Stories from memories

December 05, 2016 03:27 pm | Updated December 09, 2016 03:19 pm IST

We all have stories that are waiting to be told. Photographer, curator, and photo archivist Anusha Yadav saw this opportunity in family pictures and started to create a history of the Indian Subcontinent through images and anecdotes. The online visual and narrative-based archive, comprising pictures from as far back as 1862, tells a compelling story of India through its people. In a brief chat, she tells us how the project has evolved over the years. Edited excerpts.

How has the Indian Memory Project evolved?

It literally began as an experiment for myself. Essentially, it was curiosity and little access to history that led me to create the archives. And when I started, I didn’t know if anybody else had done something similar. I didn’t know how people would respond to it. It worked out like magic. This journey of tracing the history of the sub-continent has been full of surprises. The archives are accessible to all for research and reference purposes. I am getting to do the project because of the archive. I am now curating a show on the history of Indian crime next year in Bombay.

How did people respond to your call to share their pictures accompanied with a story?

I realised writing about your family is the hardest thing to do, so I help people to write it. There are different kinds of memories — collective, fictitious, and protective memory. The story they express emerges from there.

What kind of images did people share?

The images are personal, mostly family pictures. There are a total of 170, apart from letters. I plan to compile love letters into a book. The oldest story is of a lady from Bangalore in 1862, contributed by a great great grandson. Devdasi is an interesting story narrated by Cory Walia from Mumbai, who talks about her linkages with the Devdasi tradition. The picture taken in 1931/32 has her maternal grandparents, the Maharaja and Maharani of Dewas, her mother, uncle and great grandmother Krishna Rao Salgaoncar, who belonged to the Devdasi tradition.

Another fascinating story is of India’s first known girl rock band from Miranda College in Delhi. Then there is a story about a particular community in South India, where a child each from a family would have to become a tantrik. There are also pictures that tell us that people suffered equally during the Partitions, be it in India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh.

(To know how to contribute a story, visit

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