For four weeks, I was a teacher assistant for undergraduate students in India, where they investigated Khirki Village, an urban village within New Delhi. On the first day exploring the village, several students and I came across a small alley where a man was plucking a chicken in his shop: a folding table with a tented ceiling outside on the street.
Young kids from the alleyway were gathered around to watch the action, and upon seeing us, the foreigners, their eyes grew at all the surrounding spectacles.
I was struck by the children’s curiosity and timid openness to us. I was particularly drawn to the presence of the older girl on the left side of this photo, by herself amidst a sea of boys. I perceived her as strong because she was the only girl I had seen out by herself – typically, the streets are full of boys and men, which you can see round out the rest of this frame. The girl’s relaxed posture and focus on the real excitement – the defeathering of the chicken – made me intrigued by her. I felt she was courageous even though we hadn’t exchanged a single word.
Seeing her made me reflect on my own upbringing as a girl in the west, where freedom to roam and play independently, safely, was a given. After I took this photo, she remained focused on the man plucking the chicken, as though the scene around her, and us, were just passing.