[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla has reached a significant landmark. Very soon I will be sharing the 100th portrait of my Mission Delhi project.
Long time ago I had started this series. I had written:
You don’t understand a city by its buildings and bazaars, but by its people. That’s why you cannot take in the entire Delhi in one lifetime – we have 13 million souls here. The Delhi Walla plans to make portraits of one per cent of this 8-digit figure, that is 1, 30, 000 Delhiwallas. Each portrait will have at least one photograph of the person along with a peek into his life. By the time I finish the project (just assuming), the looks and the lives of most people I will photograph and profile is bound to change. You may wonder then, what is the point? Well, people are not ruins. They evolve over the years. Trying to sketch a person at a moment in his/her life is not to mummify him/her, but to get a sense of the city, his/her city. So I will search for people like you. You can be anyone. You may be living in a Defence Colony barsati or in a Seelampur shanty. You may be from Bihar or Kerala. You may be a vice chancellor. You may be a prostitute. You may be a rich man’s daughter. You may be a housewife. You may be bisexual. You may be asexual. I’m interested in you all. I want to portray all of you. But one lakh and thirty thousand portraits… possible? Inshallah. God willing.
Proust willing, I have done 99 portraits. Soon, I will share the 100th portrait with you. Hope to meet you too on this journey.