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Behind the image

Behind the Image: May 2023

Soon the snow will come, but recent rain has meant the streams of the Mt Buffalo plateau are running through a lush landscape.

Behind the Image October 2022: Brahmaputra River, Bangladesh/India

Fisher returns, Brahmaputra River, Bangladesh/India

This image (above) is taken on the Brahmaputra River, on the Bangladesh/India border. These two fishers are going back to home on a Char (pronounced ‘chore’), a river island that gets formed by the power of the Brahmaputra depositing sediment and building islands. The river builds, but the river also takes away, and in floods chars are often eroded and/or destroyed. These fishers, and those living on chars have very precarious lives and livelihoods.

I was on a boat going to a char to visit one of the NGOs who work in the health field – who bring a hospital boat to chars to provide health care to those who live there. When I was there, an ophthalmologist was conducting surgery on cataracts to restore sight.

Every now and then when you’re in the field, you are privileged to see what happens as one of the ‘thousand little stories of resilience’ that occur with little fanfare or recognition. It was quite extraordinary to see the impact of the NGO and to hear stories from the chars and from the boat.

This image is part of one of those stories.

Behind the image, September 2022: Rishi Ganga gorge, Indian Himalaya

Rishi Ganga gorge

The Rishi Ganga gorge is etched into the history of Nanda Devi and its sanctuary in the Indian Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Nanda Devi (7816m) and its sanctuary, massive mountains making access to Nanda Devi complex, is now a National Park and World Heritage area. The Rishi Ganga gorge provides a sense of Nanda Devi’s protective fortress. Nanda Devi is at the top left corner of the image.

I was fortunate to be in the area with a group from Lata village, at the gateway to the area. The village’s connection to the area and to Nanda Devi goes back centuries.

On a personal level, this particular trek for some reason reminded me of reading Howard Newby’s book ‘A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush’, a book that was so influential in developing my interest in mountains and their people, and a professional life at the intersection of communities and landscapes.