Going Back to Kashmir

May 13, 2009 | By Andy Spyra | News

Getty Images
Picture by Andy Spyra

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…

Getty Images
Picture by Andy Spyra

Getty Images
Picture by Andy Spyra

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.

Getty Images
Picture by Andy Spyra

Getty Images
Picture by Andy Spyra

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.

Getty Images
Picture by Andy Spyra
Getty Images
Picture by Andy Spyra

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.

Getty Images
Picture by Andy Spyra

Getty Images
Picture by Andy Spyra

Getty Images
Picture by Andy Spyra

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.

More posts by this author

  • COL. A.M.Khajawall [Ret]

    By: Colonel A.M. Khajawall {Ret}, MD. ABFM., ABDA.
    “Great grand gestures-Yes. Grand posturing-No!”
    And
    “For the triumph of evil it is necessary that the concerned people do nothing”
    Dear loggers, editors and readers

    As the spokesman of Kashmir American Mission categorically announce that the announced Kashmir Elections are being simply orchestrated and conducted to dupe and deceive the world. Sadly. the elections always meant to deprive the occupied and oppressed people of Kashmir the freedom.The elections processes are always meant to deny and delay the occupied and oppressed people of Kashmir to decide their future freely, fairly without any fear and favour.

    Kashmir has been and is militarized like a massive concentration camp on the Top of the world.
    In this environment of massive concentration camp scenario of any election will be free and fair is one more big, sad, and tragic joke played onto “Tormented People of Kashmir .”
    Sadly the participants, announcers and planners of this futile, fictitious, and farce election exercise have little or no concern about the over one billion people of Indo-Kash-Pak region.

    The sensibility and sanity of sincere people of Indo-Kash-Pak region who will look for the future of over one billion people caught up in this personal, partisan political brinkmanship and posturing at the cast of your freedom, dignity, and honour.

    Above observations and suggestions are made by every fibre of my body, heart, and brain and with sure sadness. The parties to conflict are simply playing with your future and rest of over one billion people of the region.

    Let me assure you that the day is not too far away when the virtuous, wise, and visionary people will work hand in hand and remove your and their thorn [s] once for all.
    Long live people of Kashmir, India, Pakistan, and rest of the world.
    The solution is tripartite dialogue with the help of impartial and committed world powers and leaders. The Line to Control which is The Line of Conflict has to go and sooner the better. The beautiful and better way to bring peace to people of Kashmir and Indo-Pak region is summarized as PTP [Peace Thru Plebiscite]. or at the round table. The world and We [USA] can help.

    India has for last 62 years delayed this process and no India is playing terrorism card. I am sure our new president barrack Hussain Obama will motivate the parties to solve this core kashmir issue amicably, peacefully, and permanently.
    Submitted sincerely for publications.
    COL. Ali M. Khajawall, [Retd] MD, ABFM. ABDA
    PS: Enjoy your home, homeland, and biggest concentration camp on the top of world.

  • nicole

    I just wanted to say I love the images you’ve taken. They are amazing. Thx.

  • Jamie Penney

    Andy is one of the current student winners (along with Maximiliano Braun) of the Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography-
    http://www.gettyimages.com/grants

    This is the first year that Getty Images has added a student category to our grant program and we were thrilled to have 2 immensely talented young winners. Andy began this project in 2006 and with the support of the grant he is continuing to document this highly volatile region, especially focusing on how the conflict is affecting the culture and daily life of the region’s inhabitants.

    Please check back on this blog for further images from Andy and also from some of our other Grant winners.

    Jamie Penney
    Photo Editor
    Getty Images
    jamie.penney@gettyimages.com

  • Dighe Sunil

    i just wonder all the images are from Kashmir, because in 2 images we can see Gujarati Script on the back ground wall. i think this pictures may be from Godhara or any other place of Muslim Dominated area in Gujarat. i think it will be clarified bythe snapper himself

    Dighe Sunil

  • http://none Yawar

    As a Photographer working in Kashmir for the last 9 years now i m 100% sure these pix are all from Kashmir Mr Dighe Sunile i even know the places where photographer have taken these pix

    Yawar Nazir