The waiting room

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Apr 28 2013

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Category: Asia, India

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Aperture:f/3.5
Focal Length:26.2mm
Shutter:1/0 sec

In spite of the wide open iron grid doors, the “welcome” poster on the wall doesn’t look like an altogether superfluous encouragement for possible visitors stepping over the threshold of this waiting room. The contrast between place and poster must have struck me as strangely funny when I passed here on the staircase. Hence this photo.

The little row of slippers, feet and legs that is visible on the right betrays the presence of a few waiting clients. Waiting for what I don’t know. The scene must be in an office of some sort. In the wall in the back we see a half open door to a desk room, but an official or peon is nowhere to be seen.

The indifferent and – indeed – unwelcome atmosphere of the place is not uncommon for simple offices in India. But what catches the eye here is how clean and tidy the room is, especially the landing in front. I would have expected it to be very much worse.

The waiting room in the photo may be ominously empty, but anyone who has ever set foot in the public rooms and areas in an Indian government office knows that an entirely different sight is usually the case. We are overwhelmed by rows and rows of heaped up, dusty files. The sight can be so amazing and is so typically Indian, that Dayanita Singh considered it a good subject for a work of art. It was shown at Illuminazioni, the 54th Biennale of Venice in 2011.

DSC00536 Dayanita Singh (Delhi) File Room - Copy for blog

File Room (detail) by Dayanita Singh, exposed at Illuminazioni, the 54th Biennale of Venice, 2011

Photo of the week: Goa, India, 2002

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