Life | Memoirs Of A Nation

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Memoirs Of A Nation
Text by Nasrin Modak
Published: Volume 20, Issue 8, August, 2012

As Indiaís past and present get documented in an online archive, narrative photographer, photo archivist and book designer Anusha Yadav recounts the nationís untold saga

There is a sepia-toned photograph clicked in 1920 of a timid Indian woman from Tirunelvi, wearing a traditional nine-yard sari, sporting black Mary Jane shoes and white socks. There is another rare image from 1923 of Chameli Devi Jain and her husband Phoolchand, holding hands, shortly after their marriage. One from the flower-power era is of an all women rock band. Still uncommon. From this century, there is the latest Bandra-Worli Sea Link and many other sights that form our urbanscape.

On the indian memory project site, these photographs act as living documents, a fresh insight into the lives of people who have lived in India at different times. Call them family genealogies, if nothing they act as record files of the dress, hairstyle, make-up and jewellery of that period. Some of these say a lot about characteristics typical to certain culturesÖlike the ones where women were made to stand in a picture while the men sat on lavish chairs or couples sitting at an armís length from each other.

There are letters too, some of historical significance others of romance and longing. In the era of emails and Skype, these lines written with fountain pens on now yellowed paper are nostalgic remnants.

A student of communication design from National Institute of Design, Anusha Yadav had a successful career in graphic design and advertising before she began this project.

Personal contributions of photographs and letters are welcome on her website, www.indianmemoryproject.com.

Q & A with ANUSHA YADAV

Tell us about the Eureka moment for you to start this project.
Photographs for me are a way to time travel and imagine how it must have been then. Taking cue from Facebookís photo posting feature and its outreach, I thought it might be a good idea to start collecting original pictures to research a book on Indian weddings. In the process, people began posting all kinds of old photos, with interesting anecdotes. Thatís when the bulb went off. In 2010, I expanded the group and changed the name from Heritage Photos of India to Indian Memory Project.

A feedback that has touched you immensely...
Pats on the back from world famous photographers, curators and academicians have been abound but the ones that really motivate me come from ordinary people when they say that their eyes welled up reading a story, or that they have decided to change their attitude to life reading stories on the project and that their opinions have changed on assumed notions.

In what way would you expand the project?
Books, apps, exhibitions, corporate commissions are some of the things I have already begun working on. There will be more to come. But Iíll wait and watch. The Project has a life of its own. Its serendipity I am convinced of. It is sure to take us somewhere we never even imagined.

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