You might have guessed by now how fond we are of exploring the streets and alleys of urban destinations on foot. By ourselves, or on guided walks led by locals in the know. There is no better way to connect to a city than to get off the beaten path and watch real people. At work, and at play. To witness the rhythms and routines of their daily lives structured by the demands of family, job and religion.
We went on nine such walks last year, beginning with a walk through Montmarte in Paris, followed by three in Delhi, one in Lucknow, one in Varanasi and three more in Kolkata! Montmarte aside, the rest were at times vivid and intense immersions into the diversity of (real) life in urban India.
Here is a gallery of people doing their thing, all from the walks in India…..not all technically perfect, but special to me for the memories they evoke.
Let us start with the ‘wallahs‘:
A nariyalwallah ((tender) coconut seller) in the Malick Ghat flower market Kolkata.
From the same bazaar, a phoolwallah, or rather, a phool -carrier, in his marigold ‘skirt’.
A languorous rickshawallah! (I had just clicked the image that is my current background, when this man rushed in to claim ownership!)
The mithaiwallah (a worker in Girish Chandra Dey & Nakur Chandra Nandi sweet shop, reputed to be the makers of the best Nolen Gur (new jaggery) Sandesh in town. Can’t vouch for that fact since they had run out of sandesh, but whatever we tasted was pretty good.
And the second hand bookwallah from College Street. (OK, I just cooked up this ‘wallah’)
A mali (gardner) on the grounds of the Agra Fort (Yes, that is the the Taj Mahal in the distance!)
I hope you remember my young chaiwallah?
And the lassiwallah from Varanasi?
And the paanwallah from Old Delhi?
Then there is the butcher (who wouldn’t keep still long enough for a decent shot. I think he was just too happy.)
The (jaunty) barber…
A tinker, (this Lucknowi gentleman crafts rings out of old coins!)
Tailor? (Zardosi workers actually, but hey, I can see needles and threads!)
Locksmith (This man fell out with his brothers, and opted for this tiny slice of a shop over a partnership in their larger space next door!)
And even a little thief!
That was a lot of work! Off to play. I appreciate your tagging along.