Mission Delhi – Chanda, N Block, Outer Circle, Connaught Place
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Delhi literally teems with scores of very important people (VIPs). Meeting even 1% of them would be the achievement of a lifetime.
Far easier, but equally fascinating, is to meet the good woman Chanda who sits every day on a traffic divider selling bird seed—with hundreds of birds huddled right behind her. Here at Connaught Place’s N Block (Outer Circle) the birds know a good thing, soaring above and around Chanda.
“A friend told me five years ago that pigeons regularly gather here, and that I could earn a living selling grains to people who’d like to feed them,” she explains.
Of course, our capital has any number of places where birds can be fed, but Chanda is stationed in perhaps the most picturesque spot. The birds hover about this corner of the colonial-era district forever dense with traffic.
And their forays high into the sky, against the backdrop of British architecture, is visually dramatic. As is gazing upon this woman sitting still, Buddha-like, with her birds in the heart of the hectic metropolis.
She herself lives in a one-room dwelling in faraway west Delhi’s Nangloi with five daughters. One of them works in a shoe factory (her monthly income pays the house rent), while two others attend school.
This evening Chanda is sitting comfortably, a friendly bird sitting atop her friendly head. Smoking a beedi, she mutters, “My work gives me some money as well as some punya (karma).”
One of her girls, the 8th standard student Bhumika, is sitting cross-legged on the pavement across the road with her textbook. The setting is poignant as well as idyllic.
[This is the 274th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The bird woman