Thursday, November 24, 2016

An unravelling tale...

- An Introduction

I visit Pushkar quite often for Cattle fair- the mela, I have a certain fondness for the place. It keeps calling me back and I feel at home here.
I'm intrigued by the people, not the original inhabitants as much .. but rather those who have wound their way here to call it home. Back in design school my room-mate had been in boarding school at the neighbouring city, Ajmer, Pushkar's a stone's throw away; she would describe it to me mesmerisingly. Bob Marley rang out in the streets and li'l white kids trotted alongside their mothers who carried pots of water on their heads like the village folk.

It was this complete blend of the goras and India, rural goras, who spoke marwari hindi, dressed more traditional than the natives and knew the intricacies of our culture with a clear questioning eye.  The integration of the foreigner and the openness of the local is a fascinating blend. What is understood by an 'angrej' (foreigner/white skinned person) is translated to an urban Indian with the same air since western influence allows comprehension with logical reasoning. Indian culture is so complex that it could take many lifetimes to logically understand each minute detail, so we're told 'follow the grown ups' or 'just do it, don't question' .. it has taken me much unlearning from my convent mould to understand this.

I love to travel by myself; every once in a while I'd share an 'Italian' coffee with a fellow traveller at Salim & Nizam's Honey Dew Cafe this is where one usually meets the 'rural goras'.  
One such person who arrested my attention since a couple of visits was a rustic looking man in authentic local costume, his features seemed those of a Sikh, but his garb? No Sikh would dress like that. I have a discerning eye for culture, textiles and detail which makes me dig for origins, he for one was a mystery. Now now now, who was he, was a mystery needed unravelling.

Every time I'd see him pace up and down the market place I'd quickly try and absorb all the elements of this interestingly dressed man. One morning at breakfast two years ago I  heard Italian at the next table. I turned to look and there he was! I broke into a smile as I love Italian .. it's music to my ears. I still didn't have the courage to accost him, perhaps it would be intrusive. I'd always keep an eye out for him, maybe I'd get to know more. Now here was an Italian who had no give away of his origins except when he spoke the language which he rarely did.

At the mela I was drawn to this contemporary looking stall called Camel Charisma, an NGO that works to preserve the biodiversity by spreading awareness about the lesser known troubles resulting from the drop in the camel population. I volunteered with them and learned much from Ilse (the camel lady from Germany) Hanwant Singh (from Jodhpur) who spoke the local dialect and was genuinely concerned for the Raikas and their camels. That evening with Heva I met an Italian girl who I overheard talking of a man with the exact description, I couldn't help but ask more about him. Oh 'Jyoti ba'.. that's what people call him, yes he's Sicilian and he loves to talk, he knows so much about the locals and can tell you all if you walk around with him. I was glad! I had to search for him again.
Next morning at Salim's I asked about him and they told me sketchy bits they knew; that he was a nomad, you'd spot him if you were lucky. I left a little note written in Italian for him. On my way back, voila! There he was, he'd got my note and was more than happy to talk, not in Italian or English but speaking the local dialect of marwari hindi.. hahaha!

We spoke, he told me of his origins and his stay in India, I was curious. When he was quite certain that I had genuine interest he began telling me more of who he was slowly unravelling his school of thought, ideas and ambition. He had quite a history but now he was one with India, with Rajasthan. He for one has lived his research through and there can be nothing more thorough I thought. He was not just any 'rural gora', he had a purpose and he was living it.

His detest for the modern day schooling, left over of the Raj which has truly broken the spine of our country in more ways than one. As we spoke I grew more aware of things I had thought of in the past and some that I hadn't I couldn't agree more, where we know well a mispronounced English alphabet but not how to light a fire.

Photo credits- Natalia Quiroga, Elin Nashi Bolmgren

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tradition to trend

Dear readers/followers I usually don't post secondary research, but this just seemed so interesting that I had to post.

Indian Islamic man, Hennaed hair

Elderly Indian man, Sadhu/sanyasi possibly

Elderly Indian man, post Holi

Indian Islamic man, Western India, printed turban

Indian Islamic man, green turban

Indian Sadhu, Coloured forehead & beads

Sikhism Inspired fashion image

Waris Ahluwalia, Sikh designer NY

Accessorised beard

Flower beard

Accessorised beard

Flower beard

Flower beard

Flower beard

Flower beard

Flower beard

Flower beard

Beach scene beard

My sincere credit to pinterest and the many photographers/stylists/models who are contributing to this. I could not find origins of all the pictures though please feel free to write in to me should you have any queries/requests. Thank you once again.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Nascent Nelipots

Barefoot Bhakti..

The more I  travel this land (India) the smaller I feel and probably lack words to describe the deep feeling it leaves me with.

Our Rishi munis have lived detached from the material world for thousands of years.

We have visitors from world over who come to this land to understand the meaning of this enigmatic country. For us city brats it is much about how terribly inadequate our systems are and its best to flee, it does take a while to understand what a land of plenty we are, pause; and wonder what still keeps going?

Sometimes we need to come full circle to understand this, we are not a 'trend' driven culture and words like fashion/trend are fairly recent, probably still not understood conceptually as a nation. So, something like walking barefoot which is either for reasons of material detachment or poverty, is now 'fashionable'

Often enough it is not adopted for either of the above reasons and there is a group of people doing it. The Nascent Nelipots!

The original pundit in the background does believe in footwear. The one in focus has clearly been a nelipot for a while and to him it's not just a holiday trend.

The soles get tougher and acclimatise after a while of walking barefoot.

#Nelipots have even creeped into the punk souls so we have an overlapping cross trend here. Bare-soled punks!

I usually strike a conversation with people I photograph so the picture has more depth than just a flash image. 

Why does one choose to walk on the rough streets of India without footwear? 
It is of course not the easiest terrain to walk on keeping in mind the weather & our not so clean uneven streets. Some just took off their shoes in the heat and didn't put them back on but it has a deeper meaning, spiritually; to absorb praan (life) from holy land, which is commendable, pilgrims do this as a form of tapp.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pushkar Jewels

Lasagna in a butter dish!! where else could it be? Pushkar... the beautiful camel fair. No matter how many times over the Rajasthani colour, costume and people have been photographed there's always more. From my brief visit, I caught some jewellery that tells much, a lot of it has disappeared though and I see earlobes with piercings and nothing to adorn them! lucky to have spotted some handsome folks who still dress gracefully!

Each time I'm here I love it even more than before. The people, the vibrations and the devotion! It makes one re-affirm 'belief'!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rural Indian Fashion

Not in a hurry.. 
The pace is calming; for urbaners a bit stressful to see the ease, androgynous I must say, they wear sort of men's shirts with cuffs and collars as the upper garment with the sari.

Graceful Indian men's wear, androgynous again, absolutely love Indian rural fashion, whether its tradition or innovation its quite genuine!

Fluo femmes 
If you work with color and love textile India's the place to be!

Chai wala 
Indian tea, absolutely eco - ps: that's his bin at the bottom for disposing earthen cups.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Bite of Summer

I'm spending a lot of precious time with my family; missed out on this while growing up. Of course I miss traveling, sharing the culture wonders of India & the rising of the western sun. But this is as much fun, its like a 'discover the family' journey.

So, grab my camera & give you a snippet of our wonderful hot & humid Mumbai summer.
Would you like to share some melon?

slurping it up! 

How do you beat the summer heat?...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bombay Boots!

A Bombayite doesn't really know 'winter', well this time we're getting it. The sharp chill has opened doors to winter fashions in a city where an over shirt would get you looks from locals, to say 'you're NOT from Mumbai'.
I love winter and look wistfully at my bags of woolies from travels in cooler climes, stacked away in labelled boxes. The sultry weather makes them redundant.
Out they come now... for Mumbai it's not a passing wave, its WINTER! A popular suburban street lined with 'all styles available' summer wear & flipflops round the year, now stocks boots and furry bed-room slippers to my surprise, quite unusual for Mumbai.

Its a blast of color. Oddly enough I saw girls flopping around in these on a local train station.

Boots on Bombay streets.. it's a sight! Folks have been trotting around in them since zara & co. are the new fashion dictators here. It's even managed to trickle down to the street in next to no time.

These springtime verdure flipflops sit cheek-by-jowl with chill weather footwear, the Bombayite is not quite sure when winter checks out.