Australian photojournalist Graham Crouch raves and rues about India in equal measure
Recently at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi, visitors enjoyed a show of photographs from all across the world, including India — from the mountains of Afghanistan to the streets of Kolkata, from wintry Delhi to Islamabad in flux. The photos were clicked by award-winning photojournalists from Australia — Daniel Berehulak, Adam and long-time ABC cameraperson Wyne.
This thought-provoking show was curated by Graham Crouch, also an award-winning Australian photojournalist whose own collection of photographs on “India's composite culture and spirit”, as he puts it, was also part of the show titled “Crossing Paths”.
India will be Crouch's home for the next four years now due to his work as a commissioned photojournalist from Australia, and he has been a regular visitor to the country since the early 1990s. India, he says, has changed a lot ever since his first visit in 1991. “It has become more cosmopolitan and I feel surprised at emerging little classes and restaurants in every nook and corner,” he says.
Crouch loves to lace his speech with ‘Indian' humour. And Indian spices don't bother him. “I love Indian spices and try almost every Indian restaurant in search of traditional Indian food. I also go to eat in Mehrauli. I was guided to that place by a food reporter friend from a national daily. If I miss my country's food, I cook seafood at home and go for risotto, pasta, prawns, etc. I have a cook at home. She is like a family member. She cooks nice Indian food for me,” he says fondly.
To clean or wipeout?
Extensive travelling for photo-shoots is a part of Crouch's job as he is documenting India. Summers don't bother him. He says, “Such things don't bog me down as I have been a photojournalist for over 25 years. What surprises me is the tragic diminution of India's signature culture and beauty. For instance, for preparations for the Commonwealth Games, pavements selling cute little things have been completely wiped out from many locations in Delhi. I loved those sweet carts and vendors which are typically Indian. In the name of the Games, they are sanitising the entire city. Soon it will look drab and too urban. I don't understand which direction they're going,” he rues.
Yet, Crouch doesn't tire of praising other “typical Indian things”, like the six-yard sari. “It is fascinating to see how Indian women so skilfully wear that unstitched cloth and that too so glamorously!” he wonders. So much is the 45-year-old Crouch's passion for the Indian sari that he is documenting a book on their various types. “How Indian women from different parts of the country wear it will be a part of the book,” he says with the delight of child who has got his favourite toy.