Humans of Bombay

First of all, Bombay is now known as Mumbai, (Bombay was the official name until 1995, but many people are still attached to it) and is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. Being the financial, commercial, and entertainment capital, it is the most populous city in India. Just as USA is a ‘land of opportunities’ for people all over the world, Mumbai is the same for those Indian citizens who don’t have the means or the want to travel abroad. Mumbai’s business opportunities, as well as its potential to offer a higher standard of living, attract migrants from all over India, making the city a melting pot of many communities and cultures.

Now, we have all heard of Humans of New York, but what is Humans of Bombay?

Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s widely shared photo blog, Humans of New York, Karishma Mehta’s Humans of Bombay offers an insightful view of Mumbai through a people-led photo series. The 24-year-old street photographer and city chronicler who started Humans of Bombay in January 2014 says, “I love being the point of contact between someone who tells a story and the ones who like to listen.”

A firm believer in the philosophy that everyone has a story, Mehta, a self-taught photographer, is known for sharing vignettes of everyday life in Mumbai. The photo-blog has over 600,000 followers and has garnered a great amount of acclaim for its beautifully captured portraits and anecdotes of thousands of people of Mumbai. And now, you can have the heartwarming anecdotes and pictures as a beautiful coffee table book. Humans of Bombay, written by Mehta, features 100 never-seen-before images, besides popular gems that chronicle everyone from a nonagenarian couple’s ultimate love story to a philanthropic cab driver’s life.

An exceptional read, it tells you tales of people of different walks of life with utmost ingenuity and is a real page turner. In an interview, she talks about her experiences of how this journey started and the stories that really moved her:

The most important life lesson Humans of Bombay has taught you?
The whole journey for me has been about following my passion. I was a business and economics major, and not a trained photojournalist. So I believe that if you follow your passion, things will come to you. It’s just a feeling I started with—holding on to my passion—and it’s something that has been validated after meeting all these people.

The story that moved you the most?
I spoke to a woman who shared with me an intimate story of her time in an abusive relationship and how she got out of it. Over time, we have become great friends. And back then she offered one of the best advice—don’t rush into a marriage.

How do you decide who makes it to the book or the blog?
I feel that every person has a story. In fact, every person I’ve shot till date has been part of my series or the book. Over the years, I’ve mastered this art of extracting stories. In Mumbai, people are always in a rush, so typically they don’t speak longer than two-three minutes, but sometimes conversations get intense and go on for 45 minutes. Some can even be emotionally draining for the speaker and listener. So I start my conversations with “Hi, can I talk to you for two minutes?” and listen without judgment, hoping they open up and find it comforting.

Here are some excerpts from the book:

HOB_1.jpg

When I was 14, I used to talk to boys; drive motor cycles, smoke cigarettes and people in Bandra would often call me a whore because of those things. I never understood the term back then, but sure if doing all those things made me a whore– I’d take it gladly. After my father’s death, I moved to Chicago where there were so many like me and it gave me the freedom to get inked, experiment with my hair and just be myself.

One Christmas Eve in Chicago, I walked out of a bar alone late at night in a short dress and red lipstick. I was 24 and had been drinking, when from a dumpster, a group of guys walked up to me and put a gun to
my head asking me to give them blow jobs, eventually leading to gang rape. I remember walking home, showering and pushing this incident to the back of my mind for years and never letting it break my spirit – I still wear short dresses and the brightest red on my lips.

In years to come, I got married to my high school sweetheart, faced domestic violence and walked out of the marriage wondering how this could happen to ME, a feminist? It’s because sometimes there are things that are beyond your control. We live in a world where everyone stresses the importance of voicing yourself or walking out of tough situations, but I just want to say this – no one wants to be beaten up, get raped or sell their bodies.

It took me 20 years to voice my incident, but for me a woman keeping it all within her because she has no other choice isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a mark of strength and something we need to start respecting.”

 HOB_2.jpg

I’m an 80 year old unmarried woman, and at this stage all I really want is a reason to be happy every day.

What’s that reason for you?

I’m my biggest reason to be happy…celebrating the fact that I’m here, alive and healthy. I don’t think happiness depends on whether you’re married or not, unlike what the Indian society thinks. I’m living with my sister and niece and every single day we’re doing new things to grow and I think that’s what happiness is about– growth and appreciating how fantastic life is.

What are you appreciating today?

The huge piece of cake I’m going to be having after dinner!

HOB_3.jpg

I’ve loved painting since I was a little boy and adding color to people’s lives whichever way I can, gives me immense happiness. A few years ago after we finished painting a bungalow the owner took us to a restaurant to celebrate. This had never happened to any of us before– usually we don’t even meet the owner, the contractor pays us off and that’s it.
I was mesmerized because it was the first time I had even seen a fancy restaurant from the inside and given respect. All my life I had eaten only tea and bread, but that day we ate paneer and daal. That has been the highlight of my life, and I pray for that man every single day.

For more poignant stories of Bombay, follow this link:

https://www.facebook.com/humansofbombay/

-Nidhi

Photo source: Humans of Bombay

 

 

 

The Humans of the World

Brandon Stanton started a journey in the summer of 2010. He decided to start a Facebook page to capture New York City through photos of its eclectic population. He then started collecting quotes from the people he took photos of and very soon it became one of the most widely viewed blogs. The “Humans of New York” Facebook page now thrives with more than 2 million likes on its’ Facebook page and a bestselling book.

What Brandon Stanton may have not realized then was the amazing ripple effect of his creation. Not too long after the “Humans of New York” page became popular across the U.S. and other parts of the world, many others were inspired to create their own ‘Humans of..’ pages and blogs.

Humans of Bangladesh:
https://www.facebook.com/people.bangladesh

humans of bangladesh                                                           HOB quote

Humans of Rome:
https://www.facebook.com/HumansOfRome/photos_stream

 

Humans of Rome                                                                                             HOT quote

There are more than 500 pages that were inspired by the “Humans of New York” and each day it keeps growing. Those who created these pages had different reasons for doing so – while some of them wanted to capture their country in a way the mainstream media might not; others just thought it would be a fun thing to do.  The stories and the photos are just as diverse as the intentions of the ones who started these pages. Nonetheless, personally when I come across these ‘Humans of..’ pages I look at is an opportunity to learn something new.

Every photo that I’ve come across has led me to stop believing in a certain stereotype I had pinned onto that region. Every photo unfolds a unique story about someone who I have never met and probably will never meet. But just for those few minutes before I scroll onto another photo I can connect to the person on my screen. Even though we are worlds apart both by distance and culture, I can somehow find a way to empathize with the story I read.

These pages have gone beyond just great photography or framing or great quotes. Every day the world we live in becomes more global, be it through our international trade or high speed internet. These ‘Humans of..’ pages allow us to become more global through the similar emotions we feel as humans. They give us access to a small part of one more person in the world, someone we probably would have never known about.

By: Suaida Firoze 

The Humans Behind Humans of Clark

Humans of clark creators

Humans of Clark is a Facebook page that went live just over a week ago. It has become a well-known page on campus, and I had the opportunity to sit down with the creators of this page to discuss its creation and purpose. Often we assume that people only put their time and energy into things that they are doing for class or for a job, but Jonathan Edelman ’16 and Nainika Grover ’16 are doing this project on their own time without any outside reward. “People often ask us why we’re doing this or what class we’re doing this for, but the truth is that we’re just doing this for fun.” said Jonathan. They found inspiration for this page in the very famous Humans of New York page. “New York is a really big city and it (Humans of New York) does such a good job encapsulating the stories of so many individuals. Clark is such a small community and we often see the same people around campus without really knowing them.” said Jonathan. “I want people to get to know other Clarkies on campus that they didn’t know before through our project” said Nainika.

humans of clark talking

While speaking to them, they both seemed to truly believe in what they were doing. They spoke with such ease and passion while discussing their project. Each of them spends a few hours a day walking around campus. They pick their subjects quite randomly and never choose their friends or even acquaintances to avoid as much bias as possible. “I’ve noticed that strangers are more willing to give me a proper and honest answer”, said Nainika. “I walk through campus and even the library and wait until someone catches my eye.” said Jonathan. “Sometimes I’ll just be eating in the cafe and I’ll see someone and just go up to them and try to ask them a personal question: something that you wouldn’t know just by looking at them.” said Nainika. According to a recent post, the Humans of Clark Facebook page has been viewed in about 20 different languages and in cities all over the country and world in the short time that it has been up. “This is so exciting to us. Seeing all of these people who view our page embodies just how diverse Clark us. It is so great that our small project is reaching so many people and places.” said Nainika. When I asked them what their goal for this project is they gave me an answer that showed me just how much they believe in what they are doing. They expressed, “This project is not about trying to get a certain amount of likes on a page or to raise money or for any class assignment. We’re trying to show the social networking world who Clarkies are. It is really to portray our community and to get to know each other.”

 humans of clark and me

-Annalise Kukor

 

Photos by Demet Senturk