(Herald Tribune) - For an uninitiated Westerner, making your way to one of this city's new art galleries can be a disorienting study in contrasts. In the crowded streets behind the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, where the air is heavy with the smell of gasoline and flowers, you are approached by women begging for money and food. Men shout invitations to enter their carpet shops or purchase wares like watches, magazines, leather jackets and cigarettes.
Then, from a narrow thoroughfare, you enter a courtyard where an old man sits wearing a black security uniform. He speaks no English but, when asked for directions, points toward a flight of wood stairs so worn they are bowed in the middle. At the top, a door is opened by a barefoot woman in a scarlet sari. Behind her is an art gallery as white and sleek as any space in Chelsea.
These contradictions do not arise from any calculated exoticism.