Stories from the Road: The Real India

Stories from the Road is a collection of stories about my own photographic adventures in South Asia. Sometimes the stories are exciting and sometimes mundane and at times emotional. This section deals with vernacular photography and the way we all experience the photographs we see. What they meant when we took them and what they mean over time.

Photography is a curious thing, especially when it comes to travel. I often look at travel photographs online before I go somewhere. These images are tantalizing and titillating. Everyone gets an impression about a place from the photographs they view. Thing about this made me think of a moment from my recent trip to Jodhpur.

Meropi and I were walking through the back streets of Jodhpur and they fed us into a typical Indian market. What we refer to as a local market. As we walked through the market I commented that the market was the ‘real India’. Most of the time as tourists we stick to certain areas of town and while these areas are obviously real, they do not hold the same feelings and visual imagery of the non-tourist areas of a city, town or village.

I took the photograph above specifically as a pictorial representation of my thought about ‘real India.’ The photograph shows women shopping at a stall on the street. The stall is in front of other stores inside buildings. It shows the complexity of India. The layers that exist in this photograph are present in everyday life here. The people walking down the streets, the sellers with their wares on carts, the stores in the buildings. It is a strange stratification of wealth and the way lives can be lived here.

This local market in Jodhpur is no different than a local market here in Udaipur. Perhaps this is also part of the appeal. Now that I have been in Udaipur for 10 months it has become familiar and as you travel you search for the familiar. You want the comfort of home. For me that is slowly changing. What I am beginning to realize and this photograph specifically points to the fact that I no longer long for my old life, now I look for the familiarity of the life I have now.

Oh Jodhpur, since she is also a Rajasthani town there was constant discussion of comparison between her and Udaipur with Meropi. It is funny how we compare the two cities but in the end, I was able to find a connection between the two, the familiar that we search for in life.

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By |2018-10-12T16:31:57+00:00February 28th, 2017|India|0 Comments

About the Author:

Betsy Williamson is an assistant professor of art in the state of New Mexico. Before coming to New Mexico for this job she was an adjunct professor throughout Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, teaching photography and art appreciation. Between September 2015 and May 2017, she took a break from teaching to pursue art, research and life in India. Now she is back to teaching and part-timing it in India.

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