Needless to say, I drew inspiration from Brandon Stanton, who took the world of social media by storm, back in 2010 when he started ‘Humans of New York‘. Although I got introduced to HONY much later, sometime around 2014, when I developed an interest in photography and started following people on Instagram. There’s something about Brandon’s work, that it would never fail to touch anyone who comes across his photographs and narrations.
I slowly started experimenting with my lenses, and whenever I am on the roads, I try to take photographs of people. All it takes is an exchange of a smile, and people are usually happy to get clicked. Somehow, this entire practice also helped me in believing the fact that the world isn’t as bad as we perceive it to be!
Last year, when I was planning my journey across Lahaul and Spiti Valley, I thought of how I can create a story arranging the photographs of all those people I’ll meet in the valley. (Trust me on this, clicking the photographs are way easier than editing them and compiling them together so that it becomes apt to narrate a tale and be shown to the world! – My respect for Brandon has grown ever since I’m working on “Humans of Spiti”.)
Spiti, a quaint valley tucked between India and Tibet, is nothing short of magic. And every time I would point to click someone, I would get a warm ‘Julley’ (Hello in Spitian language) in return.
I came across little ones like Singye, who had more knowledge of the spiritual world at the age of 11 than what I have at the age of 27!
I met shopkeepers who offered me tea even when I didn’t buy anything. And grandmas who showered me with their blessings. I met cranky kids; kids trying to finish off their homework while soaking in the sun; kids riding on a donkey, and kids trying to hit my camera with a stick!
I met people like Sonam Bhaiya, who greeted 6 unknown people – girls and boys in their 20s – and treated us like family. He cooked food for us, served us homemade alcohol and made beds for us so that we can have a comfortable sleep when the weather outside dropped to 2 degrees Celsius. I wonder what if Sonam Bhaiya gets his family to Gurgaon today – will I be able to treat him exactly how he treated us? Perhaps, not.
Spiti, a serene valley away from the chaos and complexity of the urban web, is sheltering people who are as beautiful as the place is. My words will never be enough to convince you, I know that! And deep inside, I hope that someday you can make it there too, just to relate to what I’ve been trying to say.
As of now, you can meet some of the ‘Humans of Spiti’, here!