City Walk – Window Watching, Old Delhi
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The truth is this: Historic Old Delhi can be frustrating for outsiders.
Amid all the monuments and bazaars, how do you go about detecting the domestic world of locals getting on with their lives?
Well, here’s one trick. While walking along the Walled City’s by-lanes, keep your head perched upwards. Many homes are tucked above the storefronts.
A more private world exists up there, and you’ll encounter plenty of it through their windows and balconies.
A woman is now curiously peering out from her sun-dappled window here in Galli Chooriwallan, while over there a guy is shaving in his balcony; even as an elderly woman, perhaps his mother, is shelling peas.
One window in Matia Mahal Bazar is decked out with laundry and also features green money plant vines requiring daily watering. While in a Bulbuli Khana street, a colourful balcony is decorated most luxuriously with plastic flowers.
A third story window in Chitli Qabar district is fitted with a red plastic basket that has a rope tied around its handle. The dwellers up there lower the basket when it’s time to purchase vegetables and fruit from street vendors. “They just drop the basket like a fisherman at the Yamuna,” explains a neighbourhood shopkeeper.
Some windows are striking in their architectural beauty—one in Bulbuli Khana is divided into dozens of small windows. Indeed, the window scenes in the Walled City can be so engrossing that it’s maybe tough to refocus your gaze to street level. A serious collateral damage certainly, and yet worth it.
Walled City by windows