Archive for March 2009
On the way back from Mizoram our family spent several days in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta). It’s a city that I am quite at home in, thanks to its position as the key gateway to Bangladesh from India. After several years absence it was cathartic to walk Calcutta’s gritty streets, delve into the outstanding street food, interact in Bangla and take in the vibrant commotion that define the city. The botanical gardens remain a place of inspiration for me as a photographer looking for grand trees. This is a variation of a composition that was used in the 2001 postcard set on Banyans of Bengal that I produced through Drik. This time around I brought along my son Lenny who put up with the early departure but was disappointed that he wasn’t allowed to climb on the countless limbs and aerials roots!
This winter we journeyed through India to visit our extended family in Mizoram. This small Indian state with a meager population of under a million people occupies a unique position on the physical and cultural frontier of the Indian subcontinent. Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts and Burma’s Chin Hills surround two thirds of the state while Mizoram is linked to India through its border with Assam, Tripura & Manipur. The terrain is rugged and unforgiving to casual exploration. Ethnically Mizos share closer affinity with South East rather than South Asia. They are mostly Christian and literacy rates are the 2nd highest in India after Kerala. Perhaps most interestingly, there is virtually no class or caste difference amongst Mizos! Separatist movements mar the neighboring states but Mizoram is free of significant insurgency. Mizos enjoy autonomy and protection of their culture while still remaining comfortably within the Indian union. The state enjoys a sense of peace that is rare in this little-known region of India.