New Delhi, May 2017
It is warm and humid. The rain showers in the morning included some strong thunderstorms, but now the rain is gone and I am waiting in the lobby of my hotel in Delhi. India has always been fascinating, a place full of strong and bold impressions. The summer is hot here and during winter people often fight the cold especially during the night. The harsh and diverse environmental conditions influence their daily life. I am heading for the INA market, an accumulation of many stands that form a huge open market. It will be a short documentary project that shows how people live here in Delhi.
Streets are busy and crowded as usual. My driver finds his way easily through the chaotic traffic. Clouds are still present and reduce the pain of the heat. People in Delhi are very friendly and curious towards strangers. My first steps inside the market are accompanied by smiling faces that follow each of my steps. Many of these faces are eager to have their portraits taken. After spending some time talking to them, making jokes, laughing and showing them their portraits, I try to get more intimate and candid shots. It is very hard to hide among the masses of people. Even though I wear subdued clothes, I attract a lot of attention. But people are busy and I try to move quiet and slow. This helps. I am able to observe the interaction between shoppers getting their daily needs, buying at spice stands, looking for fresh meat and other products on their list. You will find everything from fresh fish to baby diapers here.
The back of the market is truly unusual for the western eye. Here there are butcher shops and fish mongers. The heat is obviously problem for them, but they found their own unique solutions to deal with it. Fish is presented on ice, but the butchers have the meat lying on the shelfs without cooling. Flies are present everywhere and there is a certain biting smell in the air that makes me feel quite uncomfortable. Still I am curious and I capture the scenes that unfold in front of me. Deals are done and packages are switching owners. It is fascinating to observe this exciting interactions. But the warm weather is taking its toll. The mongers who are waiting for customers are fighting the heat. They try to relax in a cool area of their stand. They seem to know each other well.
Flies are still everywhere. You need to watch every step as the floor is full of undefined liquids. A fascinating place with fascinating people. On my way home I think about what I have seen. For me it was a revealing experience. It was strange to see how these people work and how the simple routine of shopping goods for their daily need can be so different on another continent.
All images are under copyright of Sebastian Schlueter
New Delhi, India