A Tranquil Surprise – and a Reality Check

In the midst of the clamour of the Paharganj market district, about 100 yards in from the busy 6-lane road and the massive concrete structure of the Metro overhead at one end of the main street through the marketplace, I saw a sign and gateway.

They were almost completely hidden behind commercial stalls that crowded in from each side.


Immediately inside the grounds, to the right, was an open-air carpentry shop. Coffins were being built and customized with simple carvings.

It was the last thing I’d expected to see in this busy, crowded area. It might be argued that these dead have more space than some still alive.

To help you appreciate how crowded life is here, the last photo was taken immediately outside the entrance to the marketplace. I was standing across the street, looked up one level and saw an entire home in a single space snugged directly beneath the Metro structure. I could see sleeping mats in the dark area above the television, directly behind the set of underwear to the back.

Given that there are two different sizes of underwear hanging across the space, at least two people – and who knows how many more – live in that box.

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