content article The Decadence of Preservation Chahat

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There is stagnancy in the bustling markets of Chandni Chowk. Even as I jump puddles, dodge loaded, manually driven carts, and duck under heavy steel rods carried over malnourished shoulders; I feel like I am going nowhere. In the stifling heat of the Sunday sun, most walk with a rhythmic purpose, while I walk in circles. I carry my privilege around my neck, a digital camera. Too ashamed to take any more pictures. My shutter doesn’t capture remnants of history. My shutte creates relics.

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A multistoried building constructed next to an old ruin.

My shame sprouts to my heated face as I attempt to take a picture of a man on a street corner, diligently scrubbing old pots and pans. He tells me there is no need to take a picture, ‘I am only doing my work!’ he says. I apologize and I leave. ‘Me too!’ I think to myself. I go on to inspect an old Haveli. The residents are nice enough to let me take pictures inside. The outside is a beautifully preserved fragment of the past; the inside belongs to a past that develops haphazardly. ‘Bahar heritage hain, andar kuch bhi karo.’ (‘The outside is a heritage site, inside we can do whatever we want.) And so we let a facade be a representation of history and the authentic to crumble.

I bring you photos that can only hope to represent the authentic.