Tens of millions of Americans are still struggling, despite the slow economic recovery. I recently collaborated with NPR’s Pam Fessler and producer Sam Sanders on a four-part series looking at poverty in the US and how some organizations are helping families stay afloat. To hear the audio stories, see the images and get the facts visit the series page: Poverty In America: The Struggle To Get Ahead
India’s The Sunday Guardian recently ran a collection of my images from the Parsi community in their newspaper. Here is the text that I wrote which accompanied the photo essay:
Even to an American Parsi, witnessing the lifestyle of a faithful Zoroastrian in India is a novel experience. Though I grew up reciting the same prayers and learning the core tenets of the religion, I never understood what it felt like to be a faithful Zoroastrian. After living in Mumbai for two years and travelling throughout India, I realised that ‘Parsi Zoroastrian’ is not just a group of people who originally came from Persia and found refuge in India. Rather, it describes a way of life that celebrates the environment, the individual and a higher being. The celebration comes in the form of worship, ritual and devotion. While our numbers are far from mighty, the community’s strength lies in the true believers who do not seek praise but humbly serve their family, community and nation.
To cope with the hard times, millions of families have pulled together — stacking two, three, even four generations on top of one another. NPR’s Morning Edition has begun an eight-part series titled “Family Matters” which explores the lives of three multigenerational households struggling with issues of money, duty and love. I’ve had the pleasure of visually documenting these families during all aspects of their days — they have graciously opened their doors and lives to us and discuss how they navigate difficult financial decisions.
>Do you live in a multigenerational household? Share your candid photos and stories with NPR on Tumblr or #nprfamilymatters on Twitter and Instagram.<
One of my last assignments in India was for Vogue India: a portrait of artist, critic and curator, Sharmistha Ray. My last few weeks in Mumbai were a blur, from packing to planning to saying goodbye – not only to my good friends but to my beloved Bombay. And what does the city do in your last few days, it forces you to fall in love all over again. It reminds you of the incredible people you have met and will continue to meet. It shows you all aspects of humanity, packed in fleeting moments of exhilaration and heartbreak. I sit in my new home, remembering what I felt when I made this image and wondered where I would be when it was published. One regret is that I knew I wouldn’t be able to share in Sharmistha’s first solo show. But on the flip side, I’ve got one more incredibly talented friend thanks to Bombay.
Mumbaiboss.com, the popular online news and culture magazine, sent me to check out Mumbai’s first-ever Comic Con. The goal was to meet the superheroes amongst the mere mortals. Even though graphic novels and comic books are not my thing, I left Comic Con energized and simple happy. What makes my job fun is meeting people who love what they do, who love who they are and who don’t care what anyone else thinks. Someone asked me before I left to cover Comic Con, “How are you going to take their pictures and pretend you aren’t making fun of them?” The simple answer, “That’s easy because I’m not making fun of them!” Even a tough critic like me finds it impossible to balk at sincerity. To see a SLIDE SHOW OF IMAGES and READ SUPERHERO INTERVIEWS go to MUMBAIBOSS.COM.
I remember as a child going to the A.T.M machine with my father. He would pick me up and whisper in my ear what numbers to push near the screen. Within seconds freshly pressed dollar bills would roll out. As I got older, I remember dad not wanting to share those ’secret numbers’ any longer, and instead we opened my own saving account. I was around 10 years old.
On a recent assignment for The New York Times, I joined reporter Vikas Bajaj to see how State Bank of India’s human A.T.M.s are brining banking to rural communities. We met and spoke to many people that day, a father depositing $2 into his account, day laborers saving cash for relatives living on the other side of the country and this woman below, Rajashri Nakati. She came to a rural banking office set up by State Bank of India to open her first saving account, she is 35 and a mother of five. Rajashri seemed slightly nervous as the business correspondent took her worn farm-labored hands and digitized six of her fingerprints. I could only speculate how significant this day was for her by the immaculate sari she wore and the gold jewelry displayed on ears. She said she was opening the account to start saving money, “If I leave it at home, it will get spent.” Her first deposit, after her account is approved, will be 100 rupees, around $2. To read Vikas’ story and see my slideshow click here: TRAVELING TELLERS, TAKE BANKING TO RURAL INDIA and BRINGING CASH TO THE COUNTRYSIDE.
Le Mill, Mumbai’s hot new concept store, is featured in the current issue of Monocle Magazine Issue 47, Oct 2011. Cecilia Morelli Parikh, the store’s co-founder and clothing buyer fields questions in Monocle’s style directory section about her favorite selections for the new season. The sprawling 15,000 square feet store is loaded with furniture, fashion, jewelry and art products made in India. Previously a rice mill, the store is located in Mumbai’s Wadi Bunder neighborhood and also has a chic café, a flower shop, bookstore and an exhibition space.
Every year Mumbai alters her daily routine to celebrate Ganesha, or the Hindu deity widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. She closes her roads, diverts traffic patterns, gives workers the day off and swells her waterways in preparation to swallow thousands of painted idols. After ten days of chaos, song, dance and shear mayhem, she goes back to her daily routine, slightly fatigued but hopeful that the new year will be prosperous.
It’s always a pleasure collaborating with the uber-talented Vikas Bajaj, reporter with The New York Times.