You’re viewing a version of this story optimized for slow connections. To see the full story click here.

Made in India.

A Photo Journey

Story by Ali Ansary April 17th, 2014

Faces of Mumbai

Walking through the streets of Mumbai, I realized the faces you come across all tell a different story. From the man who plays Frogger on his bicycle through the packed rush hour traffic to the Taiwanese tourists, everyone has a starting and ending point. I enjoyed the candy man and was blown away to see fresh shirts being pressed with a coal heated iron. A fresh shave was welcomed on every corner. The fruits and vegetables were always beautifully displayed in the evening markets. Religion is a central theme and the devout can be seen illustrating their faith in different ways.

However, in India, if you’re not working then you are looking for work.

Mumbai DholbiGhat3.jpg
Mumbai Taiwanese 1.jpg
Mumbai Veggie 1.jpg

We are Visitors

India is home to all and to none. Drew, the Scotsman who sits perched with a smoke in hand recovering from a full day of snowboarding, and David, the French Canadian, come to Gulmarg, Kashmir to indulge in unremarkable backcountry snow for three months straight. The famous Jama Masjid attracts millions of visitors each year to Old Delhi. We can be visitors to a sugar plant where the heat makes the sweetest of places feel like Hell on Earth.
We are visitors to places we don’t want to be. One of the most painful places can be at a hospital. Here a group of women have traveled from their local village to come and support one of their own being treated for her cancer. We are visitors to a patient’s home, where palliative care nurses in Calicut, Kerala care for patients every day to ensure they are receiving the proper follow up in their own homes. The modern Rajasthani man is a visitor to Delhi, because to him Rajasthan is the “heart of the world.” Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete visitors section without encountering some beautiful and entertaining Japanese tourists.
I am a visitor.

Children in India

India has 440 million children. Twice the population of the United States. Every fifth child in the world is Indian. It wasn’t hard after only a few days to begin to see the grim realities that rested before the rest of my adventure. After riding on a motorcycle through the streets of Pune, I immediately saw two young girls holding each other tightly, deep asleep on a median of a heavy traffic intersection. Heavy stares made a photo that only spanned 5 seconds to take feel like hours. In the heart of Mumbai rests the world’s largest open air laundromat, Dhobi Ghat, where wash pens and detergent filled waters clean the new and old clothes of the city. Through its dark corridors rests a boy whose sole responsibility is to fold washed fabrics which will be shipped throughout the country.
A young boy takes responsibility for his brother and mother to cook their evening meals on the streets. A sight that is uncommon but not rare. Three inspiringly beautiful deaf young ladies strike a pose as we shared a samosa. Around the corner a 16 yr old girl digs into the deep trenches of a new road being constructed. While some boys go to class in the morning, others prepare for the afternoon session. Another boy poses on the couches he sells along the street. There were of course laughter while two twin girls explore my glasses. Finally, a boy making fresh squeezed lemonade in Old Delhi strikes a perfect pose. I was told he was 15, but he couldn't have been older than 8.
Mumbai DholbiGhat2.jpg
Footnote: To travel India alone is to stimulate all six senses, ayatana: vision, sound, taste, smell, touch and mindfulness