Jama Masjid Mosque, in Old Delhi, New Delhi, India

Exploration in the Darkness

This darkened space
Inside a world unknown to me
Unfamiliar, as religion
Unfamiliar, as culture
Mystery, riddle, enigma

Intricate details
Inlaid in stone walls
Indicate a beauty
And subtlety
Beckoning exploration

I wonder
In this darkened space I share
Which are the believers
Which are the tourists
Which are the gawkers
Which are the haters
Which are the explorers
And which will I choose to be

Jama Masjid Mosque
Old Delhi
New Delhi, India

Taken during travels, 2017

Jama Masjid, completed in 1656, is among India’s largest mosques. Its dome and minarets rise above Old Delhi’s skyline of tightly packed buildings, which are generally no more than 5 stories high. It is situated in the midst of Chandni Chowk bazaar, meaning it is literally surrounded by anything you might want to buy, so long as you are willing to wander the narrow alleys, as densely packed with human beings as bags of spice, jewelry, silk, saris, electronics…

I will leave the choice to explore up to you. Perhaps, begin with answering this question: in the photograph, is the camera facing east, west, north or south?

Oh, and I want to make this emphatically clear: darkness in this poem refers only to the low light in the room, and my still rather shallow grasp of Islam and the many cultures of its followers.