Kids off track

Chandan Khanna

"These are particularly interesting times to be a photojournalist in New Delhi, the heart of this fast-changing India. Everyday I get exposed to these new stories of people’s lives – their joys, struggles and the continuity even in midst of this unprecedented pace of change. Luckily my childhood love which turned into a lifetime passion and profession gives me a chance to capture these multiple ‘other’ worlds that exist around us.”

‘Kids “off” tracks’ is one such effort. It tries to present one of these many
hidden – actually, ignored – ‘other’ worlds in our midst.

The only other time the lives of these homeless young boys come under our society’s collective glare is when
they get into an unfortunate conflict with the law or something bad happens in their already miserable lives.
The few days that I spent with these boys on railway tracks around HazratNizamuddin station, in New Delhi,
 helped me peek into their lives: their daily struggle for the next meal, fears, anxieties and friendships.
I saw them take risks – jumping from and climbing-onto moving trains to scavenge or beg for leftover food.
I saw some steal a few chunks of coal from freight trains to ensure they could get through cold nights under a dark sky.
They battle for almost everything that we take for granted: a family, food, shelter, security and friendships.
Yet, as an outsider to their world I was truly amazed by the sparkle in their eyes. At how they could manage a smile and
find happiness in even the smallest of things: a friend accidentally stepping in a puddle of stagnant water,
a flickering street light or even an unusually strong wind during the day.

I hope that my lens was able to capture and give you a small peek into their effervescent lives.

Chandan Khanna- Media Awardee, National Foundation for India, 2014-15

Chandan Khanna is a photojournalist based in New Delhi, India working with Agence France-Presse. His Instagram feed features candid snapshots of life from across India. Out on the streets, he captures moments from the daily lives of Indians- from millionaires to vagrants, showcasing the multifaceted and highly varied portrait of India.