Traditional healing practices

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This photo is of my friend with whom I rode camels around the Thar desert for five days, slept under the stars, and got caught in storms and sandstorms. The latter were so vicious I had to be rushed to a local village woman by a young boy on his motorbike to remove the pieces of grit in my eye with tweezers, that had made me feel as if I was slowly losing my sight throughout the night.

I couldn’t open my eyes – they were too painful and sensitive to the beating sun – as I sat cross-legged outside her house. But in my mind I was in the middle of a beautiful scene of smiling children running in circles around us as she peeled my eyelids further and further upwards to exact more stubborn rubble from within.

I would love to conclude that this local and ancient method of restoring vision sufficed. That, however, was not the case. And the pain returned.

We reluctantly drove on to a bustling local hospital. I was immediately ushered into a very open room, flipped over and stabbed twice in the bum – once on each side – with sharp injections of painkiller.

I was told that someone had been throwing rocks in my eyes and was advised to avoid that. I was finally sent off with an extensive shopping list for eye-drops, tablets and medicines.

The pain waned, sight did eventually return, and I retreated once again to the desert.

© Gabriella Zoe Harris. All rights reserved.

It’s a man’s world…?

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In a small village in the Thar desert of Rajasthan, India.

A single young girl amidst a flurry of boys running to have their photo taken too.

I was, and still am, caught up by her innocent expression here of pure joy at being the first to reach me and to stand alone framed by the frenzy of the other children.

I captured her photo in the moment before a subtle taint of shyness and confusion spread across her face.

© Gabriella Zoe Harris 2016. All rights reserved.

Leviathan

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Ship at Kolkata harbour, West Bengal, India, shot before embarking on a 4-day sea voyage to the Andaman Islands, just less than 300k south of Myanmar.

The rust and vivid colouring of this image and the briny robustness of the ship remind me very much of the 2012 Leviathan, an experimental documentary shot in the North Atlantic focused on the brutal toil the workers undergo in the North American commercial fishing industry, filmed in 20-hour shifts using GoPro cameras.

© Gabriella Zoe Harris. All rights reserved.

 

A Camouflage Series: India

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When the Indian man in military uniform (our only company for seven hours as the mountain passes across the north Indian Himalayas are de-bouldered) blends in with the snow-belched mountains behind and all around, and all the patterns then start to resemble that of a cow’s coat, you know you need a change of scenery.

© Gabriella Zoe Harris. All rights reserved.

One and Many Cities

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Shot from the inside of a speeding taxi as we fled Mumbai’s famous and charming Leopold Cafe on Coloba Causeway, where there are still bullet holes from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, to a salubrious air-conditioned shopping mall, in a sports bar on the top floor of which we would while away the midday drinking cocktails in supposed normal Wednesday fashion for Mumbai businessmen, or at least for the kind man who led us there. Having started chatting in the cafe, we let him show us his Mumbai, violently different to everything we had previously experienced in this country; stockbroking, malls, taxis, afternoon drunkenness. It seems the joint in which we ended up attracted a similar and regular crowd; we were lucky enough to get on the wrong side of an ex-girlfriend, a recent and raw breakup, the involvement in which two young European girls was not appreciated.

This photograph I find particularly poignant. Two bright, clashing figures, entwined one with the other, man’s head on woman’s shoulder, looking out at the cityscape of Mumbai’s high-rises over the dirty water. The scene is grey, but the movement of the taxi and growing distance between us and them palpable. Their stasis is assertive, however, and the city beyond even more so; now a distant and unchanging ghost hanging over the wider city.

© Gabriella Zoe Harris. All rights reserved.