October 2, 2014

A Tourist No More

As I start settling down into India, learning to name it home, I found myself thinking about how that's influencing the way I am seeing the place and subsequently, altering the texture of my photography and writing. Earlier, I experienced a constant need to document moments, significant or quotidian; if I wasn't photographing them, I was writing them down in my journals or daily planners. It was as if I feared that if I didn't make the effort to memorialize their existence, it was if they had had never happened: memories thus metamorphosed into impaled butterflies, pinned down and shut up in glass cages of photographs or diaries.

While I had been journaling for many years, I only regularly started taking photographs though when I got a digital camera. I still remember the first ones I took of Pushkar on a winter morning: the trilingual sign-boards in Hebrew, English, and Hindi, a street dog sitting sentinel on the sun-soaked whitewashed ghats, the famed, heaven-scented pink Pushkar rose cradled in my palms, yellow mustard flowers paint-daubing the fields... Even though I knew I would return to India and would always do so annually (or sometimes, even bi-annually), I would greedily stock up on capturing photographs, akin to a squirrel hoarding away nuts in preparation for the long, bleak winter. Back home in Oman or wherever I happened to be living at that moment, I would scroll through the photographs and notes, both admiring and yearning for that foreign country, the past, briefly transported to that particular coordinate of time, place, and my thoughts. 

The other day, a friend asked me during a What'sApp conversation about how did it feel to be living in India now that I was no longer a tourist. As I mused about how exactly to reply to that, I idly scrolled through my camera roll on my phone, looking at the pictures that I had taken since I had moved. It then occurred to me that I was not as avidly or prolifically taking pictures as I otherwise would have been wont to. Earlier, when vacationing in India, if I saw an arresting sight or mentally framed a great shot while zooming past in a car or in middle of a conversation, I would have regretted the opportunity of not being able to take it: that unphotographed photograph would forever linger in my mind. However, now, I told myself that I had all the time to see, explore, process - and photograph and write about it. These images would no longer be postcards or souvenirs from a trip; they would be the weave and color and embroidery of my every day-life.

So what have I been seeing and photographing in these initial months? Here are a few visual and written notes...

Eye-food: Jodhpur

Eye-food: fuchsia merging into saffron into pink. Fallen chunky gold hair-ties resembling errantly discarded gold bangles. The night air smells of pregnant rain-clouds. Dessicated leaves decorating my feet. Banana leaves angrily tearing apart the sky. Mother Mary in a green sari. 

Reflecting the World: Bangalore

Frozen headlines on a lemon wall. Mirror-smooth, polished granite tombstones stacked atop each other. Chickens crammed in coops. A smashed carnation. A Mickey Mouse with a human head. A little girl in a fairy costume with a dahlia growing out of her crown. Tilak-smeared fat, furry, old dogs. 

Flight or Fight: Cubbon Park, Bangalore

At the park: pigeons fly into trees and become leaves. Three Marwari women gossip about hair-cuts. There is a wildly eccentric tree growing in the middle of a suave park. Black dog in front of gods. Post breakfast: mathematically perfect cones of dosas. Ice-candy stolen from a blizzard.

Long, pock-marked seed pods, glossy, polished nuts and red cotton-silk blossoms. Pelicans swimming in a jade-thick lake. Flowers illuminating a shy morning.


  1. Loved these captures Priyanka... the last one is just beautiful!

    1. First of all, thank you so much for stopping by, Ambika...please do visit again:)

      I also appreciate your kind words about the pictures, so glad you liked them...as for the last one, I was just playing around with few discarded diyas and freshly plucked fowers...happy to see that you liked how the arrangement played out!


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