Point of view: An oasis of color and calm

A photographer stumbles on a timeless scene in the mazelike Indian slums.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff

I wandered through narrow alleyways, past ancient doorways and peeling walls – a tiny bakery here, a glimpse of a home with a small courtyard there. I was in a New Delhi slum but felt completely safe. People seemed surprised to see me walking alone, yet they smiled at me.

One of the greatest Sufi shrines, Nizamuddin Dargah, was somewhere in this maze. I hoped to find it and finally turned a corner in the right direction.

I was rewarded with a timeless scene: Sufi pilgrims filling a small plaza. In the center was the domed shrine with intricately carved screens.

Women dressed in colorful head scarves sat side by side reading prayer books on the veranda. Around the other side sat the men, all in white.

I worried I might be intruding, yet no one seemed bothered. On the contrary, they seemed happy to be photographed.

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