Feeding the Hungry at Yousufain Dargah

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Looking for a quick cup of chai after a walk around the Yousufain Dargah in Hyderabad’s Nampally locality, I spotted a brightly painted cafe occupying a part of an old building adjacent to the dargah. As I walked in, wondering if they also served Irani chai at what looked more like a small restaurant, I almost missed the group of men sitting on their haunches by the door. The sight was intriguing, for many of the men seemed to be dressed reasonably well to be beggars and their backs against the road confirmed they were not daily labourers either. (more…)

A BMW Mobile Showroom in Rajkot

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BMW cars being sold from a tent? Capital, Germany’s oldest business publication, had commissioned me in September to shoot photographs for a story on German companies adapting innovative marketing strategies in India. When the brief came in, I found among other things, a BMW showroom in a tent in Rajkot, Gujarat. I went there imagining a typical red and blue patterned desi shamiana with people standing in a queue to buy cars.

What I found was quite the opposite. The mobile showroom was a swanky tent on the lawns of a hotel, complete with wooden flooring, air-conditioning and uniformed waiters offering water to potential customers. Rajkot, I was told, is an affluent town with a taste for expensive cars but the bosses at BMW thought it wasn’t a bright idea to open a showroom in Rajkot when there is one 220km away in Ahmedabad. The mobile showroom comes to Rajkot at fixed intervals, usually for a period of fifteen days and once a booking is made, cars are brought in from Ahmedabad for delivery.

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Corridor of Blood and Tears | Fountain Ink

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The Internally Displaced Adivasis of Chhattisgarh

Last month, Govind Krishnan, the reporter-at-large for Fountain Ink in Hyderabad called me to ask if I was available for an assignment  ‘somewhere’ in Khammam district. My immediate reaction was to ask if it was the IDP (Internally Displaced People) story. He said yes, and for the first time in the recent months I was really excited about working on a story.

I have been reading about the Muria tribals of Chhattisgarh who, caught in the crossfire between the Salwa Judum and the Maoists, migrate to the forests of Andhra Pradesh only to face harassment from the police and forest officials here for quite some time now. Most of these reports, which have appeared in the Telugu press, never exceeded 100-200 words and did not quite tell about the gravity of the situation. And when I happened to read Javed Iqbal’s reportage, was shocked to see that an issue of this scale finds so little space in the mainstream media.  I wanted to work on the story, but never got going for some reason or the other.

Govind and I spent about 10 days in Bhadrachalam, making multiple trips to the Muria (or Gottikoya, as they are known in Andhra) settlements deep inside the forests bordering Chhattisgarh. Read the reportage by Govind with some of my photographs here.