Life in a red light district.
[By Nigel Tan]
Nigel Tan of the Singapore-based The Ridge Magazine talked about Nobody Can Love You More: Life in Delhi’s Red Light District, a book by The Delhi Walla. Click here to read it on the magazine’s website, or see below.
PUBLISHED IN late 2012, Nobody Can Love You More is like an anthology of heartbreaking poetry by Indian writer and photojournalist Mayank Austen Soofi, who is widely known for his blog, The Delhi Walla (www.thedelhiwalla.com).
In this foray into Delhi’s darker side, Soofi documents his 3-year long investigative journey into GB Road, the largest red light district in Delhi, which is notorious for its trade and its prevalence of crime and violence that go with the business.
To start off, Soofi joins kotha number 300, which is occupied by the brothel owner Sabir Bhai, his four children, and the sex workers living there. Here he learns how the business operates and the trade’s many secrets. Soofi also dives into the private lives and the minds of the kotha’s residents through opportunistic, and sometimes random, conversations with them. Overtime, Soofi develops a deep, platonic friendship with Sushma, a forty-something prostitute who still works in the trade despite her age. Soofi also befriends twelve-year-old Omar, Sabir Bhai’s eldest son, who confesses to him about his shame of being linked to the business, his fears of God’s judgment on his family, and his hope of a better future, away from the chaos of GB Road.
In between the intriguing dialogue and succulent descriptions of the people and places, Soofi also manages to educate the reader on the historical evolution of the sex industry in Delhi – the shifting of its location from Chawri Bazaar to GB Road, as well as the changes in practices of the sex workers and the hierarchies existing between them.
Unlike the countless other books of the same genre that promise you jaw-dropping scandals and heart-wrenching dramas, Nobody Can Love You More, with its honest representation of the seemingly bizarre yet ordinary lives of the residents of GB Road, is a breath of fresh air. It allows you, the reader, to see the intersection of social classes, kinship, friendship, love, faith and religion through the lens of different lives. It is an engaging narrative that celebrates life, and the resilience and beauty of the human spirit.
The world of GB Road (photos by Mayank Austen Soofi)
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