LIFE, dynamically unfolding all around you,
at an almost unbearable intensity.
Never a moment of silence.
Never a moment of stagnancy.
You are never alone.
You are never lonely.
Multitudes of color.
Mutitudes of smells.
God gave us eyes.
Hence, collective staring permitted.
Caged laughter liberated.
Never a dull moment.
Simplicity of human contact.
Immediacy of interaction.
Yet, that mysterious grey area of ancient culture
that one will never fully grasp or understand.
Where a stranger stops to ask,
"Madame, do you need assistance?"
Where a precocious boy on a bicycle stops to ask:
Where Everything is possible.
Kumbh Mela, a mass Hindu pilgrimage where 100 million people gather to bathe in a sacred river. Allahabad.
Yes, one now sees the growing younger affluent class.
Yes, cappuccinos are inching into chais.
Yes, more malls are popping up in cities.
Yes, there are more motorized metals to unnerve you.
Yes, the horns blare even louder.
Yet, rest assured that you will still find the usual suspects—the wallahs, rickshaws, cows, dogs, at times camels and elephants—still woven into the chaotic yet harmonious fabric of the streets where horns with super volume can unnerve even the initiated. Yet on the next magical day, you walk home with the elephants.
Import / Export
Swaminarayan Mandir in Kalupur area of Ahmedabad
Ladies-Only section in New Delhi subway.
A Muslim neighborhood in Varanasi
It is still a land of confluences. Religions, rituals, tribes, ashrams, tailor-made truths and traditional wisdom, LED lights and living
crafts, plastic toys and puja items, spiritual and economic enlightenment exist side by side.
In the 1970s, Charles and Ray Eames made a simple yet poignant film "India" which zooms out to a scene of multitudes to convey the message of tolerance that is a necessity and natural course of a complex culture.
It is still a land of humanity. The generosity of the people of this culture is something that we are often deprived of in our own world. But that one minute of unsolicited generosity from a stranger who is compelled to ask you if you need any help, out of the blue, is redeeming and helps sustain hope in this world.
It is also a land with vast and varied forms of living crafts with artisans who incarnate humility, patience, and persistence. Usually there is no drawing, testifying to the importance of continuity through generational transmissions of knowledge to keep a craft alive. A craftsperson's ideas and inspirations move from the heart, to the head, to the hand.
It is also a land and people that have experienced shifts and counter shifts—geological and climatic changes, technology trends, demand and marketability, perceptions of time as money—which have affected the lifeline for India's living crafts. We've been living in the machine age for a long time. Fortunately the trend has shifted, and today, the empty space that it has created in us generates nostalgia for the roots that handicrafts speak of, reminding us of our temporarily forgotten humanity. In that sense, it is a good time for us to experience its revival.
Mahatma Gandhi © Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalay
Kumbh Mela. Allahabad.
"Sagar" a 17th century lake in Amer, Rajasthan. A hidden jewel.
India is an initiation for most people, a force to be reckoned with. Whether or not you like it, your response would never be a passive one. And it is an initiation that addicts you to come back, triggers wanderlust, makes you embrace rootlessness, ruthfully jolts you out of your comfortable schema. And that is what continues to make India feel so different. Same same, but different.
Hence, the first series of tales is dedicated to this magnificent, intricate and intense India, as more of a tip of the tip-of-the-iceberg glimpse into some of its artisans, landscapes, and singular people. And a journey into reconnecting...with The World.