Also Basar: Life in monochrome

From the fag end of October, five artists from various fields and I spent four weeks in the small town of Basar in Lepa Rada district in India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Artists Residency of the Basar Confluence.

While we all worked on different projects (mine will be uploaded shortly), this was a small side project that I wanted to work on due to my interest in photography despite a complete lack of skills.

Home to the indigenous Galo tribe, Basar and its adjoining areas isn’t exactly a thriving metropolis. However, as in elsewhere in this state, much (if not the entirety) of its commercial life is operated and dependent on a large number of migrants from different parts of the country.

Businesses aside, there is also a high proportion of migrants who are also employed in several organisations, government offices, and/or working with religious organisations.

As it often happens with those of us who identify as being ‘indigenous’ to the land, many of the people I met held a singular identity for me, although in reality each of them has a story to tell.

Some of the subjects were born and lived their entire lives in Basar alone, while many have even married into Galo families. The images I captured don’t do justice to their lives and is perhaps a reflection of my myopic view: That the migrant among us lives his life in monochrome.

(Camera: OnePlus 6)

Disclosure: Basic editing done in Google Snapseed.

 

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PoV: Hornbill, Nagaland

 

Held for ten days beginning on December 1 that marks Nagaland’s Statehood Day, the annual Hornbill Festival is an extravaganza that showcases the culture of the 16 tribes that call the state home. While the festival has put the state on the global map, attracting tourists from near and far, the realities of the state marred with crumbling infrastructure and rampant corruption has left many local residents giving the festival a miss. (Photo locations: Kisama, Kohima and Dimapur.)

 

Image 1

A view of Kohima town.

 

Image 2

Monpa Yak Dance performers from Arunachal Pradesh alongside the Zeliang of Nagaland perform in sync at the Hornbill Festival.

 

Image 3

Young Naga men watch cultural performances at the amphitheatre in Kisama Heritage Village, the site of the annual extravaganza.

 

Image 4

A man from the Konyak tribe stands guard outside the representational Morung- dormitories traditionally meant for bachelors- at Kisama.

 

Image 5

Konyak Naga warriors.

 

Image 6

A traditional rice milling apparatus of the Kuki tribe made from wood.

 

Image 7

Women of the Pochury Naga tribe from Meluri Village weaving clothes at the Craftscape section of the Hornbill Festival. The cotton processing system is called Akükhie Ngunü Küto.

 

Image 8

A photo exhibition providing a glimpse of the contents of ‘The Konyaks- Last of the Tattooed Headhunters’, a book by Phejin Konyak and Peter Bos chronicling the last batch of Konyak Headhunters and women from the community who would tattoo their bodies in the days of yore. A practice that was abandoned after the introduction of Christianity.

 

Image 9

The Kohima War Cemetery honours the memory of over 2000 men who laid their lives in the Battle of Kohima, fending off Japanese forces during the Second World War. The Battle of Kohima is often termed as Stalingrad of the East and lasted from 4 April to 22 June 1944 and saw heavy casualties from both sides as Naga tribesmen fought alongside British-Indian forces. Had the battle fallen favourably for the Japanese forces, the global map as we know it, may have looked very different. This, along with the Battle of Imphal fought in Manipur, has been recognised as ‘Britain’s Greatest Battle’ by the British National Army Museum.

 

Image 10

Some graves at the Cemetery are unmarked and unnamed but not forgotten. Most died when they were barely into their twenties.

 

Image 11

A woman selling hens and roosters beside a street in Nagaland’s capital Kohima. As with most tribal and indigenous societies across India’s Northeast, it is the women who keep the local economy running through their hard work.

 

Image 12

While the Hornbill Festival dazzles tourists with colourful cultural displays, signs that not all is glorious with the state of affairs of Nagaland are also visible. Student bodies have been at loggerheads with the state government since last year over delays in disbursement of students’ scholarships. The state government has cited lack of funds as causing the delay and has begun rolling out stipends in instalments.

 

Image 13

A poster on a monolith in Kohima reads (written in the lingua franca- Nagamese): Directorate of Higher Education, Students are suffering. Where is our stipend? – Eastern Nagaland College Students’ Union.

 

Image 14

Road conditions in the state leave much to be desired and the annual layering work done before Hornbill Festival hasn’t impressed citizens. Many young people call it ‘applying lipstick on the road’.

 

Image 15

Apart from the condition of the road, traffic is a perennial problem in Kohima and traffic jams can sometimes last for hours and stretch for more than three kilometres.

 

Image 16

Rains had left large stretches of the Dimapur-Kohima road muddy leading to many taxi drivers hiking up rates for passengers or simply refusing to go at all. While the road was reportedly ‘repaired’ just days before the festival began, construction work meant that it was bound to be prone to slush.

 

Image 17

Along the Dimapur-Kohima highway are several basic restaurants that serve some of the best food one can find. The menus of some places even list ‘rural meat’- code for game meat that can include anything from wild boar to venison.

 

Image 18

As in other states of the Northeast, the influx of Bangladeshi immigrants (whether real or perceived) is seen as a major threat to indigenous communities in Nagaland too. Referred to as Illegal Bangladeshi Immigrants (IBIs), calls for deportation of the alleged illegal immigrants have been gaining momentum of late. However, proving the nationality of those perceived to be illegals is easier said than done and is made more complex by the large population of Bengali-speaking Muslims who work in Nagaland’s commercial hub of Dimapur where citizens from outside the state do not require inner line permits.

 

Got God?

God for sale

At a time when Arunachal Pradesh finds itself the primary subject of debates and discussions on prime time television, for many people, life goes on. Here, at a busy market in the state capital, Itanagar, Papon from Silchar from the neighbouring state of Assam sells his wares- portraits of gods of different religions- as people await the fate of the state’s political future which will be decided by the Supreme Court in New Delhi. Seeing Papon sitting quietly, surrounded by pictures of Jesus and Shiva seemed both natural and strange because, well, this is India. A narrative of India that is frequently lost in the politics of hate and bigotry. On the reflection of the mirrors can be seen the sculpture of a head of a mithun, the bovine animal that finds itself the subject of an unnecessary controversy.  (Taken on January 31, 2016 at Ganga Market, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh)

Faked, edited HDR-ised pics of bugs and things

The following pictures were taken with my Nokia Lumia 920 camera phone and were later edited with the Fantasia Painter app in HDR mode. I am NOT a photographer and know little about the art. Just wanted to showcase how apps can be extremely helpful for some pretty trippy pics.

Doing the Turtle.

Doing the Turtle.

Was it a hopper?

Was it a hopper?

Camouflage.

Camouflage.

Plastic almost, no.

Plastic almost, no?

He was jealous.

He was jealous.

Holy Hopper.

Holy Hopper.

Lost your marble yet?

Lost your marble yet?

The big 'O'.

The big ‘O’.

Trippy fungus.

Trippy fungus.

What am I looking for?

What am I looking for?