The Human touch!

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" "Aeroplane" "You mean you want to fly one?" "No. I want to be an aeroplane"

The Human touch!

A charming banter, isn’t it? For a child to speak out his mind, he really needs a friend to open up to. But if we tell you, this conversation happened between two completely unfamiliar people, would you believe it? How long does it take for you to break the ice with strangers?

Especially when someone comes brandishing a huge DSLR camera, pointing it right at your face and throwing in a volley of questions (Sample these: What’s your greatest struggle till now? What’s your favourite thing about her? When did you first realise you were in love?) . 

If interviewing is an art, making people indulge into casual conversations about their personal life has to be the pinnacle of it! Brandon Stanton heralded this global phenomenon back in 2010, when he started creating an exhaustive photographic catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants. Not just that, this amateur photographer struck a rapport with people on the streets, culling out quotable quotes from their life, snipping short stories from his interviews and posting it along with their portraits. It went onto be a bestselling book, creating waves across the world as people started forming many such Humans of ‘their city’ pages. 

As Facebook paid a tribute to this hugely popular phenomenon with a video on its 10th anniversary, Metrolife caught up with our local ‘Humans of New Delhi-HOND’ to connect and learn more about their humble beginnings, their fascination with this worldwide phenomenon and futuristic aspirations. 

Sipping tea, or just strolling around on their only non-working day, when people share a part of their life with a photographer and say things like: “The happiest moment of my life hasn't arrived yet, but I know it will soon.” “How does that work?” “It's when my pension starts.” “But you're a coolie... What pension would you get?” “(laughs) Oh I have a pension plan in place. I call it 'my son.' I worked all my life... carried weight for meagre sums of money but I managed to get him a good education. Now he's got a job. Soon he'll start working. That's when I'll quit. That's the plan,” they  end up giving him a sneak peak into their treasured secrets. 

A string of conversations, plucked out of snippets from the lives of ordinary people dwelling on the streets of Delhi, makes for a social media-oriented photo-page called Humans of New Delhi (HOND). Speaking to Kriti Sharma, a copywriter by the day, we asked what took them so long to be swept by this storm as their Delhi page kicked off only in August 2013. 

“I didn’t have the courage to walk up to people for this project, but I was inspired by Brandon, the way he connected with his city, I thought we were missing out on it in Delhi. So, if nobody else was going to start it, I had to ‘take up arms’”, the official writer of the page says amiably.Rajib Saha, her fellow photographer, chips in, “Sometimes I explore a stranger's life in an hour, sometimes I fail, even after a long conversation. It is a tough task (in India) to get permission from strangers.”  

Making their task a little simpler, the next time you spot someone brandishing a camera, with a quizzical expression on their face, you might just want to spread your story to the world out there. 

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