Friday, 15 October 2010

My Work: Old Delhi's Khari Baoli

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Khari Baoli is reputed to be one of Asia's largest wholesale spice market, and is accessible from Chandni Chowk Road in the heart of Old Delhi. It's one of my favorite haunts whenever I'm in Delhi, and it's a wonderful area for some serious street photography. Of course, going there is also an excuse to stop by Kareem's for its famed kebabs.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The area is full of explorable narrow alleys, while porters hurry with massive jute bags of spices jostle passer-bys. The atmosphere is almost medieval, with the spice and rice traders carrying on the business of their ancestors. Nothing has changed much over the years.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

In a small cubicle under a store, one of the area's chai-wallahs is straining the concoction into glasses. Chai or masala chai is a blend of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and black pepper, mixed with a rich black tea, milk, and a sweetener.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The spice market's feverish activity of carrying or unloading of huge sacks of spices and goods from manual trolleys is occasionally interspersed by laborers resting and smoking their sweet-smelling bidis .

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

I am definitely in the midst of a black & white phase. When I was producing my Bali: The Trilogy audio slideshows, I thought it was a contrarian reaction to the surfeit of color I've witnessed in Bali. Perhaps it was...but I looked at the above photographs in color, and sensed they'd look better in monochromatic tones. Perhaps I wanted to convey the grittiness of Khari Baoli, and black & white does that better.

Whatever it is,  I'm enjoying it a lot.