Caught In The Act – Candid People Photos From The Streets Of India


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’s begin with the ‘wallahs‘:

A  nariyal-wallah (tender coconut seller) in the Malick Ghat flower market Kolkata.

From the same bazaar, a phool-wallah, or rather, a phool -carrier, in his marigold ‘skirt’.

A languorous ricksha-wallah! (I had just clicked the image that is my current background, when this man rushed in to claim ownership.)

Rickshawallah, Kolkata ——-

The mithai-wallah (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 the sandesh, but whatever we tasted was exceptional.)

Mithaiwallah - Kolkata

And the second hand book-wallah from College Street. (OK, I just cooked up this ‘wallah’.)

Bookseller on College Street - Kolkata

A mali (gardner) on the grounds of the Agra Fort (Yes, that is the the Taj Mahal in the distance!)

Mowing the lawns of the Agra Fort

I hope you remember my young chai-wallah 

Chaiwallah, Kolkata

And the lassi-wallah from Varanasi?

Lassi seller, Varanasi

Also the paan-wallah from Old Delhi?

Paan seller - Old Delhi

Then there is the butcher (who wouldn’t keep still long enough for a decent shot. I think he was just a happy soul.)

Chicken Shop, Kolkata

The (jaunty) barber…


The parantha-maker

Paranthewali Galli, Old Delhi

A tinker (this Lucknowi gentleman crafts rings out of old coins),

Making rings out of old coins - Lucknow

Tailor?  (Zardosi workers actually, but hey, I can see needles. And threads.)

Zardosi embroidery, Lucknow

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.)

Locksmith, Kolkata

And even a little thief!

Cat in a chicken shop, Kolkata

Appreciate your tagging along. If you enjoyed this you might want to check out more posts from the People Of My Places category.

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

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