Going Back to Kashmir
Salaam Aleikum! After six months I’m finally back in Kashmir and pretty busy visiting friends and organizing some stuff for the upcoming weeks. It definitely feels good to be here again, although the ride up to here by train and sumo was one of the worst trips I’ve ever made. I got some bad food in Delhi and spent almost the whole night vomiting in the toilet of the train. Anyone who has ever traveled in an Indian train knows that there are far more comfortable places to spend your nights. But, then again, there’s no reason to complain, I’m finally back and it feels right to be here again.
Although, this time it’s different than it was a half a year ago during the uprising. The atmosphere in the city has somehow changed, you can almost see it in the faces of the people which seem to be just more friendly and relaxed than some months ago. The mood is changing with every day I’m here. I’ve attached some private images to give you a little idea of how a typical Kashmiri home in Srinagar looks like. It’s a bit like in south Germany, although the people are sitting on the ground and eat with their fingers…
It’s the beginning of the elections and the separatist leaders called for an election-boycott and a 50 hour strike, beginning this evening. So again, the strange atmosphere, this kind of invisible tension in the air, is coming back. It’s pretty difficult to catch it visually, there is nothing particular going on, it’s just this feeling in the air that something might (and probably will) happen in the upcoming days. However, no one knows what is going to happen and to what extent.
Kashmir is a weird place with a sometimes challenging duality of life. On my first Friday in town, I was roaming around in one of the hot spot areas where usually after the Friday prayers some protest is going on. It’s possible to walk in one street and watch the normal life going on as people go shopping and the kids are playing cricket and just a few streets down the road there will be stone-pelting and the well-known smell of tear gas in the air.
That day I refused to shoot the protest again, instead I’m trying to work on a different approach. I had an interesting conversation with Balazs Gardi about the possibility of showing the conflict without the usual ingredients which I used in my story last year, like barbed wire and lots of crying and shouting people. I don’t want to sound cynical, but there’s nothing easier to shoot than protest. It’s difficult to get yourself into the situation (and respectively out of it again), but the images literally just jump into your camera. This time, I’ll at least try to get some different pictures out of the situation.
Despite my uncertainty about my own abilities to achieve my goals everything else is fine over here. I just visited some friends of mine, one of them has just become a mother of a little kashmiri, a handful of a human being, just 18 (and by the time you read this already 19) days old.
I am about to go out and shoot a bit of rainy Kashmir with my now sealed d700, with which I’m slowly becoming some kind of familiar. While I’m shooting, please enjoy life and I’ll try to update the blog with some images from the strike / elections / protest as soon as I can.