Chaos

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

It’s been a while since I’ve joined the dailypost photo challenge, but this week’s prompt caught my eye. Chaos. No, I don’t mean the aftermath of the US election result. Although I don’t think that’s going to be entirely straightforward. I’m thinking of something far more appealing in its chaos: Old Delhi.

I’m currently working in India, and while I’m mostly spending my time holed up in a conference venue, I had an amazing day on Saturday. I was guided round the tiny, chaotic backstreets of Old Delhi by a former street kid, who showed me places I’d never have found if left to my own devices. His personal story is one of tragedy, hurt, determination and bravery, and ultimately a great deal of hope.

Under the guardianship of an ailing granny, he was left pretty much to his own devices as a little boy and got into drugs and petty crime at only seven years old. Granny gave up and packed him off to his father, who sent him to work in a hotel, confiscating his wages and beating him whenever he was at home. By the time he was 10, he got fed up and ran away. He was eventually picked up by outreach workers in Connaught Place in New Delhi, and persuaded them to help him build a future. Now 20, he is finishing his secondary education, providing outreach to street kids in New Delhi, working as a tour guide and performing in theatre groups that have toured the UK. He’s aiming to save enough money to study visual effects at university and move into the film industry, while continuing to help street kids to find their way to a better future. I’ve never met someone so full of hope and determination. A true inspiration and proof that if you really want something, you can pull yourself up by the metaphorical bootstraps and go out and damn well work for it. Against the odds. In spite of everything. If only someone will give you a chance.

The chaos in Chandni Chowk is more than any other I have ever seen. The constant blare of auto rickshaw and car horns, the rickety creaking of cycle rickshaws, the hollering of tradesmen, the bustle of shoppers, the smells of fresh bread, curry, sweet chai, rich spices, traffic fumes, herbal cigarettes and excrement, the pushing and shoving, men hauling carts of goods that must weigh hundreds of kilos, women carrying bags of shopping on their heads, the grey filth, the rainbow saris, the scowls, the smiles, the rich, the destitute, the young and trendy and the old and traditional – Old Delhi has everything. It’s overwhelming. And supremely difficult to photograph. But I had a go. So here’s this week’s chaos:

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