Delhi’s alluring beauty and rich history has been widely documented and written about over centuries. In Chandni Chowk, Delhi, Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali chronicles Delhi through its varied cityscapes and moods.
Mapping the city through his words, Ali writes ‘Can you rinse away this city that lasts like blood on the bitten tongue?’
A similar attempt at documenting the city—using a visual medium—is being made by Divyam Singhal (32), a Hauz Khas resident who captures stories of common people of the city through his blog ‘Humans of Delhi’.
Singhal uses the power of social media to highlight uncommon stories and merge these narratives into the mainstream.
Singhal, who started blogging in 2015, has expanded the blog over time by scouring stories from every nook and corner of the city and showcasing it across multiple mediums.
“I love going around Delhi and I try to document my experiences with this page,” he says. An amalgamation of formats including text, photographs, and mini documentaries gives his content an engaging bent.
Evolved from passion
The idea of starting ‘Humans of Delhi’ originated from Singhal’s interest in wandering the city. It further materialised when Singhal, a 2013 graduate of Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, realised that his job as a software engineer was not as creatively fulfilling as he thought it would be.
“When I started working as a software engineer, I realised the profession was not really that creative. When you write code for yourself, it seems interesting but when you do it as a job, you do not find it as intriguing,” he shares.
Looking for alternatives to keep him creatively charged, Singhal turned to writing and photography.
In search for stories, Singhal often ends up randomly asking a stranger if he can take a picture of them, which then keeps the conversation going.
“I just ask them [people he meets] a question, such as ‘tell me something you have learnt from your life?’ and then they begin telling me their life story,” he shares.
With due consent, Singhal then transcribes excerpts from these interviews and shares them through his blog.
“We have a habit of speaking more and listening less. I believe that I am an avid listener; I give people a chance to speak and I listen,” he adds.
Singhal’s blog also features accounts of individuals who have been doing something worthwhile and often, of service. The reason behind publishing such narratives are to help these individuals get the recognition their work deserves.
“I also make documentaries on those who have something interesting going on and are, in a way, giving back to society. For example, I made a video on a person who repairs cameras for cheap in Chandni Chowk since he is interested in the art and not worried about money,” shares Singhal.
With over 250 stories, Singhal’s blog is an ode to Delhi and its people, whose lives also contribute to the city’s rich and deep history.