Monday, March 31, 2008

Parika's Paprika

"My Brother's Son."

-Parika, photography student, 15 years old, Van Gujjar Basti, Gaindikhatta, Uttarakhand.

love and health to all...

Monday, March 24, 2008

paths we take. paths we make.

Dehradun, Uttarakhand. Northern India. March 24, 2008.

love and health and peace to all...

Sheny Dhaba

This is Ashok Sheny and his son, Kapil Sheny. Ashok has owned and operated the "Sheny Dhaba" for 15 years in the small village of Gaindikhatta. A "dhaba" is a small restaurant, usually beside a road. The Van Gujjar community that I am currently working in is about a mile and a half walk from the Sheny Dhaba. Sometimes I stop by for chai or a paratha before I head to work in the "Gujjar Basti." In Hindi, Basti means colony.

The Sheny Dhaba is open from 5 am till 11 pm. Ashok told me that they brew 100 cups of chai a day. Tandoori roti, samosas, various curries and daals, pakoras and cold drinks are available too.

Ashok and Kapil sleep and work in their dhaba. Kapil tends to make chai, knead dough and wipe down tables with a smile while singing bollywood film songs.

love and health to all..

Monday, March 17, 2008

Anjum's Angles

Anjum is now Asif's other half, in marriage. I couldn't get access to Anjum during the wedding until the end of the day, as the sun began to tuck itself in. She appeared on stage in the main reception hall for some photos and then made her way over to Asif's car.

It was a transition full of emotion and certainly one of the most difficult aspects to an arranged marriage, the moment the bride leaves her family and heads to her husband's home. The emotions of the day, the minute of seperation and a combination of many types of tired.

This is Anjum.

love and health to all...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Asif in Aligarh

Like a boomerang, I swooped into New Delhi on friday to be with my friend Asif and attend his wedding on the prestigious grounds of Aligarh Muslim University, four hours south of Delhi.

I had been to heaps of Indian weddings, but never a wedding seeped in Indian Muslim tradition. I was looking forward to observing the differences and similarites between the two... Being Asif's friend, he was constantly beckoning me to the stage, where he sat for most of the day, eating and receiving visitors. His wife spent most of the day in a different room, kicking it with her fams and her girls. The ceremonies were quite similar, with the major differences, a more distinct seperation between men and women and of course, prayers in the Muslim faith, toungues and sounds of Arabic and Urdu...

At the end of the day, Asif's with, Anjum, came to the stage and sat for some time. Soon after that, Anjum came out to Asif families' car, tired and teary eyed from an emotional day of old and new, on her way to a new home...

Aaj, we got the ceremony on Asif's tip and kul, Anjum...

love and health to all...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

on these here banks

H. Nasir Gents Tailors is a small hole in the wall family operation off the main clock tower roundabout in this city of Dehradun. The Central Post Office, a massive building, and the Clock Tower are within sight from the corner of Ghosli Gali or Ghosi Lane. Standing in Nasir Gents Tailors one feels that they could lay down in the store and perhaps with a little wiggle, their toes would dangle out of the store and into Ghosi Lane.

Mr. Nasir has recently stitched men's jackets and suits, pants, shirts and even now, some short ladies jackets. Behind his measuring table is a photograph of Mecca and three shirts in a plastic display case, with the H. Nasir label on them. H. Nasir claims to be the oldest shop in Dehradun.

Two years ago I got three suits stitched at H. Nasir Tailors for a wedding in California.

Less than two months later a journey of epic proportions began on sandy shores, at dawn, while the sun rose. The sky was clear and blue. The air was fresh. The light of the sun, warm.

This journey is infinite and forever. How many wavy banks and diverse nations, ocean currents and clear rivers has this journey travelled with and rested at before moving on? How many grains of sand are there in the world? Or high mountain passes full of snow, soon to melt and journey themselves? Right now, reading this, how many toes are wiggling in sand, currents lapping the backs of ankles, faces being washed in fast flowing alpine streams, boats braving storms on choppy seas... Glasses, hands full of water being drunk, bodies cleansed... Giving life...

One thing can be certain.

A journey of this magnitude has never been so well dressed...

this is the ghats of the mighty ganga at dusk. haridwar, uttar pradesh.

with a touch of silvio rodriguez and mercedes sosa, love and health to all...

Monday, March 10, 2008

spring is sprung...

in dehradun, it is starting to get hot and there is talk of the snows of the north beginning to melt.

i went with my friend sameer to check out the dehradun annual flower show...

this is my neighbors and their dog LC, who howls into the late nights..

and where's the lenz in the last?

love and health to all...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

patching up the forest...

Last week was my first long term foray into the Shivalik Mountains, walking the lands, looking at forest schools, meeting teachers and community leaders, families and situations. It was eye opening and at times tough in many ways.

Of the many things I began to see and understand, one, is that the Van Gujjar community has very little access to any type of consistent health care. I put down my camera a couple of times to clean a couple of gnarly cuts, that needed some good washing and covering. This boy, Mohammed Sen, feel from a jeep on his way home and back into the forest.

love and health to all...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

shooting stars & shutter speeds

march 3rd around eight pm indian standard time i was standing in a narrow valley in the shivalik mountains, the first bumps of the mighty himalayas. my head was pounding, 10 kilometres had been walked with a stomach of 1 roti. dehydrated, tired and sad thinking of my brother sam's birthday the following day, i decided to clean my teeth with a toothbrush and dabur brand toothpaste. barefoot, with a flaslight i stood next to three small kids pissing before sleeping. and then i looked up into the heavens. between these narrow mountains i saw in the sky, the brightest, longest, most gorgeous shooting star i've ever seen in my 27 years on this planet we've named earth.

it was sammy still shining.

i hooted and hollered happiness. the three naked kids next to me giggled with delight.

this is me and mohammed ibrahim having fun with fast shutter speeds...

love and health to all...