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My Scholarship entry - Seeing the world through other eyes

INDIA | Sunday, 22 April 2012 | Views [259] | Scholarship Entry

Paharganj

Paharganj

Like many, Delhi was my first stop in India.

Many travelers had told me they couldn’t get out of the smog and hustle fast enough, but I found something about the seemingly disorganized clamor of the city oddly endearing; the stark contrast of its neighborhoods, littered with remnants of empires long fallen, the mix of old and new, privileged and destitute, side by side. Every day I left the hostel I saw a different face of Delhi, and each sight was made richer still by the rotating company I kept during my wanders.

Through a Dutch photographer I saw the city as an image waiting to be captured. We navigated winding side streets, scavenging for favorable lighting and intriguing contrast. There was promise in each dusty, filtered sunbeam, possibility in each weathered, graffitied wall.

Through a Brit on the start of his first trip, I saw Delhi as a terrifying beast; a daunting, bustling cacophony of people he didn’t know. The chaotic blend of traffic and touts assaulted his senses, threatening to subdue him with doubt before his travels even began.

In contrast, an Indian in town on contract found it dull and slow in comparison to his home base of Mumbai. He longed to return to a city that is just waking up when the sun goes down.

An American street preacher looked here and saw a mission, a nation worshiping false gods. He saw something to be changed, minds and hearts to be won.

Whereas a local NGO worker saw his childhood home, a neighborhood he dearly loves and has no desire to leave. He saw people in need, an opportunity to help and to motivate others to do the same.

Peeking through the lenses of others allowed me to pick up details that might otherwise have fallen upon blind eyes. It infused my experience with color and context, creating a rich mosaic of impressions where I might otherwise mistakenly have seen only concrete and paint.

Which, in a city as diverse and vibrant as Delhi, would have been a great loss indeed.

Tags: travel writing scholarship 2012

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