I just dug out some of the photos from the Woodcraft Folk trip to India in 1989/90 (was it really over 15 years ago?!?) where Gill and I met for the first time.
My favourite photo of the time was this one of a really cute orphan girl. I remember entering it in a photography competition afterwards, convinced that it would win. Makes me blush to think I would ever have thought it potential winning material (the judges returned it, saying that the balloon was too white), I think I got confused between the cuteness of the girl and the quality of the photo.
Then there was this photo from a village which I think was near Buldana. Looking at this still brings a tear to my eye (if you look at the photo, you will see that my mouth is smiling but the rest of me is fighting off tears). I have never been to quite such a depressing place. All of the people living there had previously been nomads, but the government had a policy of making them settle in one place. This destroyed the soul of these, to use a cliché, once-proud people: all of the men went off elsewhere to find jobs or join the army, and so the village was only inhabited by children (who made up 2/3rds of the population), women, the sick and the elderly. There was a feeling of hopelessness, of death, of having given up on life. Even though in many ways it was a nicer place than the shanty towns we visited in Bombay (which the Indian government is now bulldozing, no doubt creating another generation of people with no hope), it was far more dismal to visit: at least in the shanty towns everyone seemed positive and full of hope.