9 Jan 2008

personal histories

saw an exhibition at the Habitat
where a daughter had collected and arranged
photographs, films and memorabilia of her parents
over twenty years

i've always believed that we Indians are very reluctant
to discuss our recent history or family histories
through art, writings or photographs
most of what passes as personal histories consists of articles written
on the back pages of magazines
and constitute random thoughts put together by an individual
which we are not able to relate to
since they do not trigger any of our memories

(of course there is a the age old debate
that most such histories
are written by the elite for the elite
but that's another blog)

i still remember reading Motiba's Tattoos by Mira Kamdar
a well researched book about the life of her father's Gujrati family
and their migration from a remote village
to Burma and then to Bombay
events which happened many years before she was born

somewhere in the middle of the book
looking at the family photographs
i realized the writer
was a white woman (her mother was white)
and then i went back thru the story again
trying to figure how was she able to piece the entire story
of a different generation
having lived in a different country and culture
her entire life

while there are some indian born authors
whose work on their families i like
Ved Mehta who writes about growing up
about India at the cusp of Independence
but in other cases most of them use their family histories
to transport their writings to another level

why i find personal histories
and photographs interesting is that
most of us do not lead lives
or take photographs
with history
or the next generation in mind
(yes i do remember being dragged to a family photograph at get togethers
but these are rare)
and yet they become part of history

which is why this exhibition
is a new experience
try and catch it
who knows what memories it might trigger?

1 comment:

Teekay said...

I did go to the exhibition on your behest...at the end of it I felt a quiet anger...this one should have been subtitled...A life of Privilege...While there were people who were being murdered, did not have anythig to eat and fought for Independence these guys found time to Romance,drove across the border in cars and flew abroad...they lived in a more 'Gracious Time'...Privelge always looks at the world through rosy glasses...Think Marie Antoinette...think SAhir and the Taj!!!