Delhi, India. I walked with a friend to Jama Masjid, a famous Muslim mosque. I wanted to go inside and take pictures of the worshippers. I was a little wary. I wasn’t sure how people would react if I took photos in a holy place. It was about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and I was wearing shorts which made me even more self-conscious. Nonetheless, I was determined to take photographs in the Mosque.

It had slipped my mind that it is customary to remove one’s footwear before entering a mosque. I found a man who offered to take care of my footwear. I saw some interesting faces in the mosque, but could not summon the courage to photograph them while they were praying. I walked out, retrieved my shoes, paid the gentleman, and sat on the steps of the mosque, very disappointed with myself. The man who watched my shoes must have sensed this. He came over to me, and in a very gentle way, asked if I was okay. I was moved by his compassion and offered him more money. He replied, “I didn’t ask how you felt because I wanted money. You looked troubled, and I wanted to help.”. I told him how I could not gather the courage to take a photograph inside the mosque. He smiled and said, “Why don’t you take a picture of me?”

I looked at him for a few seconds and wondered how I had overlooked the most genuine face of all.