Once upon a time, walking on the wide Barakhamba Road, which is home to many offices and the famous Modern School, I coveted a full-time job on the tenth floor of a building that looked more like a deserted, brittle glass house.
And then, as if the wish was granted in the mere batting of an eyelid, this cosy avenue in central Delhi has become a second home.
Being a self-confessed Instagram addict, I have documented the changing hues of this business district before and after a work schedule that has stretched over almost four years, five days a week and eight hours a day.
It is a well-known fact that Barakhamba derives its name from a nobleman’s house built during the rule of Mohammad Bin Tughlaq, the 14th century ruler of Delhi. The house, originally built on this road, doesn’t exist any more. It had twelve pillars, hence bara khamba.
But, the protagonists of my pictures are not the demolished nobleman’s house or the Lodi period monument south of Delhi.
Let’s take a detour. In Bollywood film “Queen”, recall a harried Indian girl running away from the very sight of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Her fiance dumped her a day or two before the marriage. And she’s come to this romantic city by herself. The tower is a painful reminder of her honeymoon that never took place. No matter how fast and far she runs, the formidable structure somehow manages to catch her attention, willy nilly.
Although nobody has snubbed me yet, but a certain black and white striped building does hold my attention through the day and that I am sure is true for most who come to Barakhamba everyday.
I have captured the building in its various moods – sometimes it glitters against the dark blue evening sky, resplendent under the street light; it pales when the sun shines bright like a sharp sword; during monsoon, it looks old and vulnerable; and after the rain stops, its reflection resembles a corroding memory stuck in a scrapbook.
My lead characters are also — the homeless, sleeping outside the metro station; passengers walking into a flood of sunlight invading the entrance of the metro; men reading newspapers at the bus stop; the sweeper removing remnants of the previous day; and the morning newspapers waiting to be delivered to their rightful owners.
At the corner of a busy street, dotted with eateries, an old man poses for me after sipping tea. At sunrise, I have seen Barakhamba Road shedding the cloak of night, turning into a soft crimson scape. At night, it is lined with twinkling street lights. The emptiness on the road reverberates with the sound of police patrolling vans.
Here’s a slideshow –