I’ve spent yesterday recording some of my dad’s memories about his family and his childhood in India, where his family lived for about five generations prior to the 1950s. It was quite interesting to then take a look through my grandmother’s photo albums from the 1930s. I never really met my grandparents but i have spent time in and around Kolkata, where these pictures were taken. So much unfamiliarity and yet it all feels very familiar.
I have no real reason for posting these images except that I came across them the other day and writing about portraiture and people’s self-consciousness in my last post made me think of them again. This young girl lives in a shack sandwiched between a railway and the ghats, or riverbank, in Kolkata. It was late afternoon on the day of Holi (March 09), when Hindus throw coloured powers at each other…hence the state of her. What we found curious at the time was the way she held herself. It’s normal for Indians to hold your gaze, unsmiling, while you take a photo of them. But this girl, a rag-picker, held herself with the poise and self-assurance of a fashion model…quite unexpected.