ONCE UPON A TIME IN A TELUGU VILLAGE

ONCE UPON A TIME IN A TELUGU VILLAGE… A photo exhibition of pictures shot by Prof. Luc de Golbery between 1966 & ’68, a testament to the love affair between a young French geographer and a little Indian hamlet, Gudipudi displayed at Alliance Française of Hyderabad Auditorium from 18th November to 1st December 2022.

The photos displayed the portraits of people from different communities, geographical specifics of the region, living conditions, lifestyle habits, family as a community and the rituals followed at every stages of life to name a few. The special highlight of the exhibition is the visit of people from Gudipudi who were the part of the photos clicked by Prof. Luc de Golbery.

This forms part of Indian Photo Festival which was held at Chitramayee, The State Art Gallery, Madhapur, Hyderabad.

 

In the words of Prof. Luc de Golbery “….. Within the framework of cooperation between Osmania University in Hyderabad and the University of Strasbourg, a team of French geographers which I was a part of, had chosen several sample villages, around the Krishna River Delta, on the coast of the then undivided Andhra Pradesh, to study the problems in agricultural development in Central India.

One of these villages, Lachannagudipudi, immediately aroused my Savoyard interest: a large hill, reminiscent of the mountain of Savoy, separated the village from the main road leading to the Krishna River and to Guntur (the District Headquarter). There were two other small hills in the villages, one of which, being in the centre of the village, afforded many a vantage point, a precious feature for a geographer!

This is how I found myself in Gudipudi ( to use the diminutive ), sharing a beautiful traditional stone and tile house with a cow, two buffaloes, three goats and two stray dogs who adopted me into their fold! This incidentally was the only house available for my lodging at the time. Thus began an intense love story with Gudipudi, which continues to date.

Photography had become a natural tool for me both in cartography and during the field surveys, being an amateur photographer since middle school equipped with Praktica, then from the university with a Nikon F1, several lenses and black and white development equipment.  Before my departure for India, I had picked up from Switzerland a roll of 200 m of film for a 35 mm camera, Perutz colour films and recovered some empty chargers. This thrifty but generous stock allowed me the luxury of capturing several thousand shots: of classic documents (cadastre, administrative archives, manuscripts) and of informative, aesthetic and amicable visual complements (landscapes and seasonal terrain, habitat, cultivation, faces, families, people, craftsmen and workers in action, to name a few).

The locals, many of whom I had become good friends with, took kindly to my faux pas as a newly arrived foreigner, gestures that were normal to me but which had serious connotations in the local socio-religious context. They graciously educated me in their practices: like to never enter a house with your shoes on, always bowing to the diety at the family altar on entering the house, always purifying hands before eating….all that their children followed diligently from a very young age.

Most of these Gudipudi photos were taken during this stay (1966-1968). the images displayed here are a modest testimony to the exceptional experience of this sojourn, which radically reoriented my perception of the world, of life and of MY life. ”

 

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