How many times have you been at a party where you find yourself standing by the hummus trying to conceal the fact that you’ve eaten 2/3rds of it, when you overhear this cringe-worthy phrase:
“Well, you know, in India, the people are just so much more open than we are. It’s just different over there.”
Ahh…the act of exoticizing the Other. It seems these days you can’t throw a stone without hitting someone expounding on the quirky differences between the East and the West. Whether it be marveling at how a holy man can be so peaceful in our ka-raaaaaazy city, or how fantastic it is to see yoga being done in…wait for it…Times Square!!!, even with our often “Thanks, but no thanks” attitude toward the thousands of years of yogic traditions laid out before us by people who risked it all to do so, there’s no shortage of mouths pooh-poohing the Other by romanticizing Her.
And, let’s face it, there’d be even more water-cooler-convos to be had if there actually was a thing called “East” and “West.” Alas we are stuck with the same ol’ ten cent tropes.
The images above are by photographer, Nisha Sondhe, whose recent project “One Life Photos 2011” is in her words “a photographic study of how similar daily life is in both new york city and bombay.” A valiant effort indeed. While I would have loved to see more of her work on this subject, there is quite a bit to look at and does succeed at begging the question: What is it we’re really talking about when we talk about East and West?
In the end I have just one word for you: Delhi.
In the other end, I have two more words for you: balloon animals.
You can see more of Nisha’s work and vote for her to win something special here.