Photographer and blogger Brandon Stanton of the globally popular 'Humans of New York' blog and Facebook page was in Delhi on Friday and the humans of Delhi just couldn't get enough of him.
"For those of you in Delhi who want to say hello, I'll be in Central Park, Connaught Place at 6pm" — this post by Stanton on his Facebook page resulted in a crowd of more than a thousand people by 5pm.
Stanton, wearing a blue shirt, a colourful stole and an infectious smile, started by telling how he takes pictures of random strangers and gets them to tell him their incredible stories. "I always approach them from the front and take their permission before taking photographs," he said.
When he first started taking pictures of people in New York in 2010, he didn't always seek permission but does so know since the page and blog have become very popular.
Stanton is on a two-month world tour in partnership with the United Nations since August this year and has already visited Iraq, Jordan, Congo, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Ukraine before arriving in India. His Indian sojourn began with a trip to Jammu, where his first click was that of a grandfather sitting on a cot with his grandson. The post says 'We are praying for the souls of our ancestors'.
Delhi was his next pit stop and he visited the India Gate lawns and then Central Park in Connaught Place.
As the crowd swelled, Stanton said he will take a group picture and asked everyone to gather for the photograph. It was then that a few Delhi Police personnel arrived at the spot, and started asking who he was and why a crowd had gathered. As they asked "Who is he with?", the crowd responded almost in unison — "He is with all of us!"
Things went a little out of control from there as Stanton started running towards his car, and the crowd began running after him with many girls screaming "Brandon we love you!". The melee attracted even a larger number of onlookers who had no idea about what or who they were looking at.
"A fire has broken out in the Palika Bazaar," said a man in the crowd and soon people were looking over their shoulders to locate the smoke and the fire. Many in the crowd whipped out their mobile phones to take pictures of the 'celebrity' and mobbed the car Stanton had gotten into.
"Arre bhai kaun aaya hai? Salman Khan hai kya? (Who is it? Is it Salman Khan?)," asked one, only to get this gem of an answer: "Bata rahe hain Bradman aaya hai (They are saying Bradman has come)."
There was unruly behaviour too as some men tried to grope girls in the crowd. Some miscreants were caught and beaten up on the spot. Finally, around 6.10pm, Stanton's car managed to move out.
'Thanks to all of you who came to the meet-up in Delhi. It went about as well as a spontaneous meet-up could possibly go. Amazingly, we were able to have a pretty organised, calm speech. Until the very end, of course, when we ran from the police', said Stanton's post in the Humans of New York Facebook page.