photo roll

A photographer captures the mood and style of Delhi’s working women

Vatsala Manan has been photographing passengers as they read, wait, dream and sleep on the Delhi Metro.

For some people, looking into their cellphones is a way to distract themselves from their surroundings. For others, like Vatsala Manan, a cellphone is a window into the lives of those who surround her.

Whenever she travels on the Delhi Metro, Manan does not listen to music or tune out. Instead, she photographs the passengers in the ladies’ compartment (mostly women, but also some #LonelyBoys) and shares the images on Instagram in a series.

The series, which began nearly a year ago, shows her subjects staring into their phones, reading books or lost in thought while waiting patiently for their station.

Image credit: Vatsala Manan
Image credit: Vatsala Manan

“It’s the best thing about the Metro,” Manan said. “There are all these working women who dress up in different ways. I like to think about how their day has been or what they do. Once I photographed a group of girls wearing chef’s coats. They were students of a culinary institute. For me, what women wear to work is endlessly interesting.”

Image credit: Vatsala Manan
Image credit: Vatsala Manan

A writer and photographer, Manan and her twin sister Vartika (along with their best friend) regularly conceptualise, shoot and star in photo features for online art magazines, including Tavi Gavinson’s Rookie Mag. Manan said she and her sister have always thought of the camera and photography as extensions of their lives, not something they consciously decided to do.

One time, Manan noticed three young women returning from a game of cricket held on the grounds of Gargi College. “They kept moving around,” she recalled. “I was not being able to take a picture and I really wanted to, so I went up to them and talked to them. They were very interested in the Instagram images and started following me too.”

Image credit: Vatsala Manan
Image credit: Vatsala Manan

“I try to never intrude into people’s personal space,” said Manan, referring to her subjects. “Sometimes I do think I’m being voyeuristic and that maybe I should ask them before taking their picture. If they do notice me taking their pictures, then I tell them what my Instagram handle is about and ask them if they would be alright with having their picture uploaded on social media. Most are quite happy to let me.”

Image credit: Vatsala Manan
Image credit: Vatsala Manan

Manan said her primary fascination is with women’s clothes, but the photographs convey more than just the pattern on a pair of tights or the twirl of a skirt. In most pictures, Manan’s subjects are immersed in their phones, oblivious to the rest of the world. She said this behaviour was not something she intended to document, but unwittingly, the series tells a story about the ways in which women occupy (and close themselves off from) public spaces in the city.

Inspired by the Instagram accounts of photographers David Luraschi and Ed Templeton, Manan said she would like to migrate her Metro series to its own Instagram handle soon – right now, she posts them under her own handle.

“Luraschi’s Instagram is all about photographing people on the streets of Paris and his shots are always taken from behind,” she said. “His handle is really quirky. Ed Templeton, on the other hand, posts a picture almost daily from the Huntington Beach Pier with the #DailyHBPierPhoto.”

The response Manan has received from her followers has been positive. “I have people messaging me that on their visit to Delhi, travelling in the Metro was another experience altogether because they have been following me on Instagram and have been seeing the metro in images,” she said.

Apart from the daily Metro series, Manan also shares gifs on a handle called Stars_From_Another_Sky, which is dedicated to women in Indian cinema.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

When house hunting is as easy as shopping for groceries

The supermarket experience comes to a sector where you least expected it.

The woes of a house hunter in India are many. The dreary process starts with circling classifieds in newspapers and collecting shiny brochures. You flip through the proposed and ready designs that launch a hundred daydreams on the spot. So far so good. But, every house hunter would attest to the soul-crushing experience of checking out a disappointing property.

The kitchen of a 2BHK is carved from the corner of the hall, the 3BHK is a converted 2BHK, the building looks much older than in the pictures…. after months of reading the fine line, and between the lines, you feel like all the diagrams and highlights seem to blur into each other.

After much mental stress, if you do manage to zero in on a decent property, there’s a whole new world of knowledge to be navigated - home loans to be sifted through, taxes to be sorted and a finance degree to be earned for understanding it all.

Do you wish a real estate platform would address all your woes? Like a supermarket, where your every need (and want) is catered to? Imagine all your property choices nicely lined up and arranged with neat labels and offers. Imagine being able to compare all your choices side by side. Imagine viewing verfied listings and knowing what you see is what you get. Imagine having other buyers and experts guiding you along every step while you make one of the most important investments in your life. Imagine...

MagicBricks has made every Indian house hunters’ daydream of a simplified real estate supermarket a reality. Now you have more than a pile of brochures at your disposal as the online real estate marketplace brings you lakhs of choices to your fingertips. Instead of bookmarking pages, you can narrow down your choices by area, budget, house type etc. Just so you aren’t hit by FOMO, you can always add a suburb you’ve been eyeing or an extra bedroom to your filter. But there’s more to a house than just floor space. On MagicBricks, you can check for good schools in the vicinity, a park for evening walks or at least an assured easier commute. Save time and energy by vetting properties based on the specs, pictures and floor plans uploaded and have all your niggling concerns addressed on the users’ forum.

Shortlisted a property? Great! No need to descend down another spiral of anxiety. Get help from reliable experts on MagicBricks on matters of legalities, home loans, investment, property worth etc. You can even avail their astrology and Vastu services to ensure an auspicious start to life in your new home or office. With its entire gamut of offerings, MagicBricks has indeed brought the supermarket experience to real estate in India, as this fun video shows below.


Get started with a simplified experience of buying, renting and selling property on MagicBricks here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of MagicBricks and not by the Scroll editorial team.