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Dostana (Hindi: दोस्ताना, translation: Friendship)
Did you ever like a place enough to return to it?
This weekend I was doing my fall file cleaning and came across some India photographs that I thought I’d share. Every so often, I revisit old photographs to see if they still resonate with me the way they did when I first took them. This particular series, Dostana (meaning Friendship in Hindi) is brief and came about simply when I met some children who lived in the neighboring backstreets of Varanasi’s ghats. This series wasn’t an immediate favorite of mine (reason: some have technical flaws); it took a while for me to realize why I kept wanting to come back to it, despite its imperfections. I figured out later- what captivated me was the resolute and truthful expressions on the faces of the children in them and how it conveyed the hardened lifestyle they lead.
In fact, it was two years (and a week) ago that India had accidentally turned into my crash course as a solo traveler in a developing country. Shri Varanasi was my teacher and she wasn’t easy.
In an old blog post, I wrote (of one of the boys in the photos):
“Today, the father (or older brother) of a young boy, Rajesh, I was photographing walked straight in front of my camera and gave the child a hard slap on the cheek, shocking both, myself, the child and a group of friends who had gathered around us. [*Only days later, I realized that it’s probable that it was due to the boy, Rajesh & his sister’s insistence of me entering their home to take pictures of them in front of their altar that was the reason for such punishment].” –Varanasi Stains
No. She was very hardcore, raw, rough and at times, very ugly and frightening. But somewhere in my short time there, Varanasi got under my skin like a drug and her raw truth transformed into something very beautiful; admirable even. Today, she occasionally breathes inside me; like hearing a distant call, I find myself sometimes returning to her in my memory with a desire to relive her grit. That said, while I may not know my immediate future with Korea, I already know my future with India. I’m looking to return to India upon the break in my contract. Fingers crossed. I’ll be visiting new places but also returning to Varanasi. Why? I’m still not quite sure. But that’s how I can tell if I really like a place… enough to return.
Have you ever liked a place enough to return to it?
- • Ghat Life in Varanasi
• Varanasi’s Humorous Underbelly Tour
• Varanasi Stains
• The Lessons of a first-time Solo Traveler in India
• Video: “Sunrise on the Ganges”, Varanasi
• Video: Varanasi’s Ganga Aarti
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