A very Indian intimacy


Appropriately on Valentine’s Day, the New York Times carries a piece today about the changing landscape of romance and especially kissing in Indian society. During my project about documenting Delhi’s green spaces, I photographed many couples seeking intimacy in public places unable to do so at home. Here are a couple of images from the series Public Spaces, Private Lives. A fuller set ran on the Camera Obscura blog in 2009 with a little interview about the work.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


India - New Delhi -
India – New Delhi – A couple hold hands in the park at India Gate. Public displays of affection are rare in a conservative city like Delhi. The parks and open spaces however are often full of romantic couples away from the prying eyes of traditional families



India - New Delhi -
India – New Delhi – A couple in the grounds of the Purana Qila share an intimate moment


Delhi’s Red… errr… White Fort…

Well, according to the Daily Telegraph, conservation architects in Delhi have discovered that originally, a good deal of the Red Fort was originally… white. Quoting KK Mohammad, head of the Architectural Survey of India said the ‘Red Fort’ is a “misconception” because although its exterior ramparts are red sandstone “more of the Red Fort is white than people realise.” Apparently, the giant red stone sundial that is the Jantar Mantar was also originally all white too… ooops.


India - Delhi - Judduchkra Iqbal, a magician from the Kathiputli Colony in the Shadipur Depot slum dresses for a show behind the Red Fort
India - New Delhi - A garden seen through the arches of the Janar Mantar

The leaf, the rain and the poet

Yesterday, I managed to put my back out . I just bent over to pick up a file of papers and it gave way. Some of you will remember a more serious occasion in Delhi two years ago and me laying on the floor for weeks on end, moaning… but that’s another story. Anyway, as I lay there in a completely dignified manner with an ice-pack glued to my lower spine, I was distracted by the rain pelting down on my windows; it is almost summer in London after all. Then something odd happened. A leaf landed against the pane. A single, solitary leaf, not extraordinary, a leaf from a neighbour’s tree. It just sat there. Stuck. It’s still there despite the sunshine and the best efforts of the evening winds to dislodge it. It got me thinking. Firstly, how dirty the windows actually are and then, looking at it more closely, I thought I’d photograph the little chap. Over the last few years, I seem to have been looking more and more at plants and less and less at people. For the last couple of years, I’ve been making work in Delhi about space and gardens as a way to view the city and, strangely enough, I think my favourite frame that I made last year was of a tree and its fallen blossom in Hue on assignment in Vietnam. I don’t think my leaf is in that league but it did bring to mind the poetry of Ryokan whose work I always have with me when I travel and when I am down:

The plants and flowers
I raised about my hut
I now surrender
To the will
Of the wind

My particular favourite when it’s raining in London and when I have hurt my back:

You must rise above
The gloomy clouds
Covering the mountaintop
Otherwise, how will you
Ever see the brightness?

Here are the photographs that I mentioned. I hope that you like them. One day, I will go back to Japan and make some work on Ryokan

A leaf on a window pane blown there in a storm
UK - London - A leaf on a window pane blown there in a storm
Vietnam - Hue - Fallen blossoms under a tree
Vietnam - Hue - Fallen blossoms under a tree