Parallel Cities – Exploring the Impact of Cities in Our Lives
Parallel Cities is a long term photography project. It is about connecting our cities and its citizens together to celebrate their diversity and to bring out the hidden stories of our cities. Be a part of my journey across cities, as I try to understand the story each city and its people have to tell us – one photo at a time.
In this project, I am making photographs under four major themes –
- Architecture – Each city has its unique sense of architecture and design. Under this theme I will attempt to capture the stories behind each city’s prominent buildings like railway museums, churches and temples, forts and castles, etc.
- Art in The City – Public Art in our cities not only provide artists an avenue to express themselves, but also give citizens a place to relax and admire art in the middle of a busy day. Art adds dynamism and gives character to our cities.
- Transport / Mobility – Good public transport and mobility options are essential for smooth and safe transportation of people and vehicles in our cities. Under this theme I make photographs showing how different cities tackle the transportation challenge.
- Shopping / Business – Cities generate 80% of the world’s GDP today. They have become economic centres, with people consuming the various goods, services and entertainment options available to them. In my photos you can see how different cities are doing that.
Cycling Across the Netherlands in Sep 2017
Living in the Netherlands, there was no way I could remain oblivious to cycling. With four times as many cycles than cars in Amsterdam alone, it is no surprise that cycling became one of my favourite themes to photograph for this project. People say that cycling is a way of life and a cycle is an extension of the human body in Netherlands. While strange to hear at first, I have come to see how this is often true in this country.
To honour the Dutch tradition of cycling; which is now showing other cities a safer, healthier and sustainable way of moving around; I will be cycling along all the major cities in this country in September of 2017. Of course, when I do this, I will make photographs along the way 🙂 The route I will be riding will take me from Amsterdam to Leiden, Den Haag, Rotterdam, Dordrecht, Breda, Tilburg, Eindhoven, Nijmegen, Arnhem, Zwolle, Groningen, Leeuwarden, and back to Amsterdam; covering over 800 kms in 9 days.
The vast network of wide and dedicated bike lanes makes cycling an easy choice for people, as there are often smooth roads in a different color, clear signs and signals for bike routes, separate traffic lights and when they intersect with car traffic, cycles have the right of way. This journey will help me understand why Netherlands is the most bike friendly country in the world, and my photos will share what I discover with others.
I have lived most of my life in New Delhi, which is a megacity of over 20 million people. There are lots of colours and chaos on Delhi streets at any given time. I believed that’s what cities are and never gave a second thought about them. But then I moved to Amsterdam in late 2014 and was totally bewildered and confused by the amazing orderliness in my new city. I had moved from a city which was 161 in the Quality of Life Index to one which was 11th in the same index, and I wasn’t prepared for this surprise.
It was then that I started to read and research about how cities work. As I travelled within Europe, I used my camera as a tool and photography as a medium to capture what I saw to make sense of our cities. Later I found out that for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population (54 percent) resides in cities, and this is expected to rise to 70% by 2050. Despite our differences in language, culture, religion, etc, I believe we all live very “parallel” lives. We citizens do and aspire for similar things, and face common challenges everyday.
I believe every corner of a city has a story to tell which I am attempting to unravel through this project – one photo at a time. With this project, I aim to bring people and cities together to engage in conversations about our diversity, and our shared challenges and aspirations. I want to see our cities (and its people) with new eyes, and celebrate the mundane as well as the extraordinary. We do not have to be separated by our cities, instead let us be connected by them.