The Masti Ki Paathashaala (MKP) or Fun School project being run by CSI (the NGO I'm shadowing here in Delhi). This school takes kids that have either fallen out or not been to school and provides them with remedial education to bring up their level to then reintegrate them into a government school. The the girl in the blue dress (final photo) was employed as a domestic hand and her parents had to be convinced to let her go back to school via the MKP program.
In poorer communities in India, it was not too uncommon to see children working perhaps in the market selling fruit, or perhaps as a domestic hand. In the transport nagar, there were two rag picker children, carrying magnets on a rope, collecting scrap metal (such as nails and screws) as they went along seeking items thrown out by others.
Mrs X welcomed us in and told us her story. She was 35 years old and on Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) for 7-8 years. Her son, Y was 14 years and was put on ART since he was 6-7. She has been living with HIV for about 13 years. Her first husband contracted HIV and she subsequently became HIV positive from him. He then died of AIDS and AIDS related complications, so she married her second husband whom she met through a HIV support group (he was HIV positive as well). The second marriage had problems, so her second husband left. She lives with her 14 year old son on a meagre salary in a slum and relies on free antiviral therapy from the government to stay alive.
Savita (CSI Community Mobiliser) and Devaki (GRC Director) are facilitating a rather interesting microfinancing project in the slum called a Self Help Group (SHG) or Stree Shakti Suvidha Kendra (in Hindi). This is a program whereby they help the women in the slum to have access to a line of credit.
Geeta's and her husband's weeding was conducted by her family in a village of Uttar Pradesh (where the husband's family lives). In search of better livelihood prospects the couple migrated to Delhi. Her husband however could not hold down a regular job and he also turned out to be a spendthrift, alcoholic, and a womaniser. Unable to pay the rent of their house for 4-5 months in a row, the husband ran away from the rented house and disappeared for a while.
This matter was reported to CSI's Gender Resource Center. Their paralegal team arranged for a mediation session with the resolution of the husband agreeing to live with the wife and paying maintenance for the household expenses. The husband came back, however it did not take too long before he started regularly “disappearing” again. (Text by Divesh Kaul)
An unexpected adventure. Photos from Ha Long Bay and Hanoi, Vietnam. The sub-cultures at play that were openly obvious, yet hidden from westerner eyes. I think of the organised syndicate of the night market playing cards and the offerings to the gods for good luck and good business on the street before and after work. Against this was the pragmatic approach of the people: earning a living, getting it done. The barber shop on the street, telephone lines crossing through the Hanoi sky, vendors pulling together their wares, parents investing in their future -- their children.
I visited the Centre Georges Pompidou (museum of modern art in Paris), in April 2013 to see their collection and a special exhibition on the works of Jesus Rafael Soto. Of the standard collection (the Musee national d'art moderne), it's a collection of art from 1905 to 1960, organised chronologically so the visitor can see the evolution of modern art first hand. With clear explanations of each art movement and their principle actors, this was an engrossing journey from start to finish.
The special exhibition on Jesus Rafael Soto is almost scientific-like in its guise. His work depends heavily on visual tricks and shadows : the visual impact of it depends on the viewer's location. So he has made his work 4 dimensional, taking into account time, but the time of the viewer, not the art itself.
I was working in La Defense during the winter of 2013 near the Grande Arche and the Quatre Temps. At first, I would walk up those steps and watch people stream in out of the RER station and across the parvis to work. So many lives, so many people, just going to work. What were their lives like? What did they do? Were they happy? There was no way I could tell. As the snow melted away, the stairs would look like they were weeping as the ice slowly turned into water and wandered down following the path of gravity.
In almost perfect spring weather, we arrived at St. Jean-De-Luz, a small town near the border of Spain. If was full of holidaying French nationals, in varying degrees of sunburned redness. People walked around the long beach up onto the hill at the eastern end of town where there was a park and a small bar feverishly serving out beers to customers. On the way back, a black dog was off his leash, leading his master along the pier, onto the beach. His master reluctantly followed in his suit jacket, jeans, and shoes - he had no ball to play, but his dog was besides himself with joy. On the beach over the sunset a lone bather stayed to watch shadows envelope the sea and sand.
The Picos de Europa are a set of limestone mountains just off the coast of northern Spain. Just off peak season, the day we went there, they were shrouded in fog limiting visibility to about 20 metres. For about 20 minutes, the fog lifted and I could take photos across the Lagos de Enol (about 1100m), and just as quickly, the fog reappeared shrouding the landscape. In the distance, we could hear cow bells, as cows moved around grazing in the mountains. The fog's impact was so dynamic: it was like you were in the clouds and that the landscape around me was being transformed as I looked at it.
Castro Urdiales is a small coastal town in the north of Spain. The further out I moved from the large commercial centers of Spain, the more evidence of the crisis was evident. In Castro Urdiales, you could walk up to the cathedral and castle, which were slowly decaying against the harsh weather on the coast, even with the repairs that were in being made. The cathedral and church looked out over amazing cliffs where there were more ruins of condemned housing, too dangerously close to erosion. Old decaying steps runover by weeds leading to a cliff into the sea. I wondered, what was there before?
Having a fishing heritage (it was a whaling town), boats were moored in the harbour, and a large pier protected them and the town, like an large outstretched concrete arm. It was clear that this was a town where man was tied to nature: needing it to live, fighting it to survive. The town was full of shops which sold brands I couldn't recognize -- local brands or cheap imports. A stray starving cat was vigilant under the bumper of a car, hind legs sprung, ready to jump.
When you hear the word Bordeaux, you think French wine. But what about the city? Of all the places I have been to in France, this reminded me most of home. Blue skies, beautiful weather, relaxed people. The one vineyard in this photo set is Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (in Pauillac), which I didn't visit -- I just walked around their terroir and took photos. Back in Bordeaux, on the terraces, people talked, lovers swooned. Walking home after dinner, the sun had long faded, cafes were shut, and their chairs were neatly stacked in the shadows of the streetlamps, ready for the next day of sun and customers.
Just off the coast near Bermeo, Spain, you can find San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. This is a small church on a rocky island that you have to walk to across a stone bridge into the Bay of Biscay. After a descent of 150m and ascent of 150m again, there's a small rope and bell that you are supposed to ring three times and make a wish (I didn't do this).
The views are spectacular. On the bay, you can see the cliffs which have the various stages of rock formations exposed right from the prehistoric era of Spain. In fact there was a student part of geologists on a field trip at the church studying these cliffs as we were there.
The Spanish have a very work-late-start-late routine, which meant that breakfast would normally happen around 10am to 11am. I was interested to find signs of the economic crisis and perhaps any reflections of what I had seen in France. These two photos are a telling story.
The first: the two ladies. They were watching a TV news report about a couple in Valencia who have abandoned their children because they had no more money. Their reaction is all over their face. Outside, a lady ordered a beer. It was 11am.
The second: the almost retiree. Having past a generation by, the story is different. This gentleman looked a little more relaxed as he browsed through his paper. He looked like he was just popping out for a coffee during work, but took his time. He there before we started and still there when we left.