A Photographer’s Lockdown Diaries

Truly unprecedented.

We have been confined to our homes for a month. Home, a place that in ordinary times we long to get back to after long hours at work, a safe haven that evokes comfort, is now like a waiting room.

As a visual artist, a few weeks ago, I started to figure ways to keep myself engaged. While completing open projects, managing client expectations and finishing daily chores, I was missing the daily ritual of stepping out; it is perhaps the most underrated and overlooked way in which we unwind. My world was firmly shut behind my doors.

Living in urban jungles, we barely know our neighbours. Green lungs are few and far between. Many of our windows open to the sight of more apartments, pale and nondescript walls, or busy and dusty roads.

The windows of my house face the main road, thankfully curtained by a row of beautiful Yellow Flame (Peltophorum pterocarpum) or Peela Gulmohar trees. In full bloom, these majestic trees with their canopy of flowers nestling among dark green leaves have turned into a home for birds more numerous than ever before. I began to spend hours looking out. One day, I noticed a gap in the tree cover. It was like a window that offered a limited, but much much-needed interface with the world. I could see people!

People make me anxious and I try to stay away from crowds and gatherings. Ironically, as a documentary and street photographer, people also fascinate me. I began to notice through that singular frame humanity passing by, mostly frontline citizens — sanitation workers, health workers, home-delivery boys, milkmen, cops and relief workers providing meals to the stranded labourers, the homeless and the  stray animals. 

There were also the usual sights — people on quick grocery runs, walking dogs, jogging, driving by, stuck with broken-down vehicles, cycling, looking lost and wandering.

This is my world of COVID. Told through one single frame.