Delhi, Saturday august 20, 2016.
This morning I’m meeting with 10 other women who are also attending the wedding. We are leaving for the Old Delhi at 7am to meet with a former street child who now makes a living as a tour guide.
After a 45 minute-walk and 30 minutes spent on the tube, we finally reach the Great Mosque where the meeting is taking place.
Our guide is already here. His name is Siba and he is 19. His face breaks into a radiant smile when he sees us.
Siba asks us where we are from. France, UK, US, Chili, Germany, Singapore, Italy, Spain. All those countries are fascinating, he says, and he hopes to visit all of them one day.
After a short introduction, we are ready to start the tour. Two of his friends, Ismael et Jamal, are also here.
For three hours, Siba shows us various temples and religious sites. He also tells us the story of this place, which once concentrated some of the most famous theatres, schools and shops of the country.
We take the time to look at every building, every tree, every statue. We stare at every detail, read every inscription on the walls and ask hundreds of questions.
During the tour, Siba also mentions the daily life of the locals. He talks about their living conditions and the difficulty to find a decent job. But, he doesn’t want us to feel sorry for them and he immediately tells us that some are actually doing well for themselves.
To prove it, Siba takes us to a sewing workshop where a dozen of men are embroiling large pieces of silk. Their monthly salary? Around 300 euros, 500 for the most senior ones.
The salaries are not « bad » by local standards, Siba says. In any case, what really drives these men is the pride they take in their work; A work that is recognized across the world.
During her last visit to India in 2015, Michelle Obama wore a dress that was sewed and embroiled in this workshop. Siba introduces us to the man who made the dress and tells us that he is a celebrity here.
The man doesn’t pay attention to us. He simply keeps his head down in a sign of humility and continues to work on the piece of fabric he is embroiling.
We take a few photos and leave the workshop. These men contribute to the survival and transmission of embroidery and continue the rich heritage of craftsmanship that has made the reputation of India, Siba says.
We walk a few hundreds of yards and stop to grab a coffee. Siba offers us some water.
It’s almost noon now and the heat outside is unbearable. We have already walked for a while but the tour is not over yet.
We climb into toucs-toucs, make a quick stop by the spice market and, go to the last stop.