Close Encounters with India’s Future

Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation. – C. Everett Koop

Children of India photo

No matter where I am traveling, my camera gravitates toward children. Being a mother and grandmother I am drawn to their innocence and antics. I would like to think all children don’t mind this intrusion from a complete stranger, one who holds a scary camera and speaks a strange language…and even has white hair. My close encounters with India’s kids show typical reactions. The babies are shy and some down right scared. Older ones just do the normal thing…smile and look in the camera and can’t wait to see the play back. Often while I photographed kids, someone in the family would take out their phone and photograph me. I too, became a curiosity.

English proverb   “The soul is healed by being with children.”

Just look at these babies with their dark, exotic eyes accentuated with kohl. In India, Kajal or Kohl is a form of eye makeup which has been used since ancient times. Many women today, apply a small dot on the forehead of their toddlers as well as under or around the eye. These parents are delighted at showing off their little ones. In the city’s forts, palaces and monuments, it was usually the father who proudly held the wee ones.

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“Outings are so much more fun when we can savor them through the children’s eyes.” ― Lawana Blackwell

While at the Thirrunakkata Utsavam Temple Festival in Kottayam, this toddler just took it all in. No smiles. He was as serious as his father. Perhaps the musician who is dwarfing him is making an impression or just has his curiosity.

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“What feeling is so nice as a child’s hand in yours? So small, so soft and warm, like a kitten huddling in the shelter of your clasp.”― Marjorie Holmes

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“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” — Nobel Prize-winning, South African leader, Nelson Mandela

School boys and  girls in Puskar look at the camera, while school kids along the backwaters in Kerala go about their business, ignoring our boat as it glides by.

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“There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace.”   Kofi A. Annan, UN Secretary-General

While in Delhi, we signed up for a city walk with the Salaam Balaak Trust, created in 1988 by local community leaders. It is a foundation that gives shelter, education and hope to street kids. Our guide, once a street child himself is now in night school and is on the road to independence. While walking the inner city of Paharganj and the area around New Delhi railway station, he shared his story with us. We then visited a classroom of mischievous boys who are used to classroom interruptions. The city walk is a unique way of providing an insight into the lives of these children and an opportunity for them to improve their communication and speaking skills. This was a worthy experience and money donated to an important cause.

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“Only where children gather is there any real chance of fun.”  – Migon McLaughlin

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“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”  – Mohandas Gandhi, political and spiritual leader in India

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About travelerlynne

Traveler. Writer. Retired Educator.Traveling on and off the beaten path with my photographer husband. Volunteering locally as well as in Haiti and Tanzania, an enriching and humbling experience. A sun lover! Shelling, boating, fishing and watching sunsets. Growing mango, banana, key lime,and pineapple.Making smoothies and chutneys. Enjoying family and friends! Savoring each new day!
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27 Responses to Close Encounters with India’s Future

  1. restlessjo says:

    Their world is so different from ours, Lynne. Such captivating photos! The little girl with her mouth wide open 🙂 Serious… smiling… holding hands. Yes, that’s a special feeling. I’m never drawn to photograph them but the place lights up when a child enters the room.

  2. It is a different world from ours but yet, most young people I talked to want the same things we all want…education and a good job. And then there are those who have fewer opportunities for education and health care. They are in survival mode. I am concerned about the marginalized and neglected all over the world. I hope India’s newly elected leader can address these issues. But on a brighter note…glad you liked the smiling faces. 🙂

  3. Beautiful beautiful beautiful pictures of faces filled with innocence and hope for the future. Back in India, a camera still brings on a lot of excitement with everyone always willing to pose for pictures:) What a lovely trip you’ve had, Lynne, travel always makes us happy for what we have…Enjoyed reading about your trip.

  4. From first to last, captivating portraits. Brava you, Lynne – they’re alive with who the kids are. 🙂

  5. vbholmes says:

    Beautiful children, proud parents, interesting backdrops, tantalizing text–great post, Lynne. You’ve had many enviable opportunities to interact with the people, as well as with their culture and history. Enjoy the rest of your wonderful trip–and keep posting so we can come along with you.

    • Thanks, VB. Actually, Ron and I have been back for a month. We are just now feeling better after getting quite sick after returning. But, my mind is full of stories, even if the body doesn’t want to tackle the yard work awaiting us. India is a unique country, filled with diversity.

  6. Gigi Galore says:

    “Love!” This is such a wonderful, wonderful post Lynne! Amazing, everything! Your photos are gorgeous and what your eye is drawn too says so much! I would love to hear the story of the guide, one day. Maybe you only have brief details but it has me curious! xoxox

  7. Our guide lived on a farm many miles from Delhi. He was expected to always work on the farm and not get an education. Someone had given him a book and he was obsessed with wanting to learn. His older brother left the farm, lived on the streets and then discovered Salaam Balak Trust, first, which paved the way for our guide to leave the farm and finally end up at the foundation. He didn’t spend much time on the streets because of his brother. Happy ending. Thanks for you interest, Gigi. I loved the interaction with young people. They want to practice their English and they are curious about tourists/visitors who are interested in them.

  8. Lynne, what an amazing gallery of children from India. These are such beautiful photos that capture what it’s like for these children living in India. I find it so difficult to take pictures of people in foreign lands, but these kids are obviously very comfortable with you behind the camera. You must have a gift to put people at ease. Wonderful. And great words of wisdom sprinkled throughout. 🙂

  9. Hi Cathy. thanks for your kind comment. I love the cultural exchanges and starting with the kids paves a way to try to communicate with parents. It doesn’t always work out, but I come away with a warm feeling when it does. I think for the family too, because someone took an interest in them.:)

  10. Letizia says:

    What captivating photos, Lynne. I love when children look right into the lens, wide-eyed and unselfconscious; it makes for the most beautiful photo. The photo of the group of teens made me laugh (teens will be teens in any culture – there’s one young man on the right who has a fantastic swagger, haha!).

  11. These guys were joking around and having a good time, but when I suggested a picture they got all serious. I love the swagger, too, and you’re right, kids are kids in any culture. Am pleased you liked the photo essay, Letezia. I love interacting with people in different cultures. It puts a spotlight on them and they (all ages) seem to be pleased that I even took the time.

  12. A terrific set of photos, Lynne. Love how you captured the eyes.

  13. Madhu says:

    Such captivating images Lynne! If there is one thing that gives me hope, it is our demographics skewed towards the under 25s, and the fact that education is becoming a prime aspiration even for the very poor. I am so glad you got to participate in walks with the Salaam Balak Trust. I hope to do it on my next visit too.

    • Such a complicated issue, Madhu. Our driver through all of Rajasthan has put two children through college and one is still in college. Finding jobs seems to be their dilemma plus the stigma the young adults face of not being able to pay their father back, yet. Let’s hope the new government will be able to turn things around. It is indeed hopeful that so many, especially, the poor want an education. It is a younger generation coming up that will undoubtedly put pressure on many issues.

  14. wow. you put a LOT of work and love into this post! i am the lucky one to have found time to savor it!

    quite late here in manta, but better late than never!

    thanks for bringing this assortment of dear sweet souls to all of us!

  15. Thanks, Lisa. I love the interaction with kids and their parents. I know you’re glad to be back home.

  16. Wonderful pics and quotes! I wonder what kind of world it would be if we really put the kids’ well being first?

  17. So true, Alarna.With the demographics in many countries leaning toward the 30 and younger, there might be some hope. Perhaps they can turn things around.

  18. The red dots in the middle of the children’s foreheads. I wonder how that tradition started? I went to visit a friend who had a newborn and he had a red dot on his forehead. “Why?” I asked. The response surprised me. He said because his baby had hiccups and the red dot stopped them. Funny! How in the world do these traditions get started? Beautiful portraits of the children of India.

  19. Most of the children have black dots and a few are red. Mostly, it is the women who use red to indicate they are married. I love the hiccup explanation. 🙂 Photos of kids are fun to do.

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