All posts filed under: A Photo-Ethnographic Study

When I Wrote My First Poem After Seeing the Sea in Odisha: A Visual Diary from Shri Jagannath Puri- The East Indian Coast

I am a north Indian Man. And seeing the sea myself was once like coming out of the shadow towards the the sunny side. Like etching a line on wood. Films were arriving as a means of profession and friends. My earliest memory of train, freedom and words. With myself even, when few of us friends decided to attend a Film Festival in Odisha. Far away on the eastern Coast of India, in the temple town of Puri; that i had only heard in sanskrit verses then. But what those verses didn’t mention was the laid back beach and evening onwards to late night film screenings with winds coming from the Bay of Bengal and the unending background music that arrived from one wave and after. It was a journey of a lifetime as the train took close to 3 days to reach Puri. Trains used to look and sound different. They looked shabby, sounded noisy and felt god forsaken as we can only feel now. My friend on the journey reading through the endless …

30 Moments that I was Grateful for in 2022: Last Visual Notes of the Year

January of 2023 is going to get over today. And for once I wanted to take out time to examine my last year’s archives before new year starts finding ways to create new journeys, i desired to assemble together those times; Journeys, though only handful they were, to keep them safe, here and create a reason to keep coming back, whenever needed to smile, over and over. Hence for one last time before we leave it all to memory and ongoing Life: One memory which will roam for long is going to be the death of my grandmother, and the times spent in the village along the river Ganges Mother posing on the roof of an Ashram, on the banks of Ganga in Haridwar was a memorable time. THE JOURNEY TO KASAR TEMPLE – ALMORA The first assignment came to document the sacred Kasar Devi Temple in Almora and finding a new home there like my own family, where we took a detour to visit a remarkable museum dedicated to Govind Ballabh Pant in Almora …

Lost In Yellow: Visual Notes of Evenings Spent Wandering Along River Yamuna and Old Delhi

Much like Lost in Translation I had been wandering, walking for a Research Project in Delhi; One of the great historic cities of the world and spans some 10 centuries of its past. Understanding, observing Delhi is both exciting and challenging. Delhi has had a rich urban past, and what is particularly interesting is the fact that at different points of time several different sites were chosen by various powers/dynasties to found new settlements or cities. Most of them are in ruins but what is important to learn about it is that all even today are accessible. One of them is yesteryears Shahjahanabad, today’s Old Delhi. Shahjahanabad has been subsumed under the gigantic sprawl of metropolitan Delhi. Yet it has an identity that is distinct from any other. Popularly known as Chandni Chowk or Old Delhi, its name conjures up romantic narrow streets named after almost every thing on earth; maze like with a variety of street food and exotic markets. But my exploration is not completely about Delhi, its heritage or food but it …

About Kashmir, A Tale of Keepers and Rowing a Shikara to a Friend’s Wedding in Lake Dal Srinagar

Learning how to row was the most profound, useful as much as useless, but one hypnotic skill that arrived at one point in my life. I was living with the Huns, a houseboat community in Dal Lake. The boat in general is called Shikara in Kashmiri. And Rowers were called Keepers, an English word. And perhaps it was this word that lured me to become one; a keeper. The one who keeps. Kashmir; the most beautiful valley on Earth. Not because it is pretty but perhaps the most complex. Also, the most militarised one, around that time. The aura of violence and terror was ever present in everyday Kashmiri life. When the valley was going through its longest curfew of their existence, I was there, walking, documenting the flatlands of Srinagar and hiking up the Harvan Mountains, even finding my way to the Mahadev Rock in the Pir Panjals while also finding myself bathing in the waters of the river Lidder, formerly Lambodarini and the mighty Indus. I was learning to live with the birds …

A Visual Diary Of a Day In My Village

I do not live in my village. Neither I get to spend time there any more. But there are days when the news comes like the fresh winds after Rains. That grandfather is calling. He turned 101 this month. And well who knows he could be even more or less as there was no way to document it in those days. On paper he was born in 1921. Rains. Photography has become like that elusive rain for me. I have stopped photographing like I used to. I do not use any of my three cameras and 8 old-world manual Nikon lenses anymore, that I had carefully and proudly bought. It was through my 20mm and 35mm lenses that I taught myself to photograph day in and day out. To an extent I always felt a sense of belongingness that they knew what I want to see every single moment and day of my outing with them. But times strangely changed or did I? More after I started using ‘Road to Nara’- my blog as a …

A Celebration for the Sun: A Brief History of Chhath in Paintings and Images

I had not decided to celebrate today. But nature pulled me in. For last few months I had been parallel-y working on a project in New Delhi. Rather it is my expression on Climate Change living in a region which in itself is an extension of extremism in most ways. For one it is making our lives vulnerable to diseases here, viruses, climate catastrophes in terms of pollution and per square population density, in the National Capital Region. Working on a project such as this has taken my breath, my life in a way that I sometimes remunerate myself a quote that Andrei Tarkovsky used to say on ‘Cinema requiring sacrificing of yourself. That You should belong to it, it shouldn’t belong to you. Cinema uses your life, not vice versa. In all ways, i have proved him right, without making much progress. On a whim last night I and team decided to visit the Yamuna river early morning as mist has started to settle over the flowing water. We walked till noon to film the …

The Last Journey to Ganga and Scenes from my Ancestral Village : A Photographic Essay

Visiting Grand Parents used to be the only time when the Joy of having many umbrellas multiplied the possibilities of games, laughter and Humour. But one day without any knock, or warning grandmother died an exceptionally unusual death. All those years the perception that I carried of association, I could never feel it again towards my birth home, my birth courtyard, after grandmother was gone. No sense of belonging. My village had started to look congested. May be that was why parents must have left it. In 1982. On the mud terrace of our ancestral home, fragrance of cow-dung cakes still brings to my mind the nostalgia of my grandmother cleaning the courtyard every morning. Even before the sun would rise; while telling me with love to keep sleeping. Upla* are still used for cooking and cleaning. And just last week were also used for lighting the pyre of my uncle. Father’s eldest brother. Death of a family pillar changes a lot of dimension. For one It brings overwhelming, repulsive, abominable silence in homes. I …

Life Of Verrier Elwin: Past and the Present Of the Tribal Cultures In Central India: A Photo-ethnographic Essay

Elwin’s research work in India took place at a critical period leading up to the Indian Independence from British rule. Verrier Elwin first met Mahatma Gandhi in 1928 at his ashram in Ahmedabad, where he had gone to represent the Christa Seva Sangh at the International Fellowship of Religions. Gandhi’s philosophy of satyagrah  as non-violent resistance against the colonial rule had a strong impact on Elwin and he were drawn into the national movement for Independence. However, as he became more deeply involved in the welfare of the community that he lived with, in central India, he began to question the relevance of Gandhi’s severe views on prohibition, celibacy and vegetarianism for that environment. In his autobiography he wrote. “long letter from Mahatma Gandhi urging me to perform daily yagna or sacrifice, of spinning; as no one here for hundreds of miles has ever seen a spinning wheel, decide not to, but suggest rice pudding as a daily sacrifice instead. Elwin’s personal reassertion of loyalty and identity was unequivocal. At a time when most of …