Like every other metro city across the globe, New Delhi is also changing fast – socio-economically, culturally as well as architecturally. It has still remained a horizontal city (unlike Mumbai or New York which had to grow vertically), but is slowly becoming a maze of flyovers and bridges. Most of these belong to the municipal authorities while the rest belong to the Delhi Metro Railways. While the authorities are trying to convert the space below these flyovers to landscaped gardens, some are still abandoned belonging to the drug-addicts or homeless at night.
One of those non-descript flyovers in East Delhi is however different. The barren space below, with a few trucks parked in one half, comes alive with innocent voices every working day from 9 am till 4 pm. A free school runs there for the last 15 years for under-privileged children from the slums nearby along theYamuna River. The school was started with just a few children by one good Samaritan Mr. Rajesh Sharma and a few of his friends in 2006. Rajesh, who couldn’t complete his own college education due to lack of money, kept his kitchen running by running a grocery shop. But he was determined that children in the neighborhood shouldn’t suffer the same fate and the school came into being – without any building, class rooms, benches or any other infrastructure. It never received any registration, but slowly grew as more children joined and a few more good Samaritan started teaching around 15 years ago. The school now has around 70 students (boys in the morning, girls in the afternoon) learning language to Mathematics to History.
This story is not unique, but it is different. It is different solely due to rare humanity peeping out of every layer of the story – Rajesh or the other teachers never received any money for their devotion, the school was never evicted by the authorities for occupying public space, nobody asked a few art college students to paint the walls or donate black boards, nobody asked some good men and women to donate some money or school uniform once in a while and nobody asked people like me to tell this story.
The last day I went there about a year ago, I saw a small idol of Lord Ganesha (the Hindu elephant god – the god of wealth) lying in the dust in one corner with the students studying at a distance. These young boys were studying just to get the blessings of Lord Ganesha- to earn a decent living, I thought. As I walked out of that space, I saw a flower starting to bloom on a plant that these children must have watered for months. Change is inevitable, but this one is so good!!
About Aniruddha Guha Sarkar
I live in New Delhi, am an Engineer by education, a part of the top management of an American I.T Services companyby profession and a learning photoartist by passion. Having been bored to death by corporate nothingness in various parts of the world for nearly 25 years, I took to the streets with my camera around 7 years back in search of a more meaningful life.
For the first 4 years of my journey, I followed the trends of street photography. I have never been into competitions seriously, but during this time, some of my work got exhibited in various international group exhibitions (e.g. in a few Italian cities, Moscow, Hamburg, Dubai etc.) and printed in various international/ national magazines. I am also a member of iN-PUBLiC and In-street collectives.
Artistic passion for creating a work of art and the craving for the joy when such rare occasions happen were always there in me and will be there in future too. However, I felt a growing need a few yearsagothat before trying to become an artist, one must first understand the time and place that one lives in and their socio-political evolution. The moments that I express in my images must come out of such deep experiences. I am therefore trying street documentaries on social themes these days – in order to be myself. Over the last year or so, I figured out through my failures how much subject matter understanding, time (which I don’t have – due to my professional commitments) and dedication such street documentaries take! Despite such limitations, going deeper to understand and express the time and place that I live in remains the only responsible direction that I can take and that’s what I keep trying.
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All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Aniruddha Guha Sarkar. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.