Living closer to the tropics is a whole lot of fun. You are up close and personal with the fiery ball of a star we call the sun. It is almost as if he (she?) were a next door neighbor who never goes away on a vacation. Just there. You don’t even need to look, he has ways of reminding you of his presence. Especially in summer. So, when I got this brief to photograph sunsets in New Delhi, I thought: ‘How hard can that be, we have sun. An excess of it, in fact.’ What with, pale-skinned northern people flocking to our climes to get something close to our natural complexion – the much touted tan. Sunset shots? As easy as a walk in the park.
Not for the first time in my life, I was sadly mistaken.
You see, the behavior of the sun changes with latitude. The more north or south from the equator you go the more relaxed the sun gets. So you get gentle dawns and lingering sunsets. Close to the poles a sunset can linger for as long as six-months.
Not so in New Delhi. Open your eyes in the morning, marvel at the dawn for approximately two minutes and bam! There is this huge orange ball of fire breathing down on you. Evening time, one moment you have the orange ball, blink, it is gone, Houdini like! No lingering goodbyes, no courtesy. Just a two-minute window to shoot sunset shots.
Here are the results of my assignment:
Shooting next to the President’s House is tricky. You are not supposed to park along the road. Every few-minutes a patrol car comes along. I timed my parking down to a nicety. Jumped a barrier, crossed the road and caught the sun just before it dipped behind the President’s House and Central Secretariat complex. Sprinted back to my idling car and drove away into the sunset. (Actually, peak rush hour traffic but there is no harm in pretending, is there?)
I always wanted to catch the Jama Masjid silhouetted against a setting sun. I took a rickshaw from the Chawri Bazaar metro station so that I could reach in time. Still, I almost did not make it. I had to literally run across the crowded meena bazaar at the footsteps of the mosque and clamber up to a vantage point to get one picture. And then, another. I celebrated by going to Karim’s next door and ordering kebabs and a tall glass of cold drink as my sun downer.
A few things this assignment taught me:
- In matters celestial, I am mostly wrong
- Photographers have a tough life
- I can run
- The kebabs at Karim’s are as delicious as ever.
I also looked up flickr for interesting New Delhi sunset shots; here are a few I liked: