by Emilie Robert
and Carlo Tiribelli
India it is not just a physical place, it is before all a
mental place. India is a place where reality and fantasy are melted
India is a land of
contrasts that can not let
you indifferent. Its year by
year exponential growth of the GDP rate; its glooming dream made of
celluloid called Bollywood; its local Silicon Valley called
Bangalore, where computer technology is exported at high competitive
prices all around the world are examples of a westernized India, an
understandable India using the metric of the economic progress.
Besides this very important aspects, India has more then 12 million
sacred cows strolling around, cows that most of the time nourish
them grasping the garbage that abounds anywhere.
Cities are more
then chaotic in comparison with any standard of chaos. Besides cows,
the roads are fulfilled with donkeys, pigs, monkeys, camels and
elephants, whose circulation rights are shared with an enormous
quantity of cycles, motorcycles, rickshaws, cars, buses and
pedestrians walking along inexistent sidewalks and crisscrossing at
any moment the roads. An orgy of honks, shouting and breaking
accompanies this undisciplined wave.
Daily life in urbanized India
generally takes place outdoors, This
is mainly due to the climate conditions, the human
co-existence in cramped spaces, and the poverty of a huge part
of the population. People live on the street: they do
business, they eat, they wash themselves, they sleep and
sometimes they die here while the continuous flux of
animals and rickshaws never stops.
Rural India is different, like any other
rural area anywhere in the world. People communicate
more and there are buffalos, cotton fields, woman dressed in bright
colors and men plowing the fields. They all wait the monsoon
season that carries life and death, flows and new fertility for
an earth burned by an unforgiving sun.
Vivid symbols, a
never-ending mysticism, a religion that encompasses all the aspects
of daily life, a vibrant architecture, an incredible variety of
flora and fauna, food mostly designed for vegetarians that makes
happy even the pure meat-eaters. The colors of the spices offered by
the vendors. A multi-chromatic joy for the eyes and for your
camera, a less joy when you taste some of these spices and you turn
red while choking.
This is India and
nothing of this is India either. Reducing India to its stereotypes
is futile. India is so huge, so complex,
so extremely rich and so
profoundly poor that an
accurate description of this country
Before going to
India we were influenced by what we read about it. Rudyard Kipling
and Lonely Planet gave us many details and the envy to cast a direct
look of this country that does not let you indifferent.
Before going to
India we trained ourselves with the vision we would have endured
when landed over there. Colors and poverty, third world and the
biggest call center in the world, archaism and development and some
But no book or
tourist guide, no referred memory by previous travelers, prepared us
to the odors. In our personal opinion, the smell of India is the
secret of its beauty and its complexity.
everywhere and they cover everything. Odors in India are are very strong, they do not hide themselves, they render
any image even more vivid. The sweetie smell of the open-air flowers
markets, the smell of the food cooked any time, anywhere, the smell
of the incense, the smell of the animals and the smell of their
final phase of digestion, the smell of human bodies carrying other
human bodies sitting on the rickshaws or pulling any kind of
merchandise, the smell of the humanity confined in overcrowded
What we really appreciated in India was that
life was not hidden behind a layer of hypocritical circumstances
like in the Western world. Life in India is shown
as it is with all its tragicomic facades. There is no double
protection to the odors, to the chaotic circulation, to the
spiritualism and mysticism, to the social classes division. There
is no shame on washing and sleeping along the streets. There is
only a lot of decency with any sort of the human commitments. A
life spent without ‘make-up’.
In a nutshell life in India does not look
different from what it really is. Joy, sufferance and
indifference to the human condition and these feelings are
continuously mixed together. The joy, the sufferance and the
indifference that we tried to depict in these pictures.
They do not demand
to be an all-inclusive image of the whole country; they have been
shot in a rather limited area. They do not even demand to be a
reliable portrait of all Indian characters. These pictures represent just our intimate
idea of this magic land of vivid contrasts.
10th of March 2005