I've moved... again!

Hello friends!

I've moved blog-home once again so please come on over here. It's so much better, I promise.

There's also some big news that you might want to read about ;)



Just a couple of shots from my recent trip to Calcutta!


Clean hands?

Last night I had a nightmare that a taxi driver attempted to molest me. Blame it on all the reading I did last night. A blog post that sadly rings true for probably every woman living in India. Angry twitter updates from Bollywood giving commentary and gyaan on the recent rape case in Mumbai. Facebook status messages. 

This narrative that my brain conjured up in my sleep is a reality for millions of women every single day in this country. It has been a reality for me several times and unfortunately, I have little hope that it will never happen again.

Is there a solution? Will there be no end to this violation of women at every turn?

Whenever an unfortunate incident happens, we the people take up to the streets and demand that the government do something. Stricter punishment for rape cases! Faster trials! Increased security! 

And then there's Bollywood. All enraged and tweeting as fast as their fingers can type. 
"I'm appalled!" says Sonam Kapoor
"I feel ashamed" says Karan Johar
"It's the uneducated, misinformed section of our society who have skewed ideas of masculinity," says Alia Bhat 
"Aaaarrggghh! I hate what we've become! We sit around while politicians do nothing to protect women! Has India's youth become so helpless?" says Vishal Dadlani
"So now what do we do take candles & crowds & walk the streets & sign petitions again in protest and plead for our safety.. WHAT?!" says Sandhya Mridul
The great Shah Rukh Khan uses big words like "objectification":
"Punishing those responsible for this heinous crime is 1 part of the deterrent. The 2nd, far greater deterrent is to change our own mindsets. To educate our boys in a manner that the respect for women becomes implicit in their natures and they begin to understand that the objectification of women is equally disrespectful to their so called manhood as it is to the women they objectify."
Okay, SERIOUSLY?!?!?! You are talking about the objectification of women?!?!!?? Ha ha ha.

Objectification of women may not have been the brain-child of Bollywood, but they sure have taken it to new heights. It seems a movie can't be complete without an "item number" where women are shown as sex objects, to be ogled at and lusted at. And of course there's the ad-world complimenting the whole fiasco. Apparently no ad-maker can thing of a more creative way to sell ice-cream than to show a close up shot of the cream slowly and sensually dripping down the luscious pouty lips of a super-model. And of course there's clearly no other way to sell a deodorant without showing sex-crazed women in bikinis running towards six-abed man on deserted island using said deodorant. 

So when things like this happen, I'm sorry, until you can take a little responsibility yourself, your whining on twitter and complaining about the irresponsibility of the government sounds a tad bit hypocritical. The government is not doing anything. We all know that. But what are you doing?

What are we doing as a society? Why do we support these movies and these item-songs and write it off as harmless fun? Why do we tolerate ads that show women in demeaning ways, as objects to be acquired? Why don't we take a stand and realise that our choices in the things we buy, the movies we watch, the places we work do have an impact?

We're all crying murder. We all have our stones ready to throw at the accused as if our own hands are perfectly clean. Are they really?


The end of the honeymoon.

Two weekends ago, I flew up to Mumbai and then Jaipur to shoot a very interesting project that involved a lot of Hathis* (!). I will share more about that when I can but I wanted to write about the experience of traveling in India. Something that I used to love and now it seems India has lost her charm on me. Completely. A couple of weeks before I traveled to Jaipur, I was reading a friend's blog and her experiences traveling in India and I could relate to her sense of wonder and amazement. She was honest about it; there are difficult things to swallow but all in all, it moved her, changed her.

As my companion and I drove towards the shoot location in Jaipur, I started to feel that again... Maybe, just maybe I was beginning to feel that wonder again and it was exciting. This is what I had to do! Travel! The instant way to restore my fraying relationship with this country.

But it didn't last long. As the weekend wore on, even though I enjoyed shooting the project, the little things kept grating on me. The lack of clean public toilets - as a woman, having to hold it in until you can get to some semblance of a clean toilet and still be disappointed is pretty close to a nightmare. The litter everywhere. The stares. The lack of maintenance of tourist attractions. The lack of order. And then to top it all off, we got stuck in a traffic jam brought on by flooded streets for 3 HOURS. I was so mad. I declared that I hated living in India. A feeling that has grown inside of me for months now but I have not said out loud.

Apart from the relationships that I have here, I sometimes feel that there isn't anything else that ties me to this country. I don't have any sense of national pride anymore.

Maybe it's a good thing. The honeymoon period is over. This stage is painful because now all I see is the bad stuff and that, combined with the slightly-or-more-than-slightly cynical side of me, makes for a lot of hopeless and angry feelings.

After Jaipur, I stayed in Mumbai for about a week and I'm not going to lie, I spent many evenings feeling overwhelmed as the reality of my eventual re-location there in December (more on that later!) started to dawn on me. Mumbai is harsh, an assault on all your senses. You'd think I'd be more accustomed to this having lived there for three years in college but I have been away for too long and it seems things have gotten worse. And even in college, it took me almost three years and the knowledge that I was leaving soon to finally start to get used to it. Oh, and I didn't have to worry about finding decent accommodation at decent prices at that time either!

And so I crumbled. It felt like Mumbai was a big scary beast that would swallow me alive and I haven't even moved there yet! But then a friend who counselled me through these overwhelming feelings said something like this, "you have to remember that a huge majority of this crowd is made up of individuals who have left their homes and families in far away villages and are just doing the best that they can to provide for their loved ones."

Sometimes it's annoying how right he is. I mean, what do you say that?

India is broken. If I really wanted to, I could find a way to hide from the brokenness. It's possible to make the brokenness less visible. Everything looks like it runs perfectly smoothly from the outside but problems still exist. Ignorance is only temporary bliss.

And so here I am, the honeymoon period of my love affair with my own country is over. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my heightened senses of the reality. It feels like the more I know, the more I hurt. How do I stay and not be buried under hopelessness? How do I turn all that emotional energy into positive change?

Honestly, I don't know yet. I don't have any illusions of changing the world, all I know is that not trying is not an option. And neither is being hopeless.

An image from our 3 hour hiatus in a Jaipuri-flood. This is what they were looking at.



Grace + Inseong | Korea Candid Wedding Photography

A little history, Grace and I have been friends for about more than a decade! We went to boarding school together for five years in Ooty. We shared rooms, traveled together, took a 'Basic Mechanics' class together (I did not learn a THING), had those stupid teenage fights about nothing, cried together - we go a long way basically. So apart from this being my first international shoot (woot!), it was an incredible blessing to be there and get to meet this man - Inseong who won my friend's heart and see them commit their lives to one another in marriage. I had such a wonderful time re-living the experience as I edited these photos. The two of them are obviously in love and also well-loved by their friends from their university, church and of course their family.

I post these images with bittersweet emotions. I am so excited to finally publish them and yet kind of sad that my work with these images are done for now. So I share my view of this special day with you... The day that Grace and Inseong got married.

6 July 2013

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