Last week, the New Yorker's Instagram account brought beautiful memories of India in the 1850's back to life with some stunning black and white photographs captured of the ordinary people in the era with the help of a Mumbai-based photographer and curator Anusha Yadav. Yadav had started an online project (titled Indian Memory Project) in 2010 to present Indian history through archived content in the form of photographs and letters.
“The basic idea was that if you put several pictures together, you can trace the history of a country, or of the world,” said Yadav in an interview with Quartz. “In my case, I just chose to trace the history of the country through personal stories and photographs.”
Yadav posted a set of specially-chosen photographs that feature "simple stories, but those which have a powerful impact," on New Yorker's instagram feed all of last week (featured below). More information on the Indian Memory Project can be found on their website here.
Image & Text by Anusha Yadav, Mumbai These are images of my mother and her sisters, holding their degrees with pride. Some of these were also used as matrimonial pictures. All the sisters (Left to right) Kusum, Madhavi, Suman, Aruna, Shalini and Nalini were born between 1935 – 1946 in Agra in Uttar Pradesh. My eldest aunt Kusum (left most), committed suicide in 1967, yet no one spoke of it until 2009. My youngest aunt Nalini (bottom right) eloped from home to marry a man she had fallen in love; (very scandalous for a conservative Indian family). The rest led quieter lives, doing what was prescribed at the time for ‘good’ Indian women to do All sisters were well educated - some even triple degree holders, in Bachelors, Masters and Diplomas in Science, History, Economics, Dance, Arts, Painting and Teaching. Each one was formally trained in Tailoring, Embroidery, Shooting, First Aid, Swimming, Horse-riding, Music, Dance, Crafts and Cooking It still baffles me that except for one, Aruna (bottom left) not one sought to form careers of their own. My aunts conjecture that it was due to protective brothers, and it wasn't an era appropriate for single women to work before marriage. - Not that given a choice, they would actively pursue a career, because the man earned and the women, they took care of households. That was the norm. But they were all feisty, fiercely talented and ensured that we received at least some of their knowledge from the time we could walk. We were encouraged to read Hindi and English literature, we were trained in classical/ folk music & dances, embroidery, painting and cooking. By the 1980s the tide was turning. More women from middle-class economic backgrounds had begun working to generate a second income. I wasn't very good at academics, so my second eldest aunt ensured that I was sent for typing, short-hand and beauty parlour lessons. She believed at the least, if I could not be a good secretary, 'beauty was always going to be in business'. For all the lessons, important or amusing, I will be grateful to them ---- This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Presenting India's history via photos & persona stories.By @photowaali Anusha Yadav
Image & Text by Amita Bajaj, Mumbai. This is a picture of my grandparents, uncles aunts on my parents' wedding day Jullandhar, Punjab in 1958. My grandfather was a famous & well off Doctor. He and my grandmother had 3 sons. The youngest was my father. In 1947, Partition was imminent, & my uncle tried to convince my grandmother to sell her savings - stacks of silver bricks in the basement of their mansion, in sialkot, now Pakistan but my grandmother refused “People will say that we are bankrupt!”. On August 14, 1947, the family saw police running away from rioters & it was time to leave. A few days later, with some of their valuables, they crossed River Ravi to Amritsar, India with 2 trunks – one with gold jewellery and the other with silver. The trunk with the silver fell in the river and got lost in the sea of people fleeing to and from Pakistan & India, both. My grandparents’ savings, their mansion & the silver bricks were lost forever, except for the trunk with gold that reached India. My mother, the bride in the picture, is wearing a set from that trunk. By 1950, the family had settled in Jullunder (now Jalandhar) where my grandfather was given a mansion of a muslim Judge who had left for Pakistan in 1947. The mansion was “claim property” (in lieu of the property worth Millions left behind in Pakistan). One day in 1958 the family witnessed a huge crowd outside their mansion with scores of policemen, jeeps, trucks and cars with dark window curtains. Apparently the original owners of the mansion, two women from Pakistan with all requisite permissions & police from both countries had come to claim assets they had left behind. My grandmother shaking with anger and disbelief, led the way. Nearing an alcove, the ladies knocked a make shift wall down to reveal an 18” tall glass shade of a candelabra crammed to the brim with gold & stone-studded jewellery, gold & silver coins. Everyone froze in awe & shock. The Pakistani ladies took their treasure back, a decade after the bloodiest partition in history, where over one million people lost their lives. Perhaps only a few recovered what they lost. .....This is @indianmemoryproject India by @photowaali Anusha Yadav
Image and Text contributed by Abhijit Das Gupta, Kolkata This image is of my swimming trainer Nalin Malik (left) with my father and me in Calcutta (now Kolkata), West Bengal. It was photographed in 1950. I was about four years old. My Father used to take me to the swimming club in Dhakuria lake (renamed Rabindra Sarovar). The pool in the club doesn’t exist anymore. People used to say that Nalin Malik did not swim – he mowed the water apart. What is not known well is that Nalin represented British India in the 1932 Olympics held in Los Angeles, USA . He never had any formal training, infact he was so poor that he could not even afford full meals. My uncle, Pankaj Gupta spotted Nalin swimming in the Ganges. Pankaj Gupta was a sports administrator and also began his career with the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He was a manager and coach to the Indian contingent and managed several sports events across Europe and the USA. Nalin Malik stood fourth in the 400 Meters Swimming Heat 4. He swam without even a proper swimming costume. The unfortunate part is that Nalin remained an unacknowledged, secluded, and a very lonely man whom no one remembered or paid tribute to. I, however, have fond memories of him. He was a very tough trainer. On this day in a cold December of 1950 he made me cross the lake. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator - Anusha Yadav - @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image & text by Muzammil Hussain Munshi, Kargil, Ladakh This is my great grandfather Munshi Aziz Bhat & his sons, Munshi Habibullah and Munshi Abdul Rehman, at their shop on a usual business day in 1945. My great grandfather, Last of the Great Silk route traders of India, was born in Leh in 1866 and was brought up in Kargil. He had 4 wives &15 kids. Munshi Bhat was my paternal as well as maternal great grandfather. My parents are first cousins, children of his sons in the photograph. Marriage between cousins was normal in many cultures of the world, including ours. Eponymous with its most valued piece of trade, Silk from China, the Silk Route in fact traded every possible item for daily & luxury use. Goods were despatched to and received from Europe, Asia and Africa on Horseback, Donkey, Mule, Yak and foot. Kargil was one of the key feeder routes of the Silk Route. Munshi Aziz Bhat rose to become a pioneer Silk Route Trader from 1880-1950. In 1920, he established his own large trading business & shops. Imported from Europe, the shop sold toiletries, stationery, cosmetics, medicines, spices, textiles and shoe polish, which was considered a luxury item. It also sold horse and camel accessories for animals that like cars today, were status symbols. Soon the shop earned itself a local folklore that “one could even find Birds’ Milk at the Munshi Aziz Bhat Sarai”. He also built the first ever Inn in Kargil for traders, the Aziz Bhat Sarai which still stands by the banks of river Suru today. The Silk Route trade saw its lasts days during the Partition of India, and the uprising in China, and all trade routes were shut down. My great grandfather passed away in 1948 just one year after the closure of the Silk Route. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by- Anusha Yadav - @photowaali
Image and text contributed by Dinesh Khanna, Gurgaon This is an Hand painted photograph of my maternal grandparents, Lahore, (Now Pakistan). 1923. It was hand painted in New York in 2000. My grandfather Balwant Goindi, a Sikh and my grandmother Ram Pyari, a Hindu were married in 1923. She was re-named Mohinder Kaur after her marriage . They went on to have eight daughters and two sons, one of the daughters happens to be my mother. Balwant Goindi owned a whiskey Shop in Lahore. He was a wealthy man and owned a Rolls Royce. During Indo-Pak Partition, he and his family migrated to Simla, without any of his precious belongings; assuming like a millions of other people, that he would return after the situation had calmed down. However, that never happened. After moving around, and attempting to restart his business with other Indian trader friends, they finally settled down in Karol Bagh in Delhi. The area was primarily residential with a large Muslim population until the exodus of many to Pakistan and an influx of refugees from West Punjab after India Pakistan partition in 1947, many of whom were traders. It must have been a very sad day when he heard that his home and his shops in Lahore were burnt down. ………… .. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator - Anusha Yadav - @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image and Text contributed by Anisha Jacob Sachdev, New Delhi. This picture with my mother Anupa Jacob, standing right (nee Nathaniel) and her friend Shalini when they were in school at Convent of Jesus & Mary in Delhi in 1962. They were around 15 years old. My mother was a Rajasthani, from the small town near Ajmer. Her father was orphaned when a plague hit the village, he and many others were then adopted by the British. Everyone adopted was converted to Christianity and given the last name ‘Nathaniel’. From Nathu Singh, my grandfather became Fazal Masih Nathaniel. He went on to become the Head of the English Language Department at Mayo College, in Rajasthan My mother married my father Philip Jacob, in 1968. He is a Syrian Christian – whom she met while she was studying at school at the age of 15. One of the most interesting parts of my mother’s life was that Shalini, some other friends and she, formed the first ever Delhi University‘s Girl Rock Band called “Mad Hatter” in their 1st year of college at Miranda House. It is so far the first known girl band of India, as we no knowledge of anything earlier, yet. My mother was the lead guitarist and singer. Family stories say that , when the Beatles came in Delhi in 1966, the Mad Hatters even got to meet them. My mother had four kids. She was also a piano teacher, and her youngest child and my youngest sister Arunima is autistic but an ace piano player and has performed Beethoven Music pieces with complete accuracy. My mother suffered a cardiac arrest in 1982, and passed away in 1986. Shalini, my mother’s friend in the photograph (left) is now a psychologist in London. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator - Anusha Yadav - @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image and text contributed by Mrudula Prabhuram Joshi, Bombay This photograph taken in 1935, Bombay (Mumbai) is of a beautiful woman , Sharda Pandit, a scion of a Maharashtrian aristocrat family.. She was born in Rajkot, Gujarat. She was hailed as the ‘Beauty Queen’ of Elphinstone College of Bombay, in fact of all collegians of the city; because Bombay (now Mumbai) had only three colleges at that time – Elphinstone, Wilson and St. Xavier’s. She possessed a kind of serene beauty, singular charm and grace. Her contemporaries from other colleges would drop by just to have a glimpse of this icon of beauty. Not only was she beautiful to look at, she possessed a beautiful heart, too. At that time, there were only a handful of women students in the colleges, most of whom were from middle-class families. Sharda would get along amicably with everyone despite her wealthy family background. She acted as the heroine of several plays during the college years, for the Annual College Day functions. Sharda and my mother, Kamini Vijaykar were classmates and that is how I came to know about her. Later on, Sharda married Subroto Mukherjee, the first Air Chief Marshal of the Indian Air Force in 1939. After his untimely death in 1960, she devoted herself to social service and political activism. For some time, she was also the Governor of Andhra Pradesh from 1977-1978 and then the Governor of Gujarat from 1978 to 1983. She kept herself busy with several constructive activities. She was beyond 90 years of age when she passed away, but preserved her inner and outer beauty till the very last. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator - Anusha Yadav - @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image and text contributed by Vani Subramanian, New Delhi This is a picture of my maternal grandparents, in Tamil called Paati (grandmother) and Thatha (grandfather) Her name was Lokanayaki and he was RR Hariharan, from Ravanasamudram, Thirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu. (south India) This image was photographed Circa 1920. He worked with the Indian Railways, and she raised her five children between Delhi and Shimla, learning Hindi and the ways of the ‘north’ as she went along. This photograph was probably taken fairly soon after they were married. Even my mum who is now 72 years old doesn’t remember them like this at all. So in a sense, they are both familiar and strangers as they appear in the picture. But I do remember the photograph framed and hanging on the wall in the house that they retired to in the village. A house they moved in to the day I was born: 22 Jan 1965. My favourite part of the photograph is that Paati is wearing Mary Jane shoes and white socks with her nine yards saree. I never saw her in shoes in real life. As a matter of fact, I never saw my grandfather in a coat and tie, either. Though I am told that he wore a coat, tie, shoes and pants clipped with bicycle clips as he rode to work from Park Lane to the railway boards offices. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator - Anusha Yadav - @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image and text contributed by Geetali Tare, Simla, Himachal Pradesh. Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu, or C.K. Nayudu, as he is better known, was born in Nagpur in October 1895. He was the first captain of the Indian cricket team to play England in 1932. His playing career spanned six decades. Nayadu's father was a lawyer and landlord of several villages in Nagpur. He sent both his sons to England for further studies in Law. Nayadu was acclaimed for his physical prowess and known as Hercules in Cambridge varsity Campus. When he returned to India he served as Justice in High court of Holkar State for some years and functioned as Chief justice for some time. He made his debut in first class cricket 1916, playing for the Hindus against the Europeans. He played first-class cricket regularly until 1958, and then returned to the game for one last time in 1963 at the age of 68. He moved to Indore in 1923, on the invitation of Maharaja Holkar and would transform the Holkar team into one that would win many Ranji trophies. This picture was found in an old family album belonging to my uncle, Madhukar Dravid. My great-uncles Vasant Dravid and Narayan Dravid were great friends of Nayudu and his brother C.S. Nayudu. This picture was taken by my great-uncle, Vasant Dravid who is some manner also related to Rahul Dravid, a famous cricketer of Modern India . The year the photograph was taken is not known, but my uncle puts it around 1940. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator - Anusha Yadav - @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image & Text by Nyay Bhushan, New Delhi This is the only image of my great grand-father, Vasu Deva Sharma, in our family archives. It shows him as an artist in Berlin, Dressed in a well-tailored suit. Vasu Deva was one of the 3 indians of his time who studied at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London in the 1920s. This picture c. 1925, was taken by a German photographer, Karl Alexander Berg. The stamp under the image suggests that Berg was appointed to the German Royal Court. Vasu Deva was born in 1881 in what is now the Pakistani Punjab. In 1911 he became a Drawing Professor and in 1920, a 39 year old, Vasu Deva gave up his job after receiving a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. He sailed from Bombay to London on the ship Kaisar-I-Hind. After graduation Vasu Deva sent his graduation cap and gown to his family as his ‘earnings’. His final term file states: “Plodding, ambitious of improvement, industrious, this Indian student has taken full advantage of the methods & initiative a European School of Art can offer" Vasu Deva then embarked on a tour of Europe to study original works of art . Not much is known but that the travels spanned Scandinavia, France, Germany, Italy and Greece. It is possible that he worked as a commissioned artist to earn an extra income. To imagine a traveling Indian artist in Europe at an important time in the continent’s history makes my great grandfather’s story a fascinating adventure. In 1927, Vasu Dev returned to Lahore and became a well recognised artist with several royal & important patrons, and students. A year before the partition of India and Pakistan Vasu Deva Sharma passed away in 1946, at the age of 65. After his death, the family moved to India just before the nation wide partition riots of 1947. The 2 things that they saved of my great grandfather's were his original RCA diploma and this photograph. It is understood that the mansion was looted including his artworks. I am always looking for any surviving works by Vasu Deva Sharma, that could be in Europe, Pakistan & India ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject , India. Follow us as we present India's surprising visual history. By Anusha Yadav @photowaali
Image & Text by Anand Halve, Mumbai This is about a group of ‘Indians’ that will probably vanish before most Indians ever even hear of them. The Ongee or Onge tribe, are one of the indigenous Andamanese tribes. Until the late 1940s, the Ongees were the only permanent occupants of Little Andaman, the southernmost island in the Andaman group of 324 islands. The Non-Ongees began to settle on Little Andaman in large numbers in the early 1950s. Among the earliest visitors – in the early 1960s – was a seven year-old boy (me) and his six year-old sister Jyoti. My father, Bhaskar Halve was posted as the Deputy Commissioner of the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar. His job took him to study various islands and we were only too happy to tag along. The Ongees are traditionally a nomadic hunting and gathering tribe. I recall stories told to us by the sailors who visited the islands where the Ongees lived. The Ongees were masters of the bow – I recall watching an Ongee spear a fish through the refracted sea-water with his arrow. I recall stories of a strange plant whose leaves they chewed, and after rubbing the chewed juice on their bodies, were able to climb trees and pluck chunks of honeycombs, untroubled by the bees. I recall stories about the cannibal Jarawas (a tribe related to the Ongees), but the sailors laughingly told us that the Ongees were friendly. Yet you can see a certain trepidation in our expressions as we posed with Ongee kids for a photograph. However, they were friendly enough and we got along without knowing each other’s language, as only children can. It still makes me smile. As of recent information I believe there are fewer than 100 Ongees left, and with low fertility rates, are on the verge of disappearing forever into a footnote of history. But I hope there are a few old anonymous Ongees out there who remember playing with a couple of kids from the mainland... as I remember them. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com founded by @photowaali
Image & Text by Sunita Kriplani, Goa In 1947, after India and Pakistan's partition, my maternal grandparents migrated to India with their nine children, from Karachi, Pakistan and settled in Pune, Maharashtra. My mother Mohini, second of the seven sisters was just 16 at that time. My grandfather got a job in the Income Tax department and although times were tough, he ensured that the children were well educated. By the 1950s the sisters were well versed in household skills, especially stitching and embroidery. They fashioned their own clothes, copying designs from magazines and window displays of Pune markets. At home while they maintained decorum and modesty, ever so often, Duru, my mother’s younger sister, would coax her to come along with her to a photo studio called The Art Gallery to get their photographs taken secretly. Duru would pack ties and beads, scarves and skirts, hats and belts, and make-up, and then the two of them would mount their bicycles and head for the photo studio where they indulged their dreams and vanities in front of a camera with studio props and accessories. In this picture my mother is wearing “Awara pants”, a style made famous with the huge hit Hindi movie “Awara” and replicating the style of the movie’s female star Nargis, while nonchalantly holding a cigarette albeit unlit, between her fingers. After college, my mother got a job at the Department of Cooperation, Government of Maharashtra as one of the first few women in government service. She retired from the department in 1985 as the Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Bombay. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject , India. Follow us as we present India's surprising history through photographs & lives of its people. Indianmemoryproject.com is the world's first visual and narrative based archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives contributed by people from all over the world. Founded by - Anusha Yadav - @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image & Text by Sharat Sundar Rajeev, Kerala. This photograph shows my great- great grand father’s younger brother Govindan Achari with his grand nephews in 1930. Govindan Achari (c.1850-1944) was better known as ‘Govindan Kanakkukaran’ and ‘Valiya Mandravadi’ which indicated his position as a veteran Tantric - an occultist. Born and brought up in a small village that was a part of the princely state of Travancore, ( south India) Govindan came from a family that had since the 15th century followed tradition of training the youngest son of the family to become a Tantra and a Black magic practitioner. All of my tantric ancestors (8 we know of) were patronised by the Royal Family of Travancore even before they came into power and were recruited as royal physicians, astrologers, tantrics & black magicians for centuries to come. Govindan too like the rest of his ancestors was given a traditional education- studying Ayurveda, Tantra and Black Magic. Black magic entailed construing evil methods and powers, whereas Tantra itself is mistakenly identified as the practice of black magic & witchcraft. As a young man, Govindan travelled far and wide and mastered the traditional knowledge in Enlightenment and Ayurveda. However, Govindan gained more name as a Black magician, a witch doctor and an occultist. He led a celibate life as per tantric tradition and In his later years, settled in Thiruvananthapuram with his nephew’s family. He spent his last days composing Attakadhas (Gesture Storytelling) and teaching secret occult practices to his youngest nephew, Narayanan, the next in line to become a Tantric. Govindan attained Samadhi in 1944, while sitting on his cot. Narayanan too become a Tantric, however, stories from the family say that he never practiced black magic. After his death in 1970, my family abandoned the tradition of Tantra, making Narayanan the last tantric of our family. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject , India. Follow us as we present India's surprising history through photographs & lives of its people. all texts are edited to fit instagram's format. Indianmemoryproject.com is founded by Anusha Yadav @photowaali
Image & Text by Naresh Fernandes, Mumbai "The picture, from c. 1910, is of my grand-uncle Alec Cordeiro, fondly called Bunnu. Next to him is my Grand-aunt May & my Grandmother Beatrice. It isn’t clear how and when my ancestors got to Karachi (now Pakistan) but it seems that like most Goans, they went looking for work. There were family discussions about whether an ancestor had made his money running a booze joint. My grandfather, Alfred Fernandes, moved to Karachi from Burma during World War II after the Japanese invasion in 1941. In only a few years, the entire family pulled up their 4 generations old roots from the city to take their chances in India, just before #Partition. When we were children, we could have been forgiven for thinking that our great uncle's first name was “Poor”. That, was how my grandmother and her sisters referred to their brother each time he came up in conversation, “Ah, poor Bunnu,” they’d sigh about their Cambridge-educated sibling who’d chosen to stay put in Karachi at Partition. The somewhat embarrassed tone in which his 3 sisters talked about him left Bunnu obscured by a whiff of mystery–even scandal. Evidently, Bunnu had refused to return to Karachi because he’d fallen in love with an Englishwoman. His mother, Mary, who wanted him to marry a Goan, was horrified. She “picked up her skirts and took the next boat to England”. The conclave was divided on what happened next. Either my great-grandmother “grabbed his ear and dragged him right back home” or “he sent her back home, but promised to return”. At any rate, Bunnu was back in Karachi by the mid-1930s and would remain a Karachi Goan Association Bar fixture for the rest of his life. Uncle Bunnu never married, held a job for long, or saw his sisters after 1947. Later he moved into an old folks home in Karachi and passed away in 1984. I’d always thought that Uncle Bunnu had drunk himself to death, but considering that he was 80 when he died, he didn’t do it very efficiently. " ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject , India. Follow us as we present India's surprising history through photographs & lives of its people. Indianmemoryproject.com founded by @photowaali Anusha Yadav.
Image and Text contributed by Nihaal Faizal, Bangalore This is an image of my great-grandparents, Haleema Hashim with her husband Hashim Usman. Cochin (now Kochi), Kerala, c. 1955. My Great-grandmother Haleema Hashim was born in Burma in 1928, and when she was 4, the family migrated to Kerala, India, her ancestral land. Her family belonged to the Kutchi Memon community of Gujarat. Kutchi Memons are Sunni Muslims from Sindh (in Pakistan) who migrated to Kutch, Gujarat after their conversion to Islam. At the age of 17 she married Hashim Usman, whose family business was Sea food exports. They had eight children, one of whom is my maternal grandfather. After her marriage, my great grandmother Haleema whom I call 'Ummijaan' began to develop an interest in photography and taught herself the craft via books & magazines. She had 2 cameras, an Agfa Isolette 3, her first, and then a Yashica. I am told that her brother would take the negatives to a studio to have them developed for her. Her photographs featured relatives as well as brides-to-be women from the Kutchi Memon community. Many of also featured her children, and especially her identical twin daughters Kiran and Suman. She would position her children in varying poses, create sets in and around the house and her garden, with furniture and home-ware props. Ummijaan, never practiced professionally, nor do I think she was in an environment where photography was encouraged, but perhaps it was the very reason she could practice and experiment with no intervention. She continued photographing for 25 years , which has now comprised into an enormous body of work. Standing not very encouraged, Ummijaan gradually gave up photography and assuming that the images had no value and no one would be interested, she burnt all her negatives down. But I did find hundreds of her prints. Ummijaan is now 88 years old, she doesn’t keep too well and her memory is almost lost. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. presenting Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited. www.indianmemoryproject.com founded by @photowaali Anusha Yadav
Image & Text by Rakesh Anand Bakshi, Mumbai On October 2, 1947 my 17-year old father Anand Bakshi’s family was informed that their colony in Rawalpindi (now Pakistan) was going to be attacked. They had only minutes to grab personal effects and valuables before fleeing overnight. On reaching Delhi, India, my grandfather took stock of all that the family had managed to carry. Upon seeing what my father had carried, he was livid. My father Anand had carried what he had thought were valuables, a few photographs; and particularly those of his mother whom he had lost when he was nine. On being yelled at, my father said – “Money we can earn, but if these photos of her were lost, no amount of money could ever bring them back for me. Pictures of her are all I have.” This photo is one from the few my father managed to save. It has My father, Anand Prakash Bakshi as a child with his parents in Rawalpindi. (now Pakistan). Circa 1935 Post partition, he joined the Indian Army. In 1950 a poem of his was published in the Army publication ‘Sainik Samachar’. That gave him the confidence to try his luck as a songwriter in Hindi films in Bombay, a dream he had long harboured. But it took two failed attempts and many years of struggle before my father, Anand Bakshi, got established. Post 1967 he never lacked work until he passed away in 2002. He had by then written nearly 3300 Hindi song lyrics, for nearly 630 movies. Some of his top songs, like “Dum Maro Dum”, found cult status. Sometimes I wonder what made my father survive the loss of his mother, his land of birth, his youth, and lead an impoverished life for nearly two decades. The secret may lie in what he always said - “There is something inside of me superior to my circumstances, stronger than every situation of life.” ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject , India. Follow us as we present India's surprising history through photographs & lives of its people. Indianmemoryproject.com is the world's first visual and narrative based archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives contributed by people from all over the world. Founded by - Anusha Yadav - @photowaali