Kajal Nisha Patel used to work with a funeral firm. Her bosses asked her to dig in a little at Hindu cremation rites, which were supposed to be environmentally friendly. That was the start of her interest in Indian traditions. So she resigned and set out on a visit to Gujarat. It was a journey that was to change her life. “I realised my heritage,” Kajal, 34, tells Outlook. It was her first visit to India as an adult and she realised how different things were from what her parents had told her in Leicester about the Indian way. “I realised how culturally unaware I was and started taking photographs of every moment. But those photographs are quite cliched.”
It wasn’t long before Kajal took up photography seriously. She worked with rag-pickers in Gujarat and started documenting their lives. But it “was naive work. I am now embarrassed that I portrayed India like that.” Back home in the UK, she first began with street photography, capturing all aspects of Indian immigrant lives, starting with the elderly. “People born of my age in the UK have a derogatory view of India. They are always looking for a licence, an approval from the British. They don’t know what they are missing. I tell them go and see India and get a taste of it. And India is not Mumbai alone,” she says.
Kajal is right now working on two projects to change that view. Light Seekers is a project where she is working with schoolchildren, connecting them between India and the UK, with photo stories on Indian art and literature before leading them on to the history of India. “They are very receptive,” she enthuses. Another project close to her heart is a photographic documentary on second- and third-generation Indians who have devoted their lives to various aspects of Indian culture—music, art or religion. “I am lucky I found my passion. India is a whole lifetime of learning,” she says.
Photographs by Kajal Nisha Patel; Text: Nabanita Sircar
When the British came to India, first to trade, then to rule, they could not have foreseen that it would be the start of such an enduring romance.
Meanwhile - ONE UK POUND IS NOW 100 INDIAN RUPEES..
It is still UK (Pound) on the TOP..
Somethings have never changed - despite 66 years of freedom !!!
Kajal might want to visit Brampton , ON.; just a 15 minutes from Toronto Pearson Airport. She'll find another facet of Indian immigrant life. In many ways similar to London and Leicester . Just more colourful , modern and varied.
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