Photo Mail wishes you a happy Independence Day.
But hidden behind the happiness of commemorating the liberation from the colonial government is the violence and bloodshed that marked the Partition. In more ways than one, the Partition continues to be influential in our idea of identity, with Pakistan becoming the evil other for India, and vice versa. Such polarizing narratives often disregard nuances of culture, and present homogenous ideas of both nations.
In between the 2900+ km road from Kerala to Ladakh, one comes across numerous cultural distinctions. These distinctions are often standing symbols to the homogenous image of India that has been built, but at other times, the cultural practices descend into harmful superstitions and rigid social norms. Our bicyclists have been witnesses to the “real India,” which is in the villages and found that the two overwhelming realities of diversity and poverty coexist with the iconic grandness of classical architecture and art.
The route that they have taken goes through the spine of the country, and this renders them unable to meet the true outcasts in terms of national identity – those communities which are indigenous to the eastern states. The importance of reconsidering the national identity so as to include this diversity cannot be overemphasized.
In the photographs published here, a sample of the surface differences between cultures are visible. Photo Mail hopes that our travelers will continue to explore cultures, even after this journey has been completed. In this issue, images by Jinu Thomas. are being showcased. Jinu has gone ahead of the group and reached Manali, while the other three had to return to Gurgaon owing to an unfortunate incident. They will be continuing the journey soon and will look to catch up with Jinu.