This little stone Tulsi (basil) shrine used to stand in a beautiful garden on the shore of the Paglachandi lake in West Bengal. Tulsi is a goddess. The shrine was washed away in a flood.
Marigolds suggest sun and warmth. I photographed these in a little front garden near where I live.
Wishing the protection of goddesses and the joy of marigolds to our Crown sisters in India.
For a year and a half I have been reading my mother’s diary, I recognize her in her doubts and impressions …
The notebooks from her diary are like carriages, and the reading itself is like a train journey, train journeys in Russia happen to be so long … My mother’s diary counts the days like the road counts landscapes in the windows of a train.
In her diary, my mother describes her travels – from Moscow to Voronezh, from Voronezh to Borisoglebsk, from Borisoglebsk to Moscow …
First, it was necessary to take a ticket, a whole gamble, between two cities, Voronezh and Borisoglebsk, a very small distance, but they, a Moscow schoolgirl and her grandmother, had to change three times, each time wait at the station, then look for places to sit in a carriage, two days in a row. And during the war, the road from Moscow to Tashkent took a whole month … Countless stops, sleeps without a chance to lie down, anticipation, excitement about what awaits them.
Stops, along the train, face to face to the windows, waiting for them, with pies, potatoes, this does not change, the train goes ahead, I look out the window …
Any grouping of people who have at one time been colonised : their territorial resources ; naturel and especially human, objectified by dominante possession, feel a particular kinship with other groups of people, carrying similar burdens of intergenerational trauma, even if the bloody civil war in the wake of partition, pans out some 7000kms from their own backyards.
That is an easy evident kinship, the kinships that try, are the keeping open of doors between ourselves and our coloniser siblings.
Two eyes, one nose and a mouth, no more nor less than those we instinctively recognise as own.
INDIAN WAVE 1 – In 2006 I left for my first trip to India with the hope of finding strength to change my life. First love journey to Mumbaï, in the chaos of the city, the peace of the island of Elephanta, and the sweetness of a beach filled then with recklessness. I had never seen those four hours of footage shot there before today. Here is a first extract – gesture extended to you, our Indian accomplices, as a sign of support during these epidemic times which affects your country more tragically than elsewhere.
For a year we have kept watch over the students whose rooms we look into opposite. I have photographed their windows for the Crown Letter, and written about them. First, the student painter who I see from my study, and then the woman in the room on the other side of the main door, who often sat in her bed all day working, and kept rearranging the furniture. She always waved to us if she saw us in the window, and soon this was part of our daily routine — my daughter and I waving and smiling down to the woman in her room, at desk, bed or sofa below. This Easter we met her for the first time as she was coming out of the flat. We were heading out to visit friends in their garden and she accompanied us a way along the street. We learned that she had come to Glasgow from India last summer for a year’s MA, but has been confined to her room.
Soon after this, things started to get much worse in India… When I see her again she tells me that her family have moved out of the city in Jaipur to a village in the countryside, for safety. Her mother, grandmother and aunt all have Covid. The men of the family are now doing the shopping and the domestic duties. Her best friend’s mother, who she had grown up with, died from the virus. She stayed up all night crying and talking to her friend online. She worries continually, but she can’t be there. She says that sometimes when she sees me in the window with my daughter, brushing her hair, it reminds her of herself and her mother. Indeed I am the same age as her mother, although my daughter is so much younger.
At night I see her light on late and the curtains closed and I worry about the possibility of bad news from home. Sometimes the curtains stay shut all the next day and I worry more. But so far, when I pass her open window on the street and check in, her family have survived intact. Soon, once the restrictions here are eased, my daughter and I will cross the road for dinner.