Cultural Museum at Utkal University

To begin with,
I did not know
that Utkal University had
an anthropology department
established as early as 1958.

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Although I was reluctant to enter
one cannot not enter
after seeing the welcome mural
at their entrance.
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Besides the usual university museum artefacts,
their museum was super impressive
because they had actually excavated
three human skeletal remains
which was also on display.
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dilemma in taking people photos (even at hornbill festival)

i used to take a lot of people pictures
i liked catching the unaware expressions
from teary eyes to untimely yawns
angry pouts to private smiles
i prided myself for capturing those moments
but i stopped.
i found myself a little too intrusive
as i took pictures of strangers
in their own different worlds
and thought what if i was the subject
i did not want to steal their moments anymore
i wanted to look beyond their smiles and the tears
perhaps it also has to do with the shift in my journey
from a (wannabe) photojournalist to an anthropologist
but i knew i needed to go beyond the fleeting moments
i needed to ask myself why did i just take that picture
especially if it was of another human being…

in anthropology, we are in the business of studying people
and i stopped taking people pictures after i became one
often times we get drawn to the kind of pictures
of some indigenous festival or a traditional gathering
where the native is colorfully attired and is further exoticized
by photographers, journalists and anthropologists
with their latest camera gadgets and powerful lenses…

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hence i tried to stay away from that kind of photography
at the hornbill festival 2015
my photos mostly focused on material culture
the morungs, the drums, the food and the rice beer
but i could not necessarily steer away from the people
because it is the people that make the place
and when you have a colorful group of people
(not just in terms of the clothes but the expressions and
the dances and the sport that happened in kisama)
you cannot not take pictures
while my instagram account is proof to the kind of pictures
i was able to take
i also like the kind i took of people taking photos
of people taking photos…

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in this day and age when we all have access to
smartphones and digital cameras
i realized that moments can be shared
with everyone and anyone…

zonal anthropological museum

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Sometimes it is more interesting to walk down a street than visit a museum in India.
Nonetheless, I’ve been to two museums in the past two months in two different places.
The Zonal Anthropological Museum in Port Blair is a tourist spot for anyone visiting the
Andaman Islands.
The Anthropological Survey of India has made a humble attempt to house information,
pictures, artifacts, and model homes of the tribes of the region.
While we learn some about the people of the islands, we also learn about Indian tourists who make themselves home and rest comfortably at ‘do not touch’ huts.