Delhi Photo Festival

snatching Giacomo Brunelli's work

snatching Giacomo Brunelli’s work

Wow. The second edition of the Delhi Photo Festival is just that: amazing. Being the country’s first ever photography festival, the guys from Nazar Foundation together with the Indian Habitat Center again managed to create a photographer’s delight. 2013’s theme is ‘grace’. And graceful presentations of contemporary photographic practices they are.

There is Prabuddha Dasgupta’s black and white work for example, who’s definition of grace inspired 2013’s theme. His models are laughing, longing, seducing, dreaming with this beautiful elegance, for which Dasgupta was lacking a description.

Or in a much more brutal way, Chinki Shukla captured the life of residents in Jadugoda, a nuclear mining town in Jharkhand, that has been hit by the effects of radiation. The people’s living with deformations and their tragedies because of loss of life here are shown in beauty.

Seeing the world of Alain Laboile's children

Seeing the world of Alain Laboile’s children

Then there is Alain Laboile, seizing the moments of innocent play of his six children – in a way that the pictures look like works of art. There’s a lot of mud and deep forest, a swing and ropes,  fogged glass and a kitchen hideout – like everybody’s family holiday, but in extraordinary portaits.

Especially empathetic (and courageous to exhibit it in India): The work of Maika Elan, who shows the warmth and intimacy of same-sex relationships in Vietnam.

And of course Giacomo Brunelli. His edgy black and white depiction of animals in the streets moves the onlooker. He says: “When I was a child I used to spend a great deal of time playing with animals, which I think is the reason as to why I tend to push my camera lens to it’s closest point of focus, forcing a fight or flight reaction out of the animal. This natural, spontaneous reaction is what I try to capture.”

But these are only a few. There is much more to discover. And I’ve only seen the exhibitions in the India Habitat Center – there’s much more to see in many gallies across the city, which have their own independent photography shows, in their own spaces, to coincide with the Festival.

Hospital stories

As I’m still lying around in the hospital, people try to… well… cheer me up with hospital stories. Unfortunately most of them don’t help.

When I, for example, asked the attending physician about the last time he treated someone with an amoebic liver abscess, he said: five to six years ago. And then he remembered the fate of the wife of the doctor of the German Embassy. She once had the same disease, but was only given different pills. These she took for some days, but then she stopped doing so and flew to Goa for some holidays. There the abscess ruptured – and soon thereafter she died.

A couchsurfer who stayed with me some weeks ago, met an Israeli and told me his story. The guy is a medical student in Israel, but far from finishing his studies soon, and he never even assisted at an operation. During his internship in a hospital in Mumbai, he was responsible for operations on people’s organs.

My colleague furthermore told me the story of her father in law. He walked upright into the Max Hospital in Delhi, but soon he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and died. When they got the bill, they saw that all kind of fluids and medications were pumped into his body – and most of them didn’t seem to make sense.

More stories from the Hospital

hospital front view

behind the windows on the left is my room

As I have to stay here for a week or so now, I better get accustomed to the place. For example, a friend bought earplugs for me against all that honking: a small, but very busy street is not more than 15 meters away from my windows (which don’t close properly). My flatmate on the other hand brought me my sleep mask from home.

vein missed

vein missed

But this didn’t safe me from the nurses bolting into my room just after I had fallen asleep at 9pm yesterday. I had told the afternoon nurse I’m hitting the pillow, assured with her that the needle stays overnight in my vein and even made her switch off the lights – but the nurses on night shift apparently didn’t know anything about my sleeping plan and stormed into my room to check my temperature.

After being awaken so sharply, I watched the german movie “Feuchtgebiete” – and every time the nurses came into the room to measure the temperature, I was watching a scene with either naked flesh on my screen or a lot of moaning. Poor girls must have thought I watch a porno, and this in prudish India.

At 2am I finally slept, so it wasn’t nice when the nurses woke me up again at 6.30am, but fine, they had to give me some medicine. But when I just had just passed out again, they came at 7am to measure my temperature. And again at 7.30am.

allergy test

allergy test

At least the doctor had a nice surprise today. With him he brought some nice young guys, which didn’t introduce themselfes, but they looked like young doctors . So when I complained that the promised Croissant didn’t arrive the day before, and neither did the fruits, the chief made the place run. Five Minutes after the group left, two of the young ones were back and battled to take my order. The brought me a sandwich, muffins and even a cappuccino from a nearby bakery. And the nurses finally managed to get some other fruits than apples and bananas.

Suffering in the Hospital

hospital bedSince nine days I have fever, headache, chest pain. But I never felt as bad as today, when I stepped into the hospital. Maybe it’s true what I heard in my childhood: Clinics make you feel ill.

The doctor who sent me to the East West Medical Centre is on the list of trusted doctors of the German Embassy, so I didn’t question his decision. Maybe I should have. The place is run down, with neon light and close-drawn curtains and an x-ray machine that looks like being from the 70s (if not older – I might have gotten enough rays for the rest of my life).

wristbandThe first thing I got after entering the hospital was a wristband like a newborn – hey, I can still say my name, I’m not dead yet! Then I had to put on a stupid gown that – despite uncountable ribbons and ties – nowhere closed properly. I felt naked and like I was in a funny farm.

Next followed a never ending stream of doctors and nurses and staff and other random people walking into my room. One wanted to know what I eat for lunch, the next one brought me some slippers, the third explained the bell, the fourth brought water, the fifth wanted a urine sample, the sixth showed me the way to the x-ray, the seventh wanted to give me insulin, the eight cleaned the room, the nineth wanted to have blood samples. And so on, and so forth.

Somehow I could cope with all this, until both the insulin girl and the blood sample girl missed my veins and poked around in the crooks of my arm respectively in the top side of my lower arm. Then I exploded.

Monsoon creatures

So I was already complaining about the humid, hot, damp monsoon weather. In which every creature flourishes, be it insects or worms or plants or fungus. Well, mildew also likes these conditions. So two of the pictures I got less than two month ago and put up in my living room are already rotting. Only the one that hangs not on the outer wall but on the wall which leads to my bedroom is still good. Let’s see for how long.


Sad Story

This is the story of a fellow couchsurfer. A lovely and creative guy, a part-time student und full-time poet, a young man who likes to talk calmly – and therefore maybe a good victim.

I found him one morning on my rooftop terrace. Neither of us knew how he got there. When I asked him questions, his mind was working so slow it was something else than the sleepiness that was holding his thoughts back.

Turned out he went to the tourist spot Red Fort the afternoon before. Someone befriended him. They had a drink, and my couchsurfer swore black and blue he opened the can himself and never put the drink out of his reach.

But something must’ve fallen in it. Because he instantly fell asleep in the park where they were sitting. And when he woke up again, his bag with camera, purse, passport, smartphone and my keys were gone.

The next hours, he tried to find a police station. But due to his sedative state of mind, he never managed to see one, even when the auto rickshaw drivers pointed them out. How he paid the drivers and how he finally came back to my place, remains unknown. Even his climb on my terrace is a miracle to me.

One more weird thing: From his phone, someone sent a message to his mother in Singapore, saying the bag is at a particular police station. A remorseful thieve? Turned out he wasn’t. The bag wasn’t there.


A visit to the widows of Vrindavan


pancakesWhen a couchsurfer asks you out for breakfast – don’t just go around the corner. We ended up feasting in a lovely (but rather expensive) place at Khan Market (sorry, forgot the name) with lovely pancakes.

I never imagined I would miss these homely flavour one day: Nutella, pancake, banana in the morning. But at the moment I’m so sick of all the paranthas and dosas and curries and pakoras and idlis and biryanis and paneers and chole bhature, especially for breakfast, when my stomach is not up for it at all.

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