Photo Essay – The Joys of Poverty

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The Joys of Poverty

Shame and shamelessness in the walled city.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Every city has its own Calcutta, that mythical city of the living dead where white people come to write books like The City of Joy. The walled city is Delhi’s private Calcutta.

The region around Jama Masjid has no romance. The breathtaking beauty of the Mughal monument has no pride. This is as it should be. For this historic quarter is unfolding an unending tragedy: the brutality of extreme poverty and how it has stripped some of our fellow human beings of all dignity and how we, the priviledged, have grown used to it.

Take a walk here. Look around. Look especially into the eyes of pavement people. You will notice there is nothing there. Not even despair. That too has died.

These men, women and children sleep over gutters, scavenge for garbage rotis, eat maggoty meat and smoke smack to get away from this world. Silent and listless, they have become so much a part of the Old Delhi scenery that they are no longer noticed by people like us.

Women gossip, men get haircuts, boys watch naked women’s posters, and tourists walk past on their way to Kareem’s restaurant without even a glance at these wretched of Old Delhi. In our scheme of things, they have already died.

Happily hopeless

The Joys of Poverty

What’s life?

The Joys of Poverty

No today, no tomorrow

The Joys of Poverty

Gutter dreams

The Joys of Poverty

Arms and the man

The Joys of Poverty

Smack buddies

The Joys of Poverty

The living dead

The Joys of Poverty

Let’s have more

The Joys of Poverty

No regrets, no disappointments

The Joys of Poverty

Don’t wake me

The Joys of Poverty

Some hope this

The Joys of Poverty