For the past two months I have been living in a grassroots hospital in Mungeli, Chhattisgarh. Mungeli is a rural area almost an hour from the nearest town. I came to know abut this place through my college who created an internship program in collaboration with the Christian Hospital Mungeli. Six Denison students were selected on this trip. I am the only Indian (and the only male) which makes our dynamic very interesting. I am used to the poverty, the assumed unequal gender roles, spicy food, and lack of toilet paper. Therefore for me the elements were very mundane but these five women became very interesting subjects. I was fascinated by the things they made them exclaim. From the over abundance of cows on the road to the lack of any sort of urban planning.
I met them at Delhi Airport after their 16 hour trip from the US. I therefore saw them go from a modern setting to complete rurality. I could see the cultural shock taking place from the kinds of conversations they had, the questions they asked me, and the images that were posted up on social media. Poverty is a difficult thing to work with. Everybody knows that it exists and have seen the stereotypical pictures, but not many have experienced it. These five ladies have experienced it and I think it is immensely brave that they embarked on this journey. I do hope that the conversions, images and feelings that they take back are unique. That they are different than the ones that you get to see in magazines and movies like Slumdog Millionaire. Because while we can comment on the filth on the road and the cows littered everywhere, it is important to know that people do live like this. People like us will come, observe, and go but the true residents of this space will still remain here. And they are somewhat content. They are able to see beyond the lack of resources to abundance of life that they still have to live. I am confident that these five ladies will go back home to an experience that they may never be able to explain in simple words, but the words they choose would be well thought, honest, and true to the real beauty that they experienced in Mungeli.
I love taking pictures and one of my projects here has been to look for beauty. I think that rural India has immense beauty and that as a citizen, it’s almost my duty to find it. Here are some of the images are my attempts at showing this beauty:
Photoshoot with children from the neighboring school
The door to village home
The view from my rooftop
The door to a beauty parlor
The respite of the whole village. Water Buffaloes et al.
To see more pictures like these, follow me on Instagram!