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India

I took this photo while walking down an alleyway in Old Jodhpur, India, commonly referred to as the Blue City of Rajasthan. While exploring the labyrinth of streets in the ancient city, I found something spectacular around each and every corner. It was my last day in the city and I was eager to continue documenting the people and it’s culture. Luckily, the people around me were even more eager to have their photos taken.  This photo of children portrays the nature of the people and culture I experienced in India. The boy in the center, shirtless and street-wise like many other children in India, has wrestled his way to the front of the group. The girl, hiding her face behind the luminous ball, suggests the way women of India veil their faces with the end’s of their sari’s. The smile of the young boy dressed in yellow mirror’s the friendliness and warmth of the Indian culture, which I am so grateful to have experienced. Finally the young boy in blue in the back of the group places his hands on the shoulders of his comrade, illustrating the support and respect Indian people have for one another. 

I took this photo while walking down an alleyway in Old Jodhpur, India, commonly referred to as the Blue City of Rajasthan. While exploring the labyrinth of streets in the ancient city, I found something spectacular around each and every corner. It was my last day in the city and I was eager to continue documenting the people and it’s culture. Luckily, the people around me were even more eager to have their photos taken. 

This photo of children portrays the nature of the people and culture I experienced in India. The boy in the center, shirtless and street-wise like many other children in India, has wrestled his way to the front of the group. The girl, hiding her face behind the luminous ball, suggests the way women of India veil their faces with the end’s of their sari’s. The smile of the young boy dressed in yellow mirror’s the friendliness and warmth of the Indian culture, which I am so grateful to have experienced. Finally the young boy in blue in the back of the group places his hands on the shoulders of his comrade, illustrating the support and respect Indian people have for one another. 

On my journey from Jodhpur to Udaipur, we pulled off the side of the road to take a breather. Here we found a girl swining from a set of tree vines, she would use these tree vines and the wall behind her as a makeshift swing.

On my journey from Jodhpur to Udaipur, we pulled off the side of the road to take a breather. Here we found a girl swining from a set of tree vines, she would use these tree vines and the wall behind her as a makeshift swing.

I took this photo while exploring on my first day in India. I had just flown into New Delhi and was excited to start taking photos. I took a tuk tuk into town to get a perspective of the area and people around me. I stopped across the street from India Gate and decided to walk away from the tourists and towards a gathering of locals. In this photo, a child ran over to me yelling "selfie! selfie!", exposing his crying baby brother as if he knew it would make for a more intriguing photo. However, what I found the most intriguing were the young child's razor sharp eyes and teeth.

I took this photo while exploring on my first day in India. I had just flown into New Delhi and was excited to start taking photos. I took a tuk tuk into town to get a perspective of the area and people around me. I stopped across the street from India Gate and decided to walk away from the tourists and towards a gathering of locals. In this photo, a child ran over to me yelling "selfie! selfie!", exposing his crying baby brother as if he knew it would make for a more intriguing photo. However, what I found the most intriguing were the young child's razor sharp eyes and teeth.

Udaipur, Rajasthan 2017

Udaipur, Rajasthan 2017

Jaipur, Rajasthan 2017

Jaipur, Rajasthan 2017

With everything that's going on in the world, we could all use a Superman. - Jaipur, Rajasthan 2017

With everything that's going on in the world, we could all use a Superman. - Jaipur, Rajasthan 2017

A group of children gather to catch fish for sport. - Jodhpur, India

A group of children gather to catch fish for sport. - Jodhpur, India

Here I ran into a man who had been growing out the lengths of his ear hair for over roughly 20 years. In 2009, an Indian man by the name of Radhakant Baiijpai, broke the Guinness book of world records for having the longest ear hair - 10 inches. While I did not dare to ask about the length of this mans ear hair, he surley seemed like a close competitor. 

Here I ran into a man who had been growing out the lengths of his ear hair for over roughly 20 years. In 2009, an Indian man by the name of Radhakant Baiijpai, broke the Guinness book of world records for having the longest ear hair - 10 inches. While I did not dare to ask about the length of this mans ear hair, he surley seemed like a close competitor. 

Udaipur, Rajasthan 2017

Jodhpur, Rajasthan 2017

Jodhpur, Rajasthan 2017

Jodhpur, Rajasthan 2017

Jodhpur, Rajasthan 2017

A man sits alone in agony with his leg burned to the bone. He politely ask's by-passers for donations to help. 

A man sits alone in agony with his leg burned to the bone. He politely ask's by-passers for donations to help. 

A Bishnoi village local roles and lights a cigarette as the sun behind him sets.

A Bishnoi village local roles and lights a cigarette as the sun behind him sets.

A local street worker enjoying his cup of chai tea. A drink consumed for its healing properties and so popular you can likely find its makers known as "Chai Wallas" on every street corner from the big cities to the desert outposts. -Udaipur, Rajasthan 2017

A local street worker enjoying his cup of chai tea. A drink consumed for its healing properties and so popular you can likely find its makers known as "Chai Wallas" on every street corner from the big cities to the desert outposts. -Udaipur, Rajasthan 2017

A group of workers gather to have their group portrait taken. 

A group of workers gather to have their group portrait taken. 

Colors of Cuba

 

La Habana

La Habana is the kind of city that a visitor can try to understand by walking down one of two main streets and then venturing into the heart of the city through side streets. Although in its appearance and customs it is broken and old, in its energy it is vibrant and young. There are no signs on the walls of the city, leaving the eye free to follow the color and symmetry of the architecture. Many of the buildings are falling apart, leaning on each other like un-loyal comrades who could at any moment pull away their support. Zealous teals, lemon yellows, bright pinks and clean whites have been wrecked by the youth and neglected by the State. The streets are in ruins, leftovers of an old empire that will never be rebuilt. The people are of mixed ancestries and color, with elastic skin and defined Spanish and West African features. We met many locals and heard their stories. Some are disillusioned and weary, others are hopeful. Most have accepted their fate. Someone here said to me that Fidel once promised each of his citizens a cup of milk. How can there be milk, when there is not even water? The electricity shortages, along with the ration cards and famines continue...

La Habana is the kind of city that a visitor can try to understand by walking down one of two main streets and then venturing into the heart of the city through side streets. Although in its appearance and customs it is broken and old, in its energy it is vibrant and young. There are no signs on the walls of the city, leaving the eye free to follow the color and symmetry of the architecture. Many of the buildings are falling apart, leaning on each other like un-loyal comrades who could at any moment pull away their support. Zealous teals, lemon yellows, bright pinks and clean whites have been wrecked by the youth and neglected by the State. The streets are in ruins, leftovers of an old empire that will never be rebuilt. The people are of mixed ancestries and color, with elastic skin and defined Spanish and West African features. We met many locals and heard their stories. Some are disillusioned and weary, others are hopeful. Most have accepted their fate. Someone here said to me that Fidel once promised each of his citizens a cup of milk. How can there be milk, when there is not even water? The electricity shortages, along with the ration cards and famines continue...

 The Plaza de Armas

On the Malecón, when it is cold and windy, the waves overthrow the stone sea wall and sprinkle passers-by all the way on the far side of the Avenida de Maceo. Continuing down towards the mouth of Havana Harbor, past three parks and two castles, there lies a small alley which leads down to the Plaza de Armas. On Sundays, there is an antique market full of little treasures. Small books filled with Fidel's speeches, magazines depicting pre-communistic styles and ideas, cameras and watches perhaps left from old Soviet comrades. The vendors wear gloves and try to laugh about the strong gusts of wind. They have caramel brown skin and clear eyes, like maritime sailors, with deep wrinkles. Their Spanish flows in the wind and their eyes float around as they tell me their prices. When I speak Spanish with them, they ask me where I come from. They tell me of the apples they used to import from my country, large and round, bright yellow and so delicious. They say the tourists don't buy anything. I tell them their prices are too high. They smirk and explain that the market is no longer open all week. Then when is it open? Domingo, Martes y Jueves. Since when? Since Raul said so. But why? Why what? Why can't you work all week? They smirk harder. No one knows why, they say.

On the Malecón, when it is cold and windy, the waves overthrow the stone sea wall and sprinkle passers-by all the way on the far side of the Avenida de Maceo. Continuing down towards the mouth of Havana Harbor, past three parks and two castles, there lies a small alley which leads down to the Plaza de Armas. On Sundays, there is an antique market full of little treasures. Small books filled with Fidel's speeches, magazines depicting pre-communistic styles and ideas, cameras and watches perhaps left from old Soviet comrades. The vendors wear gloves and try to laugh about the strong gusts of wind. They have caramel brown skin and clear eyes, like maritime sailors, with deep wrinkles. Their Spanish flows in the wind and their eyes float around as they tell me their prices. When I speak Spanish with them, they ask me where I come from. They tell me of the apples they used to import from my country, large and round, bright yellow and so delicious. They say the tourists don't buy anything. I tell them their prices are too high. They smirk and explain that the market is no longer open all week. Then when is it open? Domingo, Martes y Jueves. Since when? Since Raul said so. But why? Why what? Why can't you work all week? They smirk harder. No one knows why, they say.

Parque Central

Leaving the Malecon, and proceeding five blocks down the Paseo de Marti, you reach the most central part of La Habana. There stand the three grandest hotels of the city, surrounding the Parque Central, in which the elderly and homeless of the city congregate. There we met Alejandro Hernandez Talavera. He had a kind smile, rough skin and soft hands. His eyes were light in the sun but deep in the shade. He told us he has family in America, a niece who works in the airport in Miami and a daughter named Jacqueline in Canada. I asked if they left him alone in Cuba but he shook his head and said that he wouldn't leave. He had fought for the Revolution, during the Bay of Pigs Invasion, he said. The young in Havana are restless, the old are grounded to their soil. He told us he would meet someone at twelve p.m. to send his daughter a package, a wrapped up bunch of "Granma" newspapers published the day Fidel passed, full of the patron's portraits, his words and his press. When we came back at twelve, he wasn't there so we wondered if anything he told was true.

The Steets of La Habana

Pedro

Pedro has mestizo eyes. I imagine it's the island of Cuba floating in them, a dark bottomless pit in blue seas. Pedro used to work as a barber but is now retired. I ask him if he earns a pension from the State. He answers that they give him some change, $8 dollars a month. He speaks English well and he tells us he learned it at the university for the elderly, provided for by the government. Like many Cubans, him and his friend are very curious about us. They ask us many questions and pose for all the pictures. His friend wants to earn money for the photos Jon takes. I tell him we can't pay the whole city. He disapproves of our coins and kisses them gently, laughing sarcastically.

Pedro has mestizo eyes. I imagine it's the island of Cuba floating in them, a dark bottomless pit in blue seas. Pedro used to work as a barber but is now retired. I ask him if he earns a pension from the State. He answers that they give him some change, $8 dollars a month. He speaks English well and he tells us he learned it at the university for the elderly, provided for by the government. Like many Cubans, him and his friend are very curious about us. They ask us many questions and pose for all the pictures. His friend wants to earn money for the photos Jon takes. I tell him we can't pay the whole city. He disapproves of our coins and kisses them gently, laughing sarcastically.

Maria

Here on a corner street, Maria makes a living by selling plastic bags for a peso each. That's 1/24th of a US dollar. She allows Jon to take her photo, feeling less intruded hiding behind her popsicle like a shy schoolgirl. To shift the burden of the spotlight, she asks us to take photos of the woman across the street. The woman is old and eccentric, with skin forged by the restless sun and teeth broken through her never-ending battle against time.

Orestes

I first saw Orestes walk past me in a rugged part of Havana. He walked into a fruit market as I walked out, and he caught me staring at him with his one eye. I froze at that moment. I became so intrigued by how well taken care of he looked that I had to go up to talk to him. Orestes lost one of his eyes in a motorcycle accident when he was twenty and he received free health care services to fix it, provided for all citizens by the government. He told us he works for the State bus company and that he is pleased with his job. When I asked him what he thought about Fidel and his policies, Orestes said that he was loyal to him, that he is a "fidelista." We asked him to stand against this mural, "La Revolucion es el pueblo", because despite Fidel's death, like many others in this small neighborhood, Orestes continues to believe in his patron and the way of life Fidel has planted on this small patch of land.

I first saw Orestes walk past me in a rugged part of Havana. He walked into a fruit market as I walked out, and he caught me staring at him with his one eye. I froze at that moment. I became so intrigued by how well taken care of he looked that I had to go up to talk to him. Orestes lost one of his eyes in a motorcycle accident when he was twenty and he received free health care services to fix it, provided for all citizens by the government. He told us he works for the State bus company and that he is pleased with his job. When I asked him what he thought about Fidel and his policies, Orestes said that he was loyal to him, that he is a "fidelista." We asked him to stand against this mural, "La Revolucion es el pueblo", because despite Fidel's death, like many others in this small neighborhood, Orestes continues to believe in his patron and the way of life Fidel has planted on this small patch of land.

Beggars Cant Be Choosers

Pride is apparent through the streets of Havana. The homeless on the streets beg, but they don't accept coins. Beggars can't be choosers. But the homeless of Havana are neither beggars nor choosers. Their fate is handed to them on silver plated trays. Free education and free health care, the government says. Equal access to a standard of living and free repairs of the buildings, the regime asserts. Then how come there are people who continue to starve and streets which continue to crumble? Plated silver will eventually rust.

Written by Vivian Horvath. Photography by Jon Norris with Leica

Written by Vivian Horvath. Photography by Jon Norris with Leica

 

To check out all the photos from Cuba, be sure to click on the link below!