An Indian autumn
Having just returned from 2 weeks in India – my first visit to this vast country with a vast population, massive challenges and equally massive opportunities – I would like to share an image that for me encapsulates some of this beautiful country’s everyday less ordinary life.
It shows 2 new born kids, one drinking from its mother and 1 held by the children of the farmer – seated on the far right – who is observing his children with loving pride. The children are smiling for the camera and are gently holding the new born – who will provide them and their family with milk and food. While I was taking the picture the farmer’s wife appeared with a chair for me to sit on. They are a poor family – one of many who struggle to make a living – in stark contrast with the riches of the Indian upper and middle classes who have drivers, servants, hot water, toilets and internet access and who live in gated communities far away from this little farmstead.
Many Indians are still locked in the caste system – and those from the lower castes find it difficult to break away from their background and tradition despite the recent massive urbanisation which has accounted for some shift in this deep rooted and rigid discrimination. People I spoke with often referred to their caste – and some with pride – such as the fishermen in Goa, but for many it may take several life times and a massive cultural effort and mind shift to move up on the social and economic well being ladder. Prospect magazine this month featured a pull out on poverty in the UK – an interesting and thought provoking series of cases but somewhat far removed from the reality of simple everyday ‘surviving’ for many in India.
We can’t look into these children’s minds but the picture tells a powerful story and offers a glimpse into everyday life in India. The man with the turban is our driver who drove us from Delhi to Agra – where we saw the splendour of the Taj Mahal – built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal. A magnificent building – a world heritage site – visited by millions from around the globe – including the late revered and loved Princess Diana. ‘Love’ as the basis for a building – love and aspirations for the future by a father for his children and love and tenderness by the children for their new born goat. And for me – on the other side of the lens – respect and gratitude that people from all walks of life are happy to share – a smile, a chair, a story ….