent art house fare like Earth and Water. I’ve always been intrigued by the country’s rich culture and history.

However, I also felt some trepidation. I’d heard about India’s extreme poverty, with slum dwellings lining the pavements of Mumbai, and had been warned to expect touts, scammers and hasslers. Joyce and I went to Morocco a few years ago and had an unhappy time. As soon as we stepped onto the street, we would be mobbed by aggressive and persistent fake guides, who would swear and spit at us when we refused their services. I was worried Delhi would be the same.

Happily, my time in India turned out to be neither quite like a movie, nor anywhere near as unfriendly as Morocco. However, there were two distinct sides to Delhi and its people. It was like a two-sided Venetian mask - one face smiling happily, the other angry and unsettling.