About me

Hello, Welcome on the Road to Nara ! My name is Narayan Kaudinya. I am an Ethnographer and an Indologist. I write, and work as a filmmaker and Photographer.

: ँ : Nara means ‘water’ and ayana is the way or ‘home.’ And I welcome you to my home where you will find my days into words. And my eyes in Images and moving picture. DSC_1027

In 2012, leaving most things, primarily an urban life, job and ambition, i took up working as a teacher in far away regions of Kashmir and Baltistan. And later in the Indian mainland states of Punjab, Haryana and in various regions of Rajasthan. During this time i was involved with children, their families and local folk, observing and archiving their oral histories, documenting the journey altogether. During the times i extensively wrote about education and the ways of developing children minds through arts, culture and environment. While understanding life myself, outside of me as much within.

In 2015, the story of indigenous Balti tribes was published in Yale Journal of International Affairs

In 2016, a story was featured on my journey of being a teacher in the Himalayas

naggar My Journey  I was born in a village, near river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, India. And was brought to Delhi soon after. I grew up in the Capital. Yet i always carried the sound of my birth river, of peacocks and the sight of an ancient well that was just outside the door of our home in the village. Strangely it was dry, “a bad omen”, so said my grandmother, on the day i was born. Growing up in a family of teachers seemed to have more limitations but gradually became the founding guardians for the life ahead. School finished and against family wishes i got involved in performing and fine arts, reading, literature and Writing. It was then i had started observing life as a photographer. And gradually as i travelled and understood the domains, importance and richness of my land bharata, India- i pursued my masters in History. And went on to study Sanskritam and Yog thereafter. But to run a life in a capitalistic society that parents wished i kept writing and took up jobs as a researcher and assistant to professors that were mainly confined to offices, home and outside/inside libraries. I worked with media houses like The Hindu, Outlook Traveller, The Indian Express, Times of India and India Today, but something never felt like evolving.
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An old image of my north-Indian bike journey on my good old Pulsar

A time arrived. I had saved enough and decided to travel India on my 150cc Bike. It was in that journey a person found me at a lonely little petrol pump waiting in line to fill water bottle that changed the course and the meaning of my life then. I took up teaching and for next three years travelled throughout and in the most remote little villages of the Himalayas, and far deep in the Karakoram ranges, In remote regions of Kashmir, and later in the mainland- Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan teaching children. It was still that time when phones were not smart and connectivity hadn’t still reached places. Memories were still out of reach from the timelines of Social media, instead was kept purely as food for own souls.
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On the final day with my 2012 class in the northern-most Indian region of Baltistan.

A Brief history of my Life on the Road There was a time when I did not like traveling in trains as I felt they were one track. Even though they made me see villages, forests and fields, yet they always seemed far. Dislike for trains can also be attributed to the hazy memories i have of my  grandfather, he was a train driver, and many a times took me on over night journeys; looking at the world, sitting in big noisy engine compartments with lollypop handles. So, when i grew up I took long distance buses, one state to another. From Delhi to Madhya Pradesh, to Maharashtra, Goa to Calcutta and a few times back. Travelling in them, many a times alone throughout night on the state highways going through forests, was somehow never assuring that I would reach the right place, but one thing was that I felt nearer to the road, at home around villagers travelling in buses. And after sometime soon it wasn’t exciting anymore.
DSC_0462

On a bus somewhere in Maharashtra on the way to Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

I remember the first time I got down from a bus desperately, somewhere on the National Highway in Maharashtra to travel in a truck going to Delhi. Afraid, yet dared to ask passing by truck drivers if they can allow me to get going with them, many refused, but this young truck driver, allowed me in the cabin. He was going till Udaipur but what happened in that journey,  made that hitchhike an eternity, and left on me an impression which i still carry lightly. I am an Ancient person. I believe in the presence of the past in our present lives. I have been a disciplined traveller in a way but i like to stay around the earthliness of a country. To go inside villages, finding out about a community documenting old rituals, folk tales and rural weddings. If you consider Indian Subcontinent having a mix of the right amount of rough and old. I love it. FullSizeRender-7.1 This is the first instance where i am spending time writing, a blog. I thought what would i do if all memories only remain inside me, i would burst into pieces from just the mere weight of carrying them around, i decided to write. Because once this body drops, I would like some of my experiences to live on to see future sunsets. ँ I have lived and worked in high intensity conflict zones, walked literally on the roof of the world, for 8 days through the mighty Karakoram ranges. I have crisscrossed India on a 150cc bike four times. Lived through a Silent Massacre; people killing countless, innumerable maybe a slaughter of over a lac animal; seeing fields turning red with blood at a fair in southern Nepal. There came a night, where i was asked to and somehow uncomfortably managed to drive a sixteen-tyre truck from Pune to Udaipur on a hitchhike gone strangeDuring a fellowship in Cambodia i cycled through her countryside recording the banned songs of the father with the golden voice of Cambodia, by a Cambodian Organisation. Learnt rowing a local boat/shikara, while living through the longest curfew period in the history of Kashmir; doing which i became so good that i started ferrying locals from land to their respective houseboats, where in the meantime I and team were able to make a cult, much appreciated web series of six short episodes Live from Kashmir; Paradise Waiting 301678_10150424322899878_1900953848_n Ways of Being There are no secret ways to travel but one, though for completely non-mandatory reasons. Other wise seekers, when they decide and go out after their way, the way appears. I have always travelled by myself, apart from organisational assignments where a team is required like our first experimental film Bongu, set in the isolated mountains of Karakorams, Baltistan, which was premiered in the first Laddakh International Film Festival or likewise many other assignments. But the first ever Balti film happened while we were teaching in Turtuk, Baltistan. We taught kids in the morning, and worked on the film in the night. DSC00380.1 Like Roald Dahl’s famous book “Going Solo”, i absolutely love and prescribe people to understand the importance of travelling solo. Having observed myself on the hard road for more than ten years, there is no other way i feel about it. Also, Having been living with the ways of the world quietly, listening to the winds, leaves and trees in communion, looking at and hearing people patiently and still letting it be are some traits that are slowly earned, though late they certainly arrive like juicy apricots in harsh winters. I use local transport or best i look out for a bike, finding off the map or off the track home accommodation. I carry my own utensils, a copper bottle; refilling water from homes or natural sources. Over all, all my travelling life i have tried to become a bridge between rural and urban economies. One essential thing that i deeply feel helped me survive peacefully, in less means and in any given environment is being a vegetarian. Somehow i managed to never grow an intent to eat any animal, bird or insects. Like most travellers, i have had my awkward moments and tough times of expressing it in a way, of not offending anyone; But i have done it and a few ones have been offended too or so i feel. But Looking back now passing through what all happened i consider this the only magic; because of reasons that go way deeper than merely eating. I have spent majority of my travelling life in meat eating societies, and i feel not only i saved a few animals from earth but kept my unasked vow intact. FullSizeRender-5 Being inherently an educator, over all the past travelling years wherever i stayed; i made sure to visit a nearby school to see the education system or to just have a conversation with the local teachers. Sometimes I offered a talk, a small workshop on the importance of Yog and breathing as body science, simple ideas of storytelling and visual communication. I make it happen also because i have always felt this to be my responsibility to pass on, may be motivate or at least put a thought of hope and love in children. I believe It is an unconditional necessity to recognise the importance of you being there, representing a whole mankind who has been travelling, understanding the world, to these children who might never be able to go beyond their village or state. And because of this i have been fortunate to meet hundreds of children and teachers from all around the country. IMG_2137-2 In my abilities, as i run a small school myself with my mother; i have tried to put my views across at any given place on the importance of primary education years as foundational pillars for children. I remember one of the quotes i heard once while listening to Khushwant singh’s interview that “to make your children, tomorrow’s responsible adults, make sure to read them three R’s, and they were R.K Laksman, Roald Dahl and Ruskin Bond.” When i come back to Delhi, i look after a primary school for children  with my mother for the underprivileged community here that we started in 2008.  here Speaking with Sai, an Indian data scientist in the US, who was visiting India, while bathing in the river Tungabhadra
DO WRITE You know, It always feels great to hear from you, artists, fellow travellers, friends, photographers, writers, bloggers, Now when you have read some tidbits of my life story, i invite and welcome you to write, say, ask anything that you may have thought or felt. It would be lovely to hear from you, more so in these times when there are only celestial beings to look at. You can share and write to me at – narayankaudinya@gmail.com You may also like, only if, you’d like to be a fellow traveller, through many small, every day journeys that i keep posting from assignments, film or photographic works on Instagram, Or may be closer still on Facebook or even my newer explorations on Twitter – feels better at times to meet outside the domains of work, right!  : ँ : Once when things shall give way to the brighter days, i would like to invite you all to our small school. If any one of you are interested in holding a workshop, share stories, artworks, experiences or even want to screen a film, you are heartily welcome. If any child can learn and get inspired from you, It can be a whole new him for life. IMG_2016 If you are a foreigner reading this, imagining and deciding on coming to Bharat/India; and would like to know, have some questions, are inquisitive, on things relating to where, what, how – about seeing, travelling, trekking in India, on a Civilizational or a spiritual quest, about her ancientness, traditions, region; you must write. I will be happy to read from you and will guide you in your journey wherever you want it to be lead to- in exchange of your time given, sharing your stories and experiences with our school children in Delhi. If you are a media house, a travel organisation, a publishing house, tourism board, working in education, interested in collaborating on creative writing, fiction, non-fiction projects, film or Photographic assignments, please visit my Work with me page. : ँ : You may also like to go through some of my extensive long-term Socio-Political Photographic Book Projects at Narayan Tushar Kaudinya. Thank you so much for being here, and i hope that you will come along as my Fellow-Traveller, here on the Road to Nara !

142 Comments

  1. Travelling is definitely more than just the some of the physical distance we travel and the things we see while we are travelling. It is what we experience while we are in motion and the wonderful people we get to know while we are doing it.

    Thank you for sharing so much of your story in such a relatable way. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hamish, thank you so much, you have been a delight to me with your words here, you know i felt time and again that the most important aspect while in motion, while travelling for long and for days is sleep. It is sleep that adds tremendously to our experiences, which is almost out of our control but plays a vital, vital character in building it.

      And ofcourse there are many other aspects that we keep building.

      Thank you so much again Hamish.
      Nara x

      Liked by 1 person

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