Montag, 23. Juli 2007

Work - Somebody's gotta do it

The teachings of Unto This Last (a book by John Ruskin) I understood to be:

1. that the good of the individual is contained in the good of all;

2. that a lawyer’s work has the same value as the barber’s in as much all have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work;

3. that a life of labour, i.e. the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is the life worth living.

The first of these I knew. The second I had dimly realized. The third had never occurred to me. Unto This Last made it clear as daylight for me that the second and third were contained in the first.

I arose with the dawn ready to reduce these principles to practice.

- Mahatma Gandhi
from his Autobiography




Samstag, 21. Juli 2007

One in a Billion

Portrait Photographs from India

to view photos in this exhibit

  • Many guide books suggest a list of places tourists should visit or activities they should do in a country before returning home. Such suggestions are considered to be “highlights,” and doing them will assure that one has not missed out on the best a country has to offer.

    This past February and March I rode bus and train from Mumbai to Delhi, spending the majority of the time in the northwest state of Rajasthan. There, I did nearly all of the suggested activities – and much more. While I had experiences during these two months I hardly could have imagined beforehand, steeping myself in the state’s history, it was principally the people I met along the way that brought it all to life and connected the historical experience to the here and now.

    Moreover, these days, when the talk turns to globalisation, perhaps no other country is mentioned as frequently as India. And while we listen from afar of that country’s economic upswing, one fact, above all others, stands in the foreground: its population of a billion people.

    It is tough to imagine such a number and, in human terms, confounding to the mind to differentiate the individual from the throng. Yet, it is precisely the duality of the uniqueness of each one of us and the realization that as humans we share an incredible amount that is so moving.

    From this perspective, I offer the exhibit, “One in a Billion – Portraits from India,” a series of photographs that focuses not on those places deemed by some to be highlights of a region, but on the people who live there and, indeed, their individuality.

    The places we choose to visit in our travels are generally well populated – those in India perhaps all the more so. It is my intention with this exhibit to shine the spotlight on a few of those billion. Because it is our interactions with these individuals, more than anything else, that form the highlight of our travels.


    Rajasthan, the Land of the Kings, is India’s most colour-charged state. Half desert, half bony hills, the everyday is shot with searing colour – brilliant fabrics flash like flames against the stark landscape. You’ll experience these saturated shocks of colour everywhere – a sea of turbans clustered under a village tree, rural women in traditional dress, saris drying on a parched riverbed.

    Like a legend come to life, the state is packed with magical towns and cities: sky-blue Jodhpur; Jaipur, painted dusky pink; Jaisalmer, a golden sandcastle; Udaipur, shimmering bone-white; and Pushkar, clinging around its holy lake. The whimsical, magnificent palaces and forts are products of the Rajputs – warrior clans and feudal lords who dominated Rajasthan for centuries, living by ancient, violent codes of chivalry and death before dishonour. A collection of small, fierce kingdoms, each supported vast forts, epic palatial complexes and the incredible lifestyles of the maharajas.

    Today Rajasthan remains dominated by its past, a feudal state with a largely rural population. The land is harsh and frequent droughts makes scratching a living harder and harder. The pre-eminence and extravagance of the Rajput princes that created such a beguiling, mythological state, with so much to offer the visitor, has also contributed to Rajasthan’s poverty and lack of advancement – travelling between here and Delhi is like travelling back in time.

    The state is diagonally divided into the hilly southeastern region and the barren northwestern Thar Desert, which extends across the border into Pakistan.

    Get lost in golden Jaisalmer Fort, rising from the desert

    Relax in Pushkar, a mystical small town around a holy lake, with one of India’s most fabulous fairs

    Experience the might of Meherangarh, Jodhpur’s majestic fort, and its stunning blue-city views

    Explore the mesmerising lake town of Udaipur and surrounding countryside

    Take a Shekhawati magical mystery tour to discover bizarre, beautiful frescoed havelis

    Think pink; launch into mayhem, shopping and sightseeing in captivating, chaotic Jaipur

    Laze in and around Bundi, a small town overlooked by a storybook, bat-inhabited palace

    - Lonely Planet, 2004

    Most importantly, say hello to Sapna’s mother in the village of Beman south of Fatehpur Sikri, and the other people you meet along the way

    - tjontheroad, 2007