Last year we were able to visit a few slums in Gurgaon, and to witness the extreme contrasts of the city often times described as 'Millennium City.' Home to 250 Fortune 500 companies, it is also home to countless slums in which live migrants from all over India.
Whenever a high rise goes up, an entire neighborhood is created as its construction workers, its security guards and its housemaids. As we ran across a building under construction, we would drive a bit closer and almost always see such a scene. The families often times lived in single rooms with metal roofs, temperatures rising well over the surroundings at anytime.
In such a neighborhood this girl lives, and we made the effort to locate her and her friends this past summer. Last year we photographed them with the guidance of the foundation. Their faces were etched in my mind.
This time around we were forced to take it upon ourselves to find them, and did so thanks to the help of one volunteer who took the time to do so in spite of the lack of support from above. While he recognized the slum thanks to my description from last year, it was one in which he had never worked.
The three of us walked into the slum without our cameras at first, looking for those faces. As soon as we had a following, we showed one face to them... and all recognized her. They walked us over to her tent, and there she was... as magnificent as she was the previous year... and then some!
Seeing that we knew the children, the community relaxed a bit and helped us gather the children for an afternoon of photography. We found a beautiful wall at the end of the alley, and made a plan between us as to how we were to proceed. We talked about photographing the boys first, allowing us to photograph the girls more peacefully.
From my experience, enlisting the help of one or two young men had always helped... and so we did so here as well. While I was worried that some of the girls would walk away in all of the confusion, they remained steadfast and presented themselves with such power and dignity when their time came.
Such was the case with this young girl. There were perhaps over sixty people gathered, yet she concentrated on the lens in front of her only. The light was magnificent, striking gently her eyes and allowing her to look straight ahead without strain.
Her features are as refined as any strolling the fashion strips of the world, while the honesty of her expression is unmatched. For her this work continues, and my hope is that the school in her community continues to operate indefinitely. Next year we will look for her and her sisters again, and hope that life is a little less cruel as well.