Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are meeting a Street sleeping man in Delhi, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Nothing can fully prepare you for India, but perhaps the one thing that best encaptulates this extraordinary country is its ability to inspire, frustrate, thrill and confound all at once. India is a one of the world's most multidimensional countries, presenting a wildly diverse spectrum of travel encounters. In this photo an Indian labourer is sleeping on a hand-pulled cart used to transport heavy materials in Delhi, India.
Nothing can fully prepare you for India, but perhaps the one thing that best encaptulates this extraordinary country is its ability to inspire, frustrate, thrill and confound all at once. India is a one of the world's most multidimensional countries, presenting a wildly diverse spectrum of travel encounters. In this photo an Indian labourer is sleeping on a hand-pulled cart used to transport heavy materials in Delhi, India.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 21, 2024

Street sleepers in Delhi

Through the many streets in Delhi you can easily find Delhi as a melting pot. You will hear a jumble of vernaculars spoken in Delhi, the most common being Hindi, English, Punjabi and Urdu. In terms of its layout Delhi encaptulates two very different worlds, the "old" and the "new", each presenting deliciously different experiences.

What is the purpose of sleep?

Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy and stave off diseases. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly.

The sleeping men of Delhi
Delhi, the bustling capital city of India, is known for its vibrant culture, delicious food and rich history. However, amidst all the chaos and hustle-bustle of the city, there is a group of people who remain unnoticed and often forgotten – the sleeping men of Delhi. If you wander on the streets of Delhi, especially in the early hours of the morning, you will find several men peacefully sleeping on the footpaths, under the flyovers or at the entrance of metro stations. These are the daily wage workers, rickshaw pullers, security guards and many others who cannot afford a proper place to sleep. Most of these men come from impoverished backgrounds and have migrated to Delhi in search of better job opportunities.

With the ever-increasing population and rising living expenses, it has become a challenge for them to afford even the basic necessities, let alone a place to sleep. Therefore, they resort to sleeping on the streets, where they are exposed to harsh weather conditions, noise pollution and the danger of being robbed or harassed.

Lack of proper housing and the high cost of living in Delhi
These things are the primary reasons for the increasing number of sleeping men in Delhi. The skyrocketing rent prices, especially in the urban areas, make it almost impossible for these men to afford a decent place to stay. Moreover, as most of them work on daily wages, they do not have a stable income to support themselves and their families, forcing them to take shelter on the streets. Apart from financial limitations, societal norms and stereotypes also play a significant role in the neglect of these sleeping men.

"Society often associates sleeping on the streets with laziness and lack of ambition, completely disregarding the harsh realities these men face. The lack of empathy and understanding from the general public further alienates these men, making it challenging for them to find better living conditions"

A vital role in the functioning of the city
While the sleeping men of Delhi may seem invisible to most, they play a vital role in the functioning of the city. They are the ones who clean the streets, deliver newspapers, and do several odd jobs that keep the city running. Yet, they remain unnoticed and unappreciated. The government has implemented various initiatives to provide shelter to the homeless in Delhi. Programs like 'Shelter for Homeless' and 'Protect the Homeless' have been introduced to provide night shelters and essential facilities like food, medical care and sanitation to the homeless population.

However, these initiatives can only accommodate a small percentage of the street dwellers, leaving many without a place to sleep. It is high time that we, as a society, start acknowledging the struggles of these sleeping men and take the necessary steps to improve their living conditions. The government should focus on affordable housing schemes and increase the number of night shelters in the city. Additionally, NGOs and individuals can come forward to provide support and resources to these men, helping them to lead a better life. In conclusion, the sleeping men of Delhi symbolize the darker side of the city – one that often goes unnoticed and unaddressed. It is time for us to recognize their existence and work towards creating a more inclusive and compassionate society where no one has to sleep on the streets. Let us not forget the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "- A society will be judged by how it treats its weakest members".

Sleeping on the streets in India
The sight of homeless people sleeping on the streets of our cities is a devastating reminder of the immense inequality that exists in our society. Unfortunately, street sleeping is a growing problem in cities around the world. Street sleepers are people who have no fixed address and sleep outdoors, usually on the streets and many of these people are struggling with mental illness, substance abuse or Poverty and have nowhere else to go and they often have to sleep in public places such as parks, bus stops and alleyways and they are exposed to the elements and vulnerable to physical and verbal abuse.

"Street sleepers are the most vulnerable members of our communities and they face extreme levels of poverty, homelessness and social exclusion. They often lack access to basic services such as health care, education and employment. As a result, they are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, mental health issues and other health-related problems"

Causes of street sleeping
The causes of street sleeping are complex and varied and poverty and homelessness are the two most common causes. Other factors include mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence and lack of access to affordable housing. To address this growing problem, we need to develop effective strategies to help street sleepers. This includes providing access to basic services such as health care, education and employment. We also need to increase access to affordable housing and other forms of support. Finally, we need to raise awareness of the issue and provide adequate resources to tackle it.

Street sleepers are a reminder of the immense inequality that exists in our society. We need to work together to ensure that everyone has access to the basic services they need. Only then can we ensure that everyone has a safe place to sleep. Taking a nap can have a variety of benefits. For one, it can help reduce stress and anxiety by giving your body and mind a chance to rest and reset. Taking a nap can also improve your alertness and concentration throughout the day, allowing you to be more productive and efficient. Finally, a nap can help improve your mood, allowing you to take on the rest of your day with a refreshed and positive attitude.

Hand-pulled carts in India

As you see in the picture above the man is sitting on a hand-pulled cart which is made of wood. Hand-pulled carts are a part of the pulled rickshaws which is a mode of human-powered transport by which a runner draws a two-wheeled cart which seats one or two people. In recent times the use of human-powered rickshaws has been discouraged or outlawed in many countries due to concern for the welfare of rickshaw workers. Pulled rickshaws have been replaced mainly by cycle rickshaw and auto rickshaws.

India's working population
The photographer took the portrait of the sleeping man in Delhi. The sleeping man and worker is part of the unorganised sector in India. Over 94 percent of India's working population is part of the unorganised sector. In local terms, organised sector or formal sector in India refers to licensed organisations, that is, those who are registered and pay sales tax, income tax and so on. These include the publicly traded companies, incorporated or formally registered entities, corporations, factories, shopping malls, hotels and large businesses. Unorganised sector, also known as informal sector or own account enterprises, refers to all unlicensed, self-employed or unregistered economic activity such as owner manned general stores, handicrafts and handloom workers, rural traders, farmers and so on.

India's has classified the unorganised labour in India into 4 groups. This classification categorized India's unorganised labour force by occupation, nature of employment, specially distressed categories and service categories and the unorganised occupational groups include small and marginal farmers, landless agricultural labourers, share croppers, fishermen, those engaged in animal husbandry, 'Beedi' rolling, labeling and packing, building and construction workers, leather workers, weavers, artisans, salt workers, workers in brick kilns and stone quarries, workers in saw mills and workers in oil mills.

A separate category based on nature of employment includes attached agricultural labourers, bonded labourers, migrant workers, contract and casual labourers. Another separate category dedicated to distressed unorganised sector includes toddy tappers, scavengers, carriers of head loads, drivers of animal driven vehicles, loaders and unloaders.

"The last unorganised labour category in India includes service workers such as midwives, domestic workers, barbers, vegetable and fruit vendors, newspaper vendors, pavement vendors, hand cart operators and the unorganised retails"

Street sleeping photographed in India
Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind and body, characterized by altered consciousness, relatively inhibited sensory activity, inhibition of nearly all voluntary muscles and reduced interactions with surroundings. It is distinguished from wakefulness by a decreased ability to react to stimuli, but more reactive than disorders of consciousness, sleep displaying very different and active brain patterns. In some societies, people sleep with at least one other person and sometimes many or with animals. In other cultures, people rarely sleep with anyone except for an intimate partner.

In almost all societies, sleeping partners are strongly regulated by social standards. For instance, a person might only sleep with the immediate family, the extended family, a spouse or romantic partner, children, children of a certain age, children of specific gender, peers of a certain gender, friends, peers of equal social rank or with no one at all. Sleep may be an actively social time, depending on the sleep groupings, with no constraints on noise or activity.

See this video about street photography in India made by Photography Educators.

The photographer's own experience of seeing the street sleepers in Delhi
"- As I continued my exploration, I came across a group of street sleepers huddled together under a bridge. I decided to stop and talk to them, hoping to understand their situation better. What I discovered was a heartbreaking truth – these people were once like you and me, with dreams and aspirations. But due to unfortunate circumstances, they had ended up living on the streets. Many of the street sleepers in Delhi were once employed, but due to the lack of affordable housing and job opportunities, they were forced to sleep on the streets and some societies in India display a fragmented sleep pattern in which people sleep at all times of the day as with this photograph from India and night for shorter periods", the Photographer says.

"- As I spent more time with these street sleepers, I realized that they were not just a statistic, but real people with families and emotions. They were eager to share their stories and invite me into their makeshift homes under the open sky. Their resilience and positivity despite their living conditions left a lasting impression on me. However, I also witnessed the harsh treatment they received from society. Many people walked past them, completely ignorant of their existence, while some even hurled insults and kicked their belongings. I couldn't help but feel ashamed and guilty for being a part of a society that turns a blind eye to their suffering"
, the Photographer says again.

"- As a traveler, I've always been fascinated by the diverse cultures and lifestyles in different countries. So when I planned my trip to India, I was excited to explore the chaotic yet vibrant streets of Delhi. However, little did I know that my journey would also open my eyes to the harsh reality of street sleepers in the city. On my first day in Delhi, as I navigated through the bustling streets, I couldn't help but notice the large numbers of people sleeping on the sidewalks. They were curled up on tattered blankets, their belongings scattered around them, with no shelter or protection from the scorching sun. I was immediately struck by a sense of sadness and helplessness"
, the Photographer says again.

"- Being a travel photographer in India also comes with its own set of challenges. The extreme living conditions, language barriers and chaotic traffic can be overwhelming at times. But these challenges only made my experiences in India more memorable and rewarding. I've been fortunate enough to document the beauty and diversity of India through my photographs. It is a country that has captured my heart and I'm sure it will captivate any traveler who visits. As a travel photographer, I've learned to appreciate the little moments and the hidden gems that make India truly special. Through my photographs, I hope to inspire others to explore this incredible country and experience its magic for themselves", the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Colorful India

Colorful India

Read also:  Colorful India

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a sleeping man in Delhi. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.